Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is nicknamed “the anti-stress vitamin.” Doesn’t that make you want to run out right now and buy a bottle of vitamin B5, or eat a big steak with mushrooms on top (both rich natural sources of the nutrient?). I don’t know about you, but I’m always delighted when I find a natural supplement that can help relieve stress.
Before we get into this further, let’s go over the basics of pantothenic acid. Like its numerous relatives in the B-vitamin family, vitamin B5 is water-soluble. This means it is excreted from the body, usually in the urine, throughout the day and we have to replenish it on a regular basis through diet and/or a supplement.
Okay, back to its anti-stress properties. Vitamin B5 got this nickname because has been shown to help boost the immune system and improve our ability to deal with and withstand stressful situations. Specifically, it helps our bodies produce hormones that are needed when fighting stress. For example, vitamin B5 can help our bodies control the secretion of cortisol, and in general it helps keep our adrenal glands functioning as they should. Some studies have found it can help treat both depression and anxiety. In addition to psychological strain, pantothenic acid can help those who suffer from migraines and chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as people who are trying to cut back on alcohol and smoking.
In addition, pantothenic acid helps our bodies convert fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to energy. It is ubiquitous, meaning that it is needed and found in every cell in the body and is especially concentrated in the organs. Vitamin B5 is an important part of coenzyme A, which is a chemical that is part of many metabolic functions in the body. Like other B-vitamins, vitamin B5 helps both our gastrointestinal tract work properly and other vitamins do their jobs. It may also help wounds heal faster.
If your body is running low on pantothenic acid, you may experience headache, fatigue, nausea, and tingling of the hands. Please note that a true deficiency is quite rare as it is found in so many foods. Besides the steak and mushrooms mentioned above, pantothenic acid can also be found in eggs, fresh vegetables, legumes, nuts, pork, saltwater fish, whole rye flour and whole wheat.
Balch and Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, page 17