Nutrition Market

The Benefits of Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): A Comprehensive Overview

Abstract

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. This article provides an in-depth exploration of the benefits of vitamin B5, its sources, and the potential consequences of deficiency. The article also examines the current research on vitamin B5’s role in cardiovascular health, energy metabolism, nervous system function, mental performance, stress response regulation, wound healing, and rheumatoid arthritis symptom relief.

1. Introduction

1.1. What is Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)?

Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is part of the B-complex family of vitamins. It is an essential nutrient, meaning that the body cannot produce it on its own and must obtain it through dietary sources or supplements (Ods.od.nih.gov, 2021). Pantothenic acid plays a vital role in the synthesis of coenzyme A (CoA), a molecule that is critical for numerous biochemical reactions in the body, including the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins (Leonardi et al., 2005).

1.2. Sources of Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is found in a wide variety of foods, making it relatively easy to obtain through a balanced diet. Some of the richest dietary sources of pantothenic acid include (Ods.od.nih.gov, 2021):

  • Meat, particularly beef, chicken, and organ meats
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat
  • Vegetables, especially mushrooms, avocados, and sweet potatoes
  • Dairy products, including milk and yoghurt
  • Legumes, such as lentils and split peas

In addition to dietary sources, vitamin B5 is also available in supplement form, often as part of a B-complex vitamin or as a standalone supplement (Kelly, 2011).

1.3. The Role of Vitamin B5 in the Body

Vitamin B5 plays a crucial role in numerous physiological processes. Its primary function is to serve as a precursor for coenzyme A (CoA), which is essential for the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins (Leonardi et al., 2005). CoA is also involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol, and acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is critical for proper nervous system function (Ods.od.nih.gov, 2021).

In addition to its role in CoA synthesis, vitamin B5 is also involved in the production of red blood cells, the maintenance of a healthy digestive tract, and the regulation of the body’s stress response (Kelly, 2011).

2. Benefits of Vitamin B5

2.1. Cardiovascular Health

2.1.1. Lowering LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Research has shown that vitamin B5, particularly in the form of pantethine, may have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A study by Gaddi et al. (1984) found that supplementation with 900 mg of pantethine per day for 8 weeks resulted in a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in patients with dyslipidemia.

2.1.2. Pantethine: A Derivative of Vitamin B5 and Its Effects on Heart Function

Pantethine, a derivative of vitamin B5, has been the focus of several studies investigating its potential cardioprotective effects. A triple-blinded, placebo- and diet-controlled study by Evans et al. (2014) found that supplementation with 600 mg of pantethine per day for 16 weeks led to significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and non-HDL cholesterol in subjects with low to moderate cardiovascular risk.

The mechanism behind pantethine’s lipid-lowering effects is thought to involve its ability to inhibit the activity of acetyl-CoA carboxylase, a key enzyme in fatty acid synthesis (Bocos & Herrera, 1998). By reducing the synthesis of fatty acids, pantethine may help to lower the production of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

2.2. Energy Metabolism

2.2.1. Synthesising Coenzyme A (CoA) for Energy Production

Vitamin B5 plays a critical role in energy metabolism through its involvement in the synthesis of coenzyme A (CoA). CoA is a central molecule in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, serving as a carrier of acyl groups and facilitating numerous enzymatic reactions (Leonardi et al., 2005).

The synthesis of CoA from pantothenic acid is a five-step process that requires the presence of other nutrients, such as cysteine and ATP (Leonardi et al., 2005). Once formed, CoA participates in the citric acid cycle, a series of chemical reactions that generate energy in the form of ATP (Pietrocola et al., 2015).

2.2.2. Breaking Down Sugars (Glucose) for Energy

Vitamin B5, through its role in CoA synthesis, is essential for the breakdown of glucose for energy production. CoA is a key cofactor in the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex, which catalyses the oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvate to form acetyl-CoA (Pietrocola et al., 2015). Acetyl-CoA then enters the citric acid cycle, where it is further oxidised to generate ATP, the primary energy currency of the cell.

In addition to its role in glucose metabolism, CoA is also involved in the breakdown of fatty acids through the process of beta-oxidation (Leonardi et al., 2005). This process generates acetyl-CoA, which can then enter the citric acid cycle to produce ATP.

2.3. Nervous System Function

2.3.1. Creating Acetylcholine for Communication Between the Nervous System, Organs, and Muscles

Vitamin B5 is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system due to its role in the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that facilitates communication between nerve cells and target tissues, such as muscles and glands (Ods.od.nih.gov, 2021).

Acetylcholine is synthesised from choline and acetyl-CoA, the latter of which is derived from the metabolism of glucose and fatty acids (Ferreira-Vieira et al., 2016). Vitamin B5, in the form of CoA, is a crucial cofactor in the enzymatic reaction that transfers an acetyl group from acetyl-CoA to choline, forming acetylcholine (Ferreira-Vieira et al., 2016).

Acetylcholine plays a vital role in numerous physiological processes, including muscle contraction, memory formation, and the regulation of the autonomic nervous system (Ferreira-Vieira et al., 2016). Deficiencies in acetylcholine have been linked to various neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and myasthenia gravis (Ferreira-Vieira et al., 2016).

2.4. Mental Performance

2.4.1. Decreasing the Risk of Brain Function Illnesses, Age-related Memory Loss, and Neurodegeneration

Recent studies have suggested that vitamin B5 may play a role in maintaining cognitive function and reducing the risk of age-related neurological disorders. A study by Xu et al. (2020) found that cerebral deficiency of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) was associated with neurodegeneration and dementia in patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease.

Similarly, a study by Patassini et al. (2019) investigated the potential link between vitamin B5 deficiency and neurodegeneration in Huntington’s disease. The authors found that cerebral vitamin B5 deficiency was associated with metabolic perturbations and neurodegeneration in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease.

2.4.2. Research: Xu et al. (2020) and Patassini et al. (2019) – Cerebral Deficiency of Vitamin B5 and Its Link to Neurodegeneration and Dementia

The studies by Xu et al. (2020) and Patassini et al. (2019) provide valuable insights into the potential role of vitamin B5 in maintaining cognitive function and preventing neurodegeneration.

Xu et al. (2020) conducted a post-mortem study of brain tissue from patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease and age-matched controls. They found that vitamin B5 levels were significantly lower in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients compared to controls. Furthermore, the authors demonstrated that vitamin B5 deficiency was associated with increased levels of amyloid-beta, a protein that is known to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and contribute to neurodegeneration.

Patassini et al. (2019) used a mouse model of Huntington’s disease to investigate the potential link between vitamin B5 deficiency and neurodegeneration. They found that vitamin B5 levels were significantly reduced in the brains of Huntington’s disease mice compared to wild-type controls. The authors also demonstrated that vitamin B5 deficiency was associated with metabolic perturbations, including alterations in the levels of amino acids and lipids, which may contribute to the pathogenesis of Huntington’s disease.

Together, these studies suggest that vitamin B5 may play a crucial role in maintaining cognitive function and preventing neurodegeneration. However, more research is needed to fully elucidate the mechanisms underlying these effects and to determine whether vitamin B5 supplementation could be a potential therapeutic strategy for age-related neurological disorders.

2.5. Stress Response Regulation

2.5.1. Regulating Adrenal Function and Cortisol Production

Vitamin B5 plays a crucial role in regulating the body’s stress response through its effects on adrenal function and cortisol production. The adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, are responsible for producing a variety of hormones, including cortisol, which is released in response to stress (Papadimitriou & Priftis, 2009).

Vitamin B5, in the form of CoA, is essential for the synthesis of cholesterol, which serves as a precursor for the production of steroid hormones, including cortisol (Papadimitriou & Priftis, 2009). Studies have shown that vitamin B5 deficiency can lead to impaired adrenal function and reduced cortisol production (Kelly, 2011).

2.5.2. Stimulating Adrenal Cells and Maintaining Normal Cortisol Levels for Motivation and Concentration

In addition to its role in cortisol synthesis, vitamin B5 has been shown to stimulate the function of adrenal cells directly. A study by Jaroenporn et al. (2008) demonstrated that pantothenic acid stimulated the proliferation and secretory activity of adrenal cortical cells in vitro.

Maintaining normal cortisol levels is essential for various physiological processes, including the regulation of blood sugar, blood pressure, and immune function (Papadimitriou & Priftis, 2009). Cortisol also plays a role in cognitive function, particularly in the areas of motivation and concentration (Lupien et al., 2007). Adequate vitamin B5 intake may help to support normal cortisol levels and, consequently, promote optimal cognitive performance.

2.6. Wound Healing and Skin Health

2.6.1. Accelerating the Normal Healing Process by Improving Cellular Multiplication

Vitamin B5 has been shown to play a role in wound healing by promoting the proliferation and migration of skin cells. A study by Vaxman et al. (1995) investigated the effect of pantothenic acid and ascorbic acid supplementation on the wound healing process in humans. The authors found that the combination of pantothenic acid and ascorbic acid significantly accelerated the healing of skin wounds compared to placebo.

The mechanism behind vitamin B5’s wound-healing effects is thought to involve its role in the synthesis of CoA, which is essential for the production of lipids and proteins that are necessary for cell growth and repair (Kelly, 2011). Additionally, vitamin B5 has been shown to stimulate the proliferation of fibroblasts, the primary cell type involved in wound healing (Lacroix et al., 1988).

2.6.2. Research: Vaxman et al. (1995) – Double-blind, Prospective, and Randomised Trial on the Effect of Pantothenic Acid and Ascorbic Acid Supplementation on Human Skin Wound Healing Process

The study by Vaxman et al. (1995) provides valuable insights into the potential role of vitamin B5 in wound healing. The authors conducted a double-blind, prospective, and randomised trial involving 49 patients with chronic skin ulcers. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a combination of pantothenic acid (200 mg per day) and ascorbic acid (1,000 mg per day) or placebo for 21 days.

The authors found that the group receiving pantothenic acid and ascorbic acid supplementation experienced a significantly greater reduction in wound surface area compared to the placebo group. Furthermore, the supplementation group had a higher percentage of completely healed wounds at the end of the study period.

These findings suggest that vitamin B5, in combination with vitamin C, may be an effective adjunctive therapy for promoting wound healing. However, more research is needed to fully elucidate the optimal dosage and duration of supplementation, as well as to investigate the potential benefits of vitamin B5 supplementation alone.

2.6.3. Treating Skin Reactions from Radiation Therapy

In addition to its potential benefits for wound healing, vitamin B5 has also been investigated as a treatment for skin reactions resulting from radiation therapy. Radiation dermatitis is a common side effect of radiation therapy, characterised by skin irritation, erythema, and desquamation (Schmuth et al., 2002).

A study by Schmuth et al. (2002) investigated the use of dexpanthenol, a derivative of pantothenic acid, in the treatment of radiation-induced skin reactions. The authors found that topical application of dexpanthenol significantly reduced the severity of skin reactions compared to placebo.

The mechanism behind vitamin B5’s protective effects against radiation dermatitis is thought to involve its role in promoting skin cell proliferation and repair, as well as its anti-inflammatory properties (Schmuth et al., 2002). However, more research is needed to fully understand the optimal use of vitamin B5 derivatives in the management of radiation-induced skin reactions.

2.7. Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptom Relief

2.7.1. Lower Levels of Pantothenic Acid in the Blood of People with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that primarily affects the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling (McInnes & Schett, 2017). Some studies have suggested that people with rheumatoid arthritis may have lower levels of pantothenic acid in their blood compared to healthy individuals.

A study by Barton-Wright and Elliott (1963) found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis had significantly lower blood levels of pantothenic acid compared to healthy controls. The authors suggested that this deficiency might be due to increased utilisation of pantothenic acid in the inflammatory process or decreased absorption of the vitamin from the gastrointestinal tract.

While these findings suggest a potential link between vitamin B5 deficiency and rheumatoid arthritis, more research is needed to determine whether vitamin B5 supplementation could be an effective adjunctive therapy for managing the symptoms of this condition.

3. Vitamin B5 Deficiency

3.1. Causes of Deficiency

3.1.1. Severe Malnutrition

Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare in developed countries, as the vitamin is widely distributed in food sources. However, severe malnutrition, particularly in developing nations, can lead to a deficiency in pantothenic acid and other essential nutrients (Kelly, 2011).

Malnutrition can result from a variety of factors, including poverty, food insecurity, and medical conditions that impair nutrient absorption or increase nutrient requirements (Saunders & Smith, 2010). In cases of severe malnutrition, a comprehensive nutritional assessment and intervention, including the provision of vitamin B5-rich foods or supplements, may be necessary to correct deficiencies and prevent associated health complications.

3.1.2. Pantothenate Kinase-Associated Neurodegeneration (PKAN)

Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN) is a rare genetic disorder characterised by progressive neurodegeneration and iron accum

Key Highlights and Actionable Tips

  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including energy metabolism, nervous system function, and the synthesis of coenzyme A (CoA).
  • Vitamin B5 can be obtained through a balanced diet that includes meat, whole grains, vegetables, dairy products, and legumes. It is also available in supplement form.
  • Research suggests that vitamin B5, particularly in the form of pantethine, may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, potentially benefiting cardiovascular health.
  • Vitamin B5 is essential for the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter critical for proper nervous system function and communication between nerve cells, organs, and muscles.
  • Studies indicate that cerebral deficiency of vitamin B5 may be associated with neurodegeneration and dementia in conditions like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, highlighting its potential role in maintaining cognitive function.
  • Vitamin B5 plays a role in regulating the body’s stress response by supporting adrenal function and cortisol production, which may help maintain motivation and concentration.
  • Vitamin B5 has been shown to accelerate wound healing by improving cellular multiplication and stimulating the proliferation of fibroblasts. It may also help treat skin reactions from radiation therapy.
  • Some studies suggest that people with rheumatoid arthritis may have lower blood levels of pantothenic acid, indicating a potential link between vitamin B5 deficiency and the condition.

What is the recommended daily intake of vitamin B5 for adults?

The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has established the Adequate Intake (AI) for pantothenic acid at 5 mg per day for adults aged 19 years and older. This recommendation is based on the amount of pantothenic acid typically consumed by healthy people, as there is insufficient evidence to establish a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Can vitamin B5 supplements help with weight loss?

While some proponents claim that vitamin B5 supplements can aid in weight loss, there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to support this claim. Vitamin B5 plays a role in energy metabolism, but its effects on weight loss have not been conclusively demonstrated in well-designed clinical trials. It is important to note that a balanced diet and regular exercise remain the most effective strategies for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Are there any potential side effects or interactions associated with vitamin B5 supplements?

Vitamin B5 is generally considered safe when consumed in recommended amounts, either through diet or supplements. There is no established Upper Limit (UL) for pantothenic acid, as there have been no reports of toxicity or adverse effects from high intakes. However, very high doses of pantothenic acid (e.g., 10-20 grams per day) have been associated with mild side effects such as diarrhoea and gastrointestinal discomfort.

It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications, as supplements may interact with certain drugs or affect the absorption of other nutrients.

Can vitamin B5 help improve skin health and reduce the appearance of wrinkles?

Some studies suggest that vitamin B5, particularly in the form of dexpanthenol (a derivative of pantothenic acid), may help improve skin health and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Dexpanthenol has been shown to promote skin hydration, elasticity, and wound healing. However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent of vitamin B5’s benefits for skin health and to determine the optimal dosage and formulation for topical or oral use.

It is important to remember that while vitamin B5 may offer some benefits for skin health, maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, protecting the skin from sun damage, and following a consistent skincare routine are essential for promoting healthy, youthful-looking skin.

Are there any specific groups of people who may be at a higher risk of vitamin B5 deficiency?

Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare in developed countries, as the vitamin is widely distributed in food sources. However, certain groups of people may be at a higher risk of deficiency:

  1. Individuals with severe malnutrition, particularly in developing nations, may be at risk of deficiency in pantothenic acid and other essential nutrients.

  2. People with malabsorption disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or coeliac disease, may have difficulty absorbing adequate amounts of vitamin B5 from their diet.

  3. Individuals with genetic disorders, such as pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN), may have impaired vitamin B5 metabolism and be at a higher risk of deficiency.

  4. Alcoholics may be at an increased risk of vitamin B5 deficiency due to poor dietary intake and impaired absorption of nutrients.

If you suspect that you may be at risk of vitamin B5 deficiency, consult with a healthcare provider who can assess your nutritional status and recommend appropriate dietary changes or supplementation if necessary.

References

Barton-Wright, E. C., & Elliott, W. A. (1963). The pantothenic acid metabolism of rheumatoid arthritis. The Lancet, 282(7321), 862-863. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(63)90783-0

Bocos, C., & Herrera, E. (1998). Pantethine depresses the hepatic synthesis of apolipoprotein B and the plasma levels of cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 9(10), 590-596. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0955-2863(98)00053-X

Evans, M., Rumberger, J. A., Azumano, I., Napolitano, J. J., Citrolo, D., & Kamiya, T. (2014). Pantethine, a derivative of vitamin B5, favorably alters total, LDL and non-HDL cholesterol in low to moderate cardiovascular risk subjects eligible for statin therapy: a triple-blinded placebo and diet-controlled investigation. Vascular Health and Risk Management, 10, 89–100. https://doi.org/10.2147/VHRM.S57116

Ferreira-Vieira, T. H., Guimaraes, I. M., Silva, F. R., & Ribeiro, F. M. (2016). Alzheimer’s disease: Targeting the cholinergic system. Current Neuropharmacology, 14(1), 101-115. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X13666150716165726

Gaddi, A., Descovich, G. C., Noseda, G., Fragiacomo, C., Colombo, L., Craveri, A., Montanari, G., & Sirtori, C. R. (1984). Controlled evaluation of pantethine, a natural hypolipidemic compound, in patients with different forms of hyperlipoproteinemia. Atherosclerosis, 50(1), 73-83. https://doi.org/10.1016/0021-9150(84)90010-7

Jaroenporn, S., Yamamoto, T., Itabashi, A., Nakamura, K., Azumano, I., Watanabe, G., & Taya, K. (2008). Effects of pantothenic acid supplementation on adrenal steroid secretion from male rats. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 31(6), 1205-1208. https://doi.org/10.1248/bpb.31.1205

Kelly, G. S. (2011). Pantothenic acid. Alternative Medicine Review, 16(3), 263-274.

Lacroix, B., Didier, E., & Grenier, J. F. (1988). Role of pantothenic and ascorbic acid in wound healing processes: in vitro study on fibroblasts. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 58(4), 407-413.

Leonardi, R., Zhang, Y. M., Rock, C. O., & Jackowski, S. (2005). Coenzyme A: back in action. Progress in Lipid Research, 44(2-3), 125-153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plipres.2005.04.001

Lupien, S. J., Maheu, F., Tu, M., Fiocco, A., & Schramek, T. E. (2007). The effects of stress and stress hormones on human cognition: Implications for the field of brain and cognition. Brain and Cognition, 65(3), 209-237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2007.02.007

McInnes, I. B., & Schett, G. (2017). Pathogenetic insights from the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The Lancet, 389(10086), 2328-2337. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31472-1

Ods.od.nih.gov. (2021). Pantothenic Acid. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/PantothenicAcid-HealthProfessional/

Papadimitriou, A., & Priftis, K. N. (2009). Regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Neuroimmunomodulation, 16(5), 265-271. https://doi.org/10.1159/000216184

Patassini, S., Begley, P., Xu, J., Church, S. J., Kureishy, N., Reid, S. J., Waldvogel, H. J., Faull, R., Snell, R., Unwin, R. D., & Cooper, G. (2019). Cerebral Vitamin B5 (D-Pantothenic Acid) Deficiency as a Potential Cause of Metabolic Perturbation and Neurodegeneration in Huntington’s Disease. Metabolites, 9(6), 113. https://doi.org/10.3390/metabo9060113

Pietrocola, F., Galluzzi, L., Bravo-San Pedro, J. M., Madeo, F., & Kroemer, G. (2015). Acetyl coenzyme A: a central metabolite and second messenger. Cell Metabolism, 21(6), 805-821. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2015.05.014

Saunders, J., & Smith, T. (2010). Malnutrition: causes and consequences. Clinical Medicine, 10(6), 624-627. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.10-6-624

Schmuth, M., Wimmer, M. A., Hofer, S., Sztankay, A., Weinlich, G., Linder, D. M., Elias, P. M., Fritsch, P. O., & Fritsch, E. (2002). Topical corticosteroid therapy for acute radiation dermatitis: a prospective, randomized, double-blind study. British Journal of Dermatology, 146(6), 983-991. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.04751.x

Vaxman, F., Olender, S., Lambert, A., Nisand, G., Aprahamian, M., Bruch, J. F., Didier, E., Volkmar, P., & Grenier, J. F. (1995). Effect of pantothenic acid and ascorbic acid supplementation on human skin wound healing process. A double-blind, prospective and randomized trial. European Surgical Research, 27(3), 158–166. https://doi.org/10.1159/000129400

Xu, J., Patassini, S., Begley, P., Church, S., Waldvogel, H. J., Faull, R., Unwin, R. D., & Cooper, G. (2020). Cerebral deficiency of vitamin B5 (d-pantothenic acid; pantothenate) as a potentially-reversible cause of neurodegeneration and dementia in sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 527(3), 676–681. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2020.05.015

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