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Vitamin B5 Supplements

Understanding Pantothenic Acid – Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is a water-soluble B complex vitamin. Its name is derived from the Greek word "pantos," meaning everywhere, indicating how ubiquitous this nutrient is in food sources. Chemically, pantothenic acid consists of pantoic acid bonded to beta-alanine.

Pantothenic acid is an essential nutrient, meaning it must be obtained from food or supplements as the body cannot synthesize it on its own. It plays a number of critical roles in the body's metabolism and energy production.

Vitamin B5 and Health

Vitamin B5 is vital for several physiological functions:

  • Energy production - Pantothenic acid is needed to synthesize coenzyme A (CoA), an essential molecule that is involved in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to produce energy. It also plays a role in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of cells.
  • Fatty acid oxidation - CoA is required for the metabolism of fatty acids. Pantothenic acid supports the breakdown of fats for energy production.
  • Neurotransmitter synthesis - Vitamin B5 participates in the production of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and dopamine which are important for brain health.
  • Stress response - Pantothenic acid supports the adrenal glands which produce cortisol and regulate the body's response to stress.
  • Wound healing - This vitamin aids in tissue repair and accelerated wound healing. It stimulates the proliferation of fibroblasts which are involved in collagen synthesis.
  • Immune function - Vitamin B5 is needed to produce antibodies and support a healthy immune response.
  • Hormone balance - Pantothenic acid plays a role in the production of sex and stress hormones in the adrenal glands and ovaries/testes.

The optimal intake of vitamin B5 depends on age, health status, and other factors. Here are the recommended intakes for pantothenic acid in Australia:

Infants

Age AI (mg/day)
0-6 months 1.7
7-12 months 2.2

Children & Adolescents

Age AI (mg/day)
1-3 years 3.5
4-8 years 4.0
Boys 9-13 years 5.0
Boys 14-18 years 6.0
Girls 9-13 years 4.0
Girls 14-18 years 4.0

Adults

Age AI (mg/day)
Men 19-30 years 6
Men 31-50 years 6
Men 51-70 years 6
Men >70 years 6
Women 19-30 years 4
Women 31-50 years 4
Women 51-70 years 4
Women >70 years 4

Pregnancy

Age AI (mg/day)
14-18 years 5
19-30 years 5
31-50 years 5

Lactation

Age AI (mg/day)
14-18 years 6
19-30 years 6
31-50 years 6

Reference: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand

Source of vitamin b5

There are two main supplemental forms of vitamin B5 - pantothenic acid and panthenol. This water-soluble vitamin is also found naturally in many food sources.

Pantothenic Acid in Supplements

Pantothenic acid is the actual form of vitamin B5 used by the body. Supplemental vitamin B5 is available as either calcium pantothenate or sodium pantothenate. These neutralize the acidity of pantothenic acid to improve stability and absorption.

Calcium pantothenate is the most common type found in multivitamins and B-complex supplements. Sodium pantothenate may be preferred by some as it does not contain calcium. Both forms have equal bioavailability when taken orally.

Benefits of vitamin b5

Panthenol is a stable alcohol form of vitamin B5 that is converted to pantothenic acid in the body. It has similar nutritional effects to pantothenic acid.

Panthenol is also found in hair and skin care products as it has hydrating properties and improves moisture retention. This can enhance hair thickness and shine. Topical application of panthenol allows it to penetrate the outer layers of skin for additional benefits.

How Pantothenic Acid Supplements Work

When taken as an oral supplement, pantothenic acid is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine. Once absorbed, vitamin B5 is transported to cells throughout the body where it can fulfill its many biological functions. Supplements help increase vitamin B5 levels in people with deficiencies or higher needs.

Cellular uptake of vitamin B5 is enhanced by other B complex vitamins like B1, B2, and B7. Therefore, vitamin B5 is often combined with additional B vitamins in supplements for optimal benefits. The recommended daily amount for adults is 5 mg per day. Higher doses are sometimes used in supplements but official upper limits have not been established.

Pantothenic Acid Deficiency

While deficiencies are rare, some people can become deficient in pantothenic acid due to dietary inadequacy, malnutrition, alcoholism, or certain health conditions. Recognizing the causes, symptoms, and treatment of vitamin B5 deficiency is important.

Causes and Symptoms

Causes of pantothenic acid deficiency include:

  • Inadequate dietary intake - Eating a diet low in vitamin B5 foods can lead to deficiency over time. Groups at risk include people with restrictive diets, the elderly, and vegetarians.
  • Malabsorption - Certain gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis can impair vitamin B5 absorption.
  • Medications - Oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants, and antibiotics may increase the need for pantothenic acid.
  • Alcoholism - Excessive alcohol consumption can deplete vitamin B5 levels and impair absorption.

Symptoms of pantothenic acid deficiency are generally non-specific but may include:

  • Fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps
  • Headaches, insomnia
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Irritability, depression
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Digestive issues like nausea and abdominal cramps

Since vitamin B5 deficiency rarely occurs in isolation, these symptoms may also result from deficiencies in other nutrients like B1, B2, B3, or B6.

Treating Pantothenic Acid Deficiency

The primary treatment for pantothenic acid deficiency is vitamin B5 supplementation along with a diet high in vitamin B5-rich foods. Doses of 10-25 mg per day are typically used to reverse deficiency. Supplements should contain pantothenic acid as calcium or sodium pantothenate.

For malnutrition-related deficiencies, intravenous pantothenic acid may be used initially to restore blood levels rapidly. Ongoing vitamin B5 supplementation plus a well-balanced diet can help prevent reoccurrence of deficiencies.

Monitoring symptom improvements and adjusting supplementation based on individual responses is important. People with impaired absorption may need higher oral doses or injectable vitamin B5 administration.

Vitamin B5 for Skin and Hair Health

One of the top uses of pantothenic acid supplements is enhancing the health and appearance of skin and hair. Studies show vitamin B5:

  • Speeds wound healing and reduces skin reactions from radiation therapy.
  • Improves hydration, thickness, and strength of hair.
  • May reduce oil production, acne lesions, and facial redness when applied topically.
  • Decreases signs of skin aging like fine lines and wrinkles.

These benefits are largely attributed to vitamin B5's role in supporting collagen production. It stimulates fibroblasts to increase synthesis of collagen and elastin.

Role of Vitamin B5 in Energy Production

As a critical component of CoA, vitamin B5 helps unlock energy from food to produce ATP. Clinical studies show that pantothenic acid:

  • Improves muscular endurance capacity during exercise.
  • Increases oxygen utilization during high intensity activities.
  • May enhance athletic performance and training adaptations like increased muscle strength.

While promising, more research is still needed to confirm performance benefits, optimal dosing protocols, and Respondent groups most likely to respond.

Other Health Benefits

Research indicates vitamin B5 may also:

  • Support mental performance, focus, and motivation.
  • Reduce headaches, stress, and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Lower "bad" LDL cholesterol while raising "good" HDL cholesterol.
  • Improve allergic reactions by regulating histamine response.
  • Enhance immune function through increased antibody production.

Again, larger clinical studies are needed to verify many of vitamin B5's proposed therapeutic benefits. But current evidence indicates pantothenic acid is important for overall health.

Possible Side Effects and Interactions of Pantothenic Acid

Oral vitamin B5 supplements are considered very safe since toxicity is exceptionally rare. However, some side effects and drug interactions are possible.

Potential Side Effects

At recommended doses, vitamin B5 supplements are usually well tolerated without side effects. Possible adverse reactions may include:

  • Diarrhea, nausea, heartburn - especially at high doses.
  • Allergic reactions in those hypersensitive to vitamin B5 compounds.
  • Hypoglycemia in diabetics when taken with other B vitamins.
  • Overstimulation, restlessness - may disrupt sleep if taken before bed.

There is no established Tolerable Upper Limit (UL) for pantothenic acid due to lack of observed toxicity. Intakes above 2,000 mg per day have been reported with minimal adverse effects.

Interactions

Vitamin B5 supplements may interact with some medications and health supplements:

  • Orlistat - weight loss drug decreases vitamin B5 absorption.
  • Antibiotics - can kill gut bacteria that produce B vitamins.
  • Antihypertensives - vitamin B5 may enhance blood pressure reduction.
  • Antidiabetic drugs - increased risk of hypoglycemia.
  • High dose niacin - may deplete pantothenic acid.
  • Topical steroids - vitamin B5 improves skin penetration so effects may be enhanced.

Those taking any medications or supplements should consult a doctor before using high dose vitamin B5 supplements. Therapeutic doses may also require medical supervision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency?

Symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency may include fatigue, muscle cramps, digestive issues, numbness/tingling, depression, impaired wound healing, and headaches. Since vitamin B5 deficiency is rare, these symptoms typically arise from deficiencies in other B vitamins as well.

What is the recommended daily intake of vitamin B5?

The RDA for vitamin B5 is 5 mg per day for adults. Intakes up to 25 mg from supplements are generally considered safe and beneficial for increased energy, cardiovascular health, and mental performance.

When is the best time to take vitamin B5?

Vitamin B5 supplements can be taken anytime during the day. It's best to take them with meals for optimal nutrient absorption. To avoid potential sleep disturbances, avoid taking high doses at night.

Can you take too much vitamin B5?

Very high doses of vitamin B5 are unlikely to cause harm or toxicity. However, mild gastrointestinal side effects have been reported with excessive intakes. Doses up to 2,000 mg per day have not caused serious adverse effects.

Does vitamin B5 help with acne and skin health?

Yes, vitamin B5 plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin and reducing acne. It's involved in cell growth, wound healing, and collagen production. Vitamin B5 also acts as a cofactor for enzymes involved in fat metabolism, which may impact sebum (oil) production.

Does vitamin B5 help you lose weight?

There is some limited evidence that vitamin B5 supplements may help boost metabolism, increase fat burning, and reduce body fat. However, the effects are likely to be small. More research is needed on vitamin B5 and weight loss.

Can you take too much vitamin B5 topically?

When applied to skin, vitamin B5 is not known to cause any adverse effects even at high concentrations. Since little is absorbed through the skin, topical vitamin B5 creams and serums are considered very safe. However, some individuals may experience minor irritation.

Does vitamin B5 improve hair growth?

Yes, vitamin B5 plays a key role in hair follicle health. It supports cell metabolism involved in hair growth and protects against damage. Vitamin B5 deficiency can contribute to hair loss. Supplements may help thicken hair and stimulate growth, especially when combined with biotin.

What drugs should not be taken with vitamin B5?

Certain medications may interact with vitamin B5, including orlistat, blood pressure drugs, diabetes medications, antibiotics, high dose niacin, and steroids. Those taking any prescription drugs should consult their doctor before taking vitamin B5 supplements.

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