Vitamin B5: Benefits, Sources, Deficiency

The discovery of Vitamin B5 came about when scientists were searching for a substance that would help yeasts to grow. This was quite different from the way the other vitamins in the B complex group were identified, all of which were the result of finding the cause of specific diseases. 

During the course of the research, it was found that animals’ diets not comprising Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, resulted in certain diseases in animals, which included anaemia, low production of antibodies, ulcers, retarded growth rate and abnormal offspring.

The discovery of pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) is credited to Roger J. Williams. The term finds its origin in the Greek pantos, which means everywhere, as it is easily found amongst all living cells. Pantothenic acid is required by all animals to synthesize coenzyme A (CoA). Its presence is also mandatory for synthesizing and metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Benefits of Vitamin B5

An adequate supply of pantothenic acid, or Vitamin B5, is essential for the body to convert food into the glucose that is needed for energy production. Energy generation is achievable when this vitamin breaks down fats, carbohydrates and proteins. 

It synthesizes cholesterol and facilitates the formation of red blood cells and sex and stress-related hormones.

Dietary intake of pantothenic acid ensures that metabolism functions properly to release energy. The presence of Vitamin B5 also ensures routine mental performance. For proper synthesis and metabolisms of steroid hormones, Vitamin D and few neurotransmitters, the presence of Vitamin 

B5 in the body is compulsory.

Vitamin B5 also reduces fatigue. 

Studies have revealed that Vitamin B5 supplements help to speed up the healing of wounds, especially after surgery. This is being researched further to establish its effectiveness. 

Vitamin B5 is also believed to help people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, though the results have not been very conclusive.

People with high blood fats can avail themselves of the benefits of using Vitamin B5 to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. Indeed, pantothenic acid plays a variety of roles in our bodies, and thus it is quite clear that its deficiency can lead to serious and wide-ranging problems.

Sources of Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid in small quantities is common in all food that is consumed by humans; however, the major source is meat and poultry, especially in the liver or kidneys. 

Vitamin B5 is also commonly found in legumes, cheese, milk and egg yolks. A vegetarian can consume broccoli, lentils, avocados, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds for sufficient intake of Vitamin B5.

We need to be careful, though, as pantothenic acids can easily be destroyed during food processing and heating.

Deficiencies of Vitamin B5

Though the deficiency of Vitamin B5 is a rarity, if a deficiency in this vitamin does occur, it can lead to far-reaching consequences. The symptoms include fatigue, vomiting, insomnia, stomach pains, depression, burning feet and upper respiratory infections.

Vitamin B5 plays a big role in sugar metabolism, so its deficiency can result in low blood sugar levels, a condition that results in hypoglycemia. Symptoms like restlessness, sleep disturbances and irritability are indications that suggest a low level of Vitamin B5.

Studies conducted on mice have revealed skin irritation and hair colour loss as a result of Vitamin B5 deficiency, but these results were not conclusive on humans. 

This inconclusive finding has nevertheless been exploited by the cosmetic industry; they cite this finding to market various products that include shampoos. Many cosmetic products are advertised as containing Vitamin B5 additives.

Alcoholics, smokers and women who are on contraceptive pills are at a greater risk of Vitamin B5 deficiency, as they suffer from high levels of stress.

Treatment and dosage

The simplest way to treat Vitamin B5 deficiency is by consuming a form of calcium pantothenate, which degenerates to pantothenic acid once inside the body. 

Another simple way would be to increase the number of fresh fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. This primarily decreases the chances of the development of Vitamin B5 deficiency in the body.

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