Pantothenic acid is one of eight water-soluble B vitamins, which are all soluble in water and dispersed throughout the body dissolved in fluid. They are not stored in the body to any appreciable extent so must be replenished every day through diet. Any activity on the body lasts for 14-18 hours after ingestion then their potency decreases. Excessive intake of water-soluble vitamins is passed out through the urine. If the diet contains less than 50% RDA of water-soluble vitamins, symptoms from deficiencies may be displayed in as little as 4 weeks; much quicker than that of fat-soluble vitamins.
Why is it needed?
B5 is essential for human growth, reproduction and many normal bodily processes. Including the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins, production of glucose in the body, breakdown of fats and production of cholesterol and certain hormones. B5 is also important for the production of haemoglobin, which is the special substance inside red blood cells that transports oxygen to all the tissues in the body. The body does not break down B5, excreting large amounts of this vitamin in the urine. B5 is easily absorbed from the intestines and is distributed to all tissues in the body. B5 is also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract, helping the body use other vitamins (particularly riboflavin) more effectively.
B5 is thought to help prevent aging and wrinkles and is important for hair and healthy skin and often used in a variety of cosmetic products. B5 also helps in the activity of the immune system and fights infections by aiding the process of building antibodies.
Vitamin B5 serves many important functions in the nervous system — for example, B5 contributes to the production of neurotransmitters, which are important to the ability of the nerves to communicate. Through its adrenal support, B5 may reduce potentially toxic effects of antibiotics and radiation
What happens if I’m deficient?
It is rare that a B5 deficiency is present in humans that consume a normal diet because B5 is available from a large range of food sources. Everyone has unique vitamin requirements and some people may need more B5 in their diet that another person. Having said that in times of high stress your requirements may not be obtained sufficiently from your diet.
B5 deficiency causes depression, personality changes, heart problems, increased risk of infections, fatigue, abdominal pains, digestive disorders, vomiting, sleep disturbances, numbness and altered sensation in the arms and legs, muscle weakness, cramps, painful and burning feet, dizzy spells, restlessness, retarded growth, skin abnormalities, increased sensitivity to insulin (the hormone that lowers blood glucose levels), resulting in problems with blood sugar metabolism such as hypoglycaemia being the most common, decreased blood cholesterol levels, decreased hydrochloric acid production and other digestive symptoms, along with decreased potassium levels.
Fatigue is often the earliest and most common symptom of pantothenic acid deficiency often related to adrenal overload. A diet high in refined and processed foods or a reduction or destruction of intestinal flora, often after antibiotic use, can lead to a vitamin B5 deficiency reducing the intestinal bacteria and therefore production of pantothenic acid in the colon is diminished.
As people age levels of hydrochloric acid diminish B5 is then an essential vitamin to include in your diet to aid in digestive function.
If you have any gut related disorders, leaky gut syndrome, cealiac, chrons, food allergies and any bowel problems you may benefit from pantothenic acid.
What foods contain B5?
Good sources of pantothenic acid include all organ meats, brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, fish, chicken, whole grain cereals, brown rice, cheese, peanuts, dried beans, and a variety of vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, green peas, cauliflower, and avocados, and legumes. B5 is also made by the bacterial flora of human intestines providing, of course there is a balanced bacterial flora.
This amazing vitamin is also found in yeasts, moulds, bacteria, and plant and animal cells, as well as in human blood plasma and lymph fluid.
B5 is stable in moist heat and oxidation or reduction (adding or subtracting an electron), though it is easily destroyed by acids (such as vinegar) or alkalis (such as baking soda) and by dry heat. Over half of the pantothenic acid in wheat is lost during milling, and about one-third is degraded in meat during cooking. In many whole foods, B5 is readily available.
People are becoming more aware of a healthy diet, though there are others who still consume heavily processed foods (available B5 activity is lost during refinement of foods) due to our wanting fast food with our fast pace, time poor lifestyle of the modern world, this only impacts further on the adrenals and nervous system.
Therapeutic ranges are more like 250–500 mg daily and even higher. It is essential that you always take B5 with other B complex vitamins to avoid a metabolic imbalance. Individual needs vary according to food intake, degree of stress, and whether you are pregnant or lactating. Those people who eat a diet of processed foods and have a stressful lifestyle, or have allergies require higher amounts of pantothenic acid.
As with other B vitamins, there are no specific toxic effects from high doses of pantothenic acid. Over 1,000 mg daily has been taken for over six months with no side effects; when 1,500 mg or more is taken daily for several weeks, some people experience a superficial sensitivity in their teeth.
I recommend seeing a professional naturopath or nutritionist because each person’s needs vary and your overall symptom profile needs to be assessed correctly in order for you to gain optimum health and benefits from supplements or remedies that you take. Also, you do not continue to take single B vitamins or any supplements for that matter without a break. Usually when the deficiency has been resolved the remedy is no longer required.
This is a vitamin I have seen excellent results with concerning digestive function particular when stress over load is present helping to eliminate bloating. It is one vitamin I would always bring into the regime for low blood sugar and depression, particularly when suffering from grief and trauma and with adrenal fatigue.
It is not a good idea to self-administer and if someone is suffering from adrenal stress they will require homeopathic’s to support the B5 supplementation. Likewise if you experience low blood sugar swings you will need other minerals to support the hypoglycaemic attacks and dietary changes and so on. The correct dose range for your situation will need to be decided upon and supervision of duration.
Lyn Craven is a Practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki Therapist, Meditation Teacher, and a Corporate Health Consultant. Lyn is a health researcher/writer of various topics for Health magazines and has produced a meditation CD assisting people manage stress. This CD is available on line – 2 minute sound sample is on the website. She runs a private practice in Sydney and conducts workshops in Sydney & Sunshine Coast. She can be contacted on 0403 231 804 firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.lyncravencorporatehealth-naturopath.com