Pantothenic acid, also called vitamin B5, is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins are stored in the body in very limited amounts and are excreted through the urine. Therefore, it is a good idea to have them in your daily diet. It is not difficult to eat enough pantothenic acid daily, since it is abundant in foods. Pantothenic acid literally means “from every side” in Greek, reflecting the ample supply in foods.
Pantothenic acid forms part of a larger substance called coenzyme A (CoA), which is essential to life. As part of CoA, pantothenic acid is needed to:
- Obtain energy from the carbohydrate, fat, and protein we eat
- Synthesize essential fats, cholesterol, hormones, and neurotransmitters
- Metabolize many drugs and toxins in the liver
|Age Group||Adequate Intake (AI)|
|0-6 months||1.7 milligrams (mg)||1.7 mg|
|7-12 months||1.8 mg||1.8 mg|
|1-3 years||2 mg||2 mg|
|4-8 years||3 mg||3 mg|
|9-13 years||4 mg||4 mg|
|14 years and older||5 mg||5 mg|
Because pantothenic acid is so widely available, deficiency is unlikely. In fact, deficiency is so rare that reportedly the symptoms of deficiency—numbness and tingling in the toes and burning and shooting pains in the feet—have only been observed in World War II prisoners in the Philippines, Burma, and Japan. “Barth Syndrome” is a very rare inherited disorder. The disorder is not caused by dietary deficiency of pantothenic acid, but at one time, was thought to respond to treatment with this vitamin.
Pantothenic acid is not known to cause toxicity. There are minimal reports of adverse effects relating to pantothenic intake. As a result, the USDA Food and Nutrition Board did not set a tolerable upper level of intake (UL) for pantothenic acid.
Major Food Sources
Unlike other B vitamins, pantothenic acid is not added to enriched grains. But it is found in many foods, making it easy to reach Adequate Intake levels.
|Food||Portion Size||Amount of Pantothenic Acid|
|Mushrooms, shiitake, cooked||1 cup||5.2 milligrams (mg)|
|Liver, beef, cooked||3 ounces||3.9 mg|
|Sunflower seeds, dry roasted||1 ounce||2.0 mg|
|Egg substitute||¼ cup||1.7 mg|
|Lentils, cooked||1 cup||1.3 mg|
|Salmon, Atlantic, baked||3 ounces||1.3 mg|
|Turkey, roasted meat||1 cup||1.3 mg|
|Avocado, California||½ cup||1.1 mg|
|Yogurt, low fat, fruited||1 cup||1.1 mg|
|Chicken, white meat, cooked||3 ounces||0.8 mg (USDA)|
|Milk, nonfat||1 cup||0.8 mg|
|Egg, large, hard-boiled||1 large||0.7 mg|
|Brewer’s yeast||1 teaspoon||0.5 mg|
|Peanuts, dry roasted||1 ounce||0.4 mg|
|Broccoli, raw||½ cup||0.2 mg|
|Tuna, canned white||3 ounces||0.1 mg|
Pantothenic acid taken by mouth and pantothenol ointment applied to the skin have both been shown to decrease healing time of wounds in animals. However, there is little evidence that pantothenic acid accelerates wound healing in humans. In one randomized, double-blind study, researchers administered 1,000 mg of vitamin C and 200 mg of pantothenic acid to people having tattoo removal surgery; they found no significant improvement in wound healing.
Women who take oral contraceptives (birth control pills) that contain estrogen and progestin may need more pantothenic acid. Talk with your doctor to see if you should be concerned about your pantothenic acid intake and whether taking a daily multivitamin would be appropriate.
In addition, if you take pantethine (another form of pantothenic acid) with the following cholesterol-lowering medications, the effect of the medication may be increased:
- HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins):
- Nicotinic acid
Talk to your doctor about whether you should be concerned about your pantothenic acid intake and whether taking a daily multivitamin would be appropriate.
American Dietetic Association
Food Guide Pyramid
Canada's Food Guide
Dietitians of Canada
Dietary reference intakes. USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center website. Available at: http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=1 .
Gaddi A, Descovich GC, Noseda G, et al. Controlled evaluation of pantethine, a natural hypolipidemic compound, in patients with different forms of hyperlipoproteinemia. Atherosclerosis. 1984;50:73-83.
Leonardi R, Zhang YM, Rock CO, Jackowski S. Coenzyme A: back in action. Prog Lipid Res. 2005;44:125-153.
Standard reference, release 15. USDA National Nutrient Database website. Available at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/cgi-bin/nut_search.pl . Accessed on February 20, 2003.
Vaxman F, Olender S, Lambert A, et al. Effect of pantothenic acid and ascorbic acid supplementation on human skin wound healing process. A double-blind, prospective and randomized trial. Eur Surg Res. 1995;27:158-166.
Wardlow GM, Insel PM. Perspectives in Nutrition. 2nd ed. Boston: Mosby; 1993.
Last reviewed April 2009 by
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