Vitamin B5

What is Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)?

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid and pantothenate, is one of the 8 B vitamins found in the B complex group of vitamins.  

One of the main functions of all the B vitamins is converting carbohydrates into glucose which helps the body produce energy. B-complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. Many of the B-complex vitamins also play an important role in keeping the nervous system healthy and the brain functioning properly.

Pantothenic acid is derived from the Greek root pantos which means "all" or “everywhere” and from Greek word “pantothen” which means ‘from every side’ in reference to its availability in a wide variety of foods.

Vitamin B5 is water-soluble which means your body does not store it and can be rapidly depleted.

Vitamin B5 is required by the body to help the body produce energy through metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. It is needed for red blood cell production, hormone production and assisting the body in regulating cholesterol. There are many studies revealing the potential of vitamin B5 to work as an “anti-stress” vitamin.

Health benefits of Vitamin B5

Reduces high level of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides

Pantothenic acid is used by the body to lower bad cholesterol levels through a derivative known as pantethine. Some studies have shown the benefits of patethine in reducing high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising (HDL) good cholesterol levels with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

Some studies are showing reduction of triglycerides levels and bad cholesterol level in people with diabetes. [1] [2]

Promotes wound healing

Some studies have shown that vitamin B5 with vitamin C can speed up wound healing post-surgery. [3]

Helps with skin health

Some research is showing the ability of vitamin B5 to moisturize the skin.

Dexpanthenol which is a chemical derived from pantethonic acid can be found in many skin moisturizing products, from lotions to creams which serve a multiple of purposes. It can be applied to skin for eczema, poison ivy, diaper rash, acne, insect bites and stings.

Cystic acne appearing as a result of high intake of vitamin b7 (biotin) can often be a sign of vitamin B5 deficiency and may be corrected when both vitamins are taken in the correct amount to work synergistically.[4] [5]

Repairs damaged hair and reduces gray hair

In addition to skin care products vitamin B5 is also added to hair care products. Some shampoos and conditioners contain vitamin B5 due for healthy thick and shiny hair. It has also shown the potential of preventing further thinning of hair but without the ability to reverse hair loss. [6]

There are many factors such as stress which can lead graying of hair color. Some research have found that gray hair is linked to a vitamin B5 deficiency. [7]

Relieves symptoms of allergies

In addition to other vitamins such as vitamin C which can relieve symptoms of hay fever vitamin B5 has also shown to relieve symptoms of allergies. It is also used to effectively clear nasal congestion. As the derivative dexpanthenol, found in ointments for skin it has been effectively used to reduce allergic reactions from insect bites and stings. [8]

Reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Some studies have revealed a marked improvement of symptoms in those with rheumatoid arthritis when supplementing with calcium pantothenate.

Some studies have also found that levels of vitamin B5 tend to be lower in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis when compared to healthy people. People with lowest levels of B5 also revealed to have severe symptoms.

Bruxism teeth grinding

A deficiency of Vitamin B5 which plays an important role in motor activity may be a possible cause for teeth grinding (bruxism). Other possible deficiencies for the condition include calcium and magnesium. Studies are showing those with bruxism often find their symptoms reduced after supplementation of these nutrients. [9]

Anti Stress

Pantethonic acid which is also known as the anti-stress vitamin is involved in the production of hormones in the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland which is needed to balance the effects of stress. Various nutrients which includes pantothenic acid are needed by the adrenal glands in the manufacturing of important hormones such as cortisol, progesterone and epinephrine. High levels of stress can rapidly deplete pantothenic acid and produce symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Supplementing with additional amounts of this nutrient can help replenish these essential hormones. [10] [11]

Agonist / Synergist

Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B7, B9, B10, B12, C, E

Minerals: Cr, K, Na, P Zn


Minerals: Cu

Other: Alcohol

Vitamin B5 can lower copper levels suggesting that elevated copper levels can lower vitamin B5 levels [12]

Food sources of Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is found in a wide variety of foods in both animal and plant based foods. These include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, avocados, tomatoes, lentils, soy beans, sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, wheat germ, offal (liver, kidney from beef and pigs), turkey, chicken, ducks, salmon, yoghurt and milk.

Recommended Dietary Allowance

The amounts recommended for vitamins and minerals are different for each country which can be found on the government website of host country. The nutritional data for each country are based on scientific research which are presented by the scientific academies in each country to help advise governmental departments for food and human nutrition.

Below is a list of some of the countries and the EU for which nutritional guidelines are available found on corresponding official government website (including the national academy of science website for the USA).


The  2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans -  Dietary Reference Intakes

Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes from Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL)


Dietary Reference Intakes includes Tolerable Upper Intake Levels


Nutrition Requirements

Safe Upper Levels (SULs) for Vitamins and Minerals

Australia and New Zealand

Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs) and Upper Level Intake 


Dietary Reference Values for nutrients

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels For Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin B5 Supplementation

Vitamin B5 supplements are available in the form of powders, capsules, tablets, softgels, liquid, multivitamins and B Complex formulas. It is usually available as pantothenic acid and calcium pantothenate.

Vitamin B5 can be destroyed by heat and also sensitive to acids and alkalis. Vitamin B5 is not as sensitive to light exposure.

It is recommended to take B vitamins on an empty stomach, with water and after waking up to absorb all B vitamins.

When taking any single B vitamin regularly it is important to take a B complex to avoid an imbalance of other essential B vitamins.

Deficiency symptoms of Vitamin B5

Although vitamin B5 deficiency is unlikely certain lifestyle factors can cause a deficiency, however a deficiency in B5 is uncommon as it is readily available in a wide variety of foods. The following are vitamin B5 deficiency symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pains
  • Burning feet and tingling feet
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Upper respiratory infections.
  • Muscle cramps (legs)

The following conditions have been linked to vitamin B5 where some cases have shown signs of improvement with B5 supplementation:

  • Acne*
  • Alcoholism
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Celiac Disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Convulsions
  • Cystitis
  • Burning Feet Syndrome
  • Hair loss
  • Hair greying
  • Dandruff
  • Dizziness
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Heart Failure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Salicylate toxicity
  • Shingles
  • Skin disorders
  • Tongue infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Nerve pain
  • Neuralgia
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Wound healing

* Excessive amounts of biotin has also been linked to cystic acne which may be due to a deficiency or insufficient amounts of Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) as both these vitamins are required in correct amounts to work synergistically.


Toxicity symptoms of Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 toxicity is rare and usually caused by excessive intake of supplements rather than from food. The following are symptoms of excessive vitamin B5:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Heartburn
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Oedema
  • Calcification (blood vessels)
  • Increased risk of bleeding

Like most B vitamins, vitamin B5 is water soluble which the body will not store and any excess will simply be filtered through the kidneys and flushed through urinary tract.

Precautions and warnings

Although taking a dose of vitamin B5 equivalent to the RDA it is always important to check with your doctor before taking high doses of vitamin B5 supplements to see if it may interact with any medications you are taking which may cause problems.

Vitamin B5 from food is considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, however before taking vitamin B5 supplements it is recommended to seek the advice of your doctor or other health professional. Like all B vitamins vitamin B5 can make some antibiotics ineffective such as tetracycline antibiotic. Your doctor may advise you to take this at a different time away from antibiotic intake.

When taking any single B vitamin regularly it is important to take a B complex to avoid an imbalance of other essential B vitamins.

Excessively high doses of vitamin B5 increases the risk of bleeding and should be avoided when taking blood thinning drugs which includes Warfarin and Aspirin.

Vitamin B5 also interacts with Alzheimer’s drugs by increasing their effectiveness leading to severe side effects. These drugs are known as cholinesterase inhibitors which include Donepezil (Aricept), Galantamine (Reminyl), Memantine hydrochloride, (Ebixa) and Rivastigime (Exelon).