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Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5): Functions, Food Sources and Intake

From a physiological point of view, the most recognized property of pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 is its diligent role as an energy producer. This vitamin is a structural part of an essential compound in metabolism, such as coenzyme A. In other words, it helps convert food into energy for the body.

Since it is an essential micronutrient, it should be part of your food intake.

Many foods contain it, and it is widely distributed in foods of animal and plant origin. Therefore, its deficiency is uncommon and usually does not cause serious problems. However, if you stop taking pantothenic acid for a long time, it can affect the body’s metabolic balance.

Read on to learn more about pantothenic acid, its importance, and the foods that contain it.

What is pantothenic acid?

Pantothenic acid is also known as vitamin B5 and was identified more than 60 years ago. It belongs to the water-soluble group, i.e. those that dissolve in water and do not need a fatty medium to be absorbed. It is essential because the cells cannot produce it.

The name comes from the Greek panthos, which means “everywhere”. It is important in all phases of life as it is an important part of the transport of energizing compounds.

Functions of vitamin B5

The basic functions of pantothenic acid are manifold. The most important are the following.

Enables the production of energy for the body

Pantothenic acid is a structural part of coenzyme A. It is a transporter of energy-producing chemical groups involved in metabolic reactions of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Synthesizes various compounds of lipid origin

The most common form of vitamin B5 is found in CoA. When it breaks down in the intestine, the acid is released. Coenzyme A facilitates the synthesis of hormones, cholesterol and neurotransmitters.

Enables the production of melatonin and hemoglobin

Coenzyme A derivatives are used to synthesize melatonin, a hormone that regulates rhythmic processes such as sleep induction. It also reduces free radicals that oxidize cells and prevents neurodegenerative diseases.

The heme group in hemoglobin is also synthesized by coenzyme A derivatives. In addition, the liver’s metabolism of some drugs and toxins requires coenzyme.

Possible health benefits of pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid can help solve some health problems. For example, B5 supplementation can speed wound healing. In people with high blood fat, it helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.

Although these are only preliminary results, so far vitamin B5 supplements are effective in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Recommendations for intake

The National Institute of Health recommends that the amount to be consumed depends on age and gender. The recommended daily amounts are as follows:

  • Children from 1 to 3 years: 2 mg.
  • Children from 4 to 8 years: 3 mg.
  • Children from 9 to 13 years: 4 mg.
  • Young people and adults: 5 mg.
  • Pregnant women: 6 mg.
  • Lactating women: 7 mg.

Foods that contain it

As mentioned, vitamin B5 is found in a wide range of foods.  However, there are some that contain more of it than others.

Because it is susceptible to heat and oxidation, significant amounts of pantothenic acid are lost during food processing. This happens in canned vegetables and meat as well as when refining grains.

Canned meat and fish lose up to 35% during processing. Grain loses up to 47% when the bran is removed. Other important losses occur during preservation, up to 78%. Freezing vegetables reduces vitamin B5 by 57%.

The most important sources are the following:

  • Beef, chicken, shellfish, fish and fish roe, e.g., caviar. Guts, such as liver from chicken and veal has a good content of this vitamin.
  • Whole grains and wheat bran. Cereals such as oats, amaranth, rye and buckwheat.
  • Egg yolks.
  • Nuts and seeds. Especially peanuts and sunflower seeds.
  • Dairy products, such as cheeses. Vitamin B5 stands out, especially in aged cheeses such as Roquefort and Camembert. Since they are fermented by acidic lactic acid bacteria, they synthesize this vitamin as part of their process.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Legumes, such as beans and chickpeas.

Supplement with pantothenic acid

Vitamin B5 is sold as a dietary supplement, alone or combined with other B vitamins.  It is also marketed as a multivitamin and multimineral. It exists in the form of pantethine or calcium pantothenate.

Fortunately, a healthy diet will ensure the supply. Dietary supplements are only recommended when medically indicated.

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