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Vitamin B5

What You Need to Know About Vitamin B5

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Updated July 02, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Vitamin B5 is a vitamin often referred to as pantothenic acid. Found naturally in many foods, vitamin B5 is also available in supplement form. Proponents claim that taking vitamin B5 supplements offers a variety of health benefits.

Uses for Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is touted a natural remedy for a number of health conditions, including:

In addition, vitamin B5 is purported to boost the immune system and improve athletic performance.

Benefits of Vitamin B5

Research on the health benefits of vitamin B5 is fairly limited. For instance, there's currently a lack of scientific evidence to support the claims that vitamin B5 can reverse hair loss, support weight loss, and treat adrenal fatigue.

Here's a look at some key findings from the available research on vitamin B5's purported health benefits (note that two of the studies are over 15 years old):

1) Acne

Deficiency in vitamin B5 may lead to the development of acne, according to a 1995 report published in Medical Hypotheses. Although the report states that taking vitamin B5 supplements can cure acne, there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the effectiveness of pantothenic acid supplementation in treatment of acne.

2) Athletic Performance

Taking supplements containing vitamin B5 does not appear to improve athletic performance, according to a small study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2012. For the study, eight healthy male volunteers took either a placebo or a supplement containing 1.5 grams each of vitamin B5 and l-cysteine (an amino acid) every day for a week. Study results showed that the supplements failed to improve athletic performance (as measured by an experiment involving cycling).

3) Radiation Side Effects

Using creams containing vitamin B5 may not help treat skin reactions to radiation treatment, suggests a study published in Acta Oncologia in 1996. In tests on 86 patients undergoing radiation, researchers found that a pantothenic acid-based cream wasn't any more effective than not using topical ointment in treatment of skin reactions triggered by radiation therapy.

Food Sources of Vitamin B5

Food sources of vitamin B5 include:

  • yogurt (1.35 mg per cup)
  • chicken (.98 mg per 3 ounces)
  • milk (.83 mg per cup)
  • lentils (.63 mg per 1/2 cup)
  • eggs (.61 mg per large egg)
  • broccoli (.48 mg per 1/2 cup)
  • whole-wheat bread (.19 mg per slice)
  • tuna (.18 mg per 3 ounces)
  • cod (.15 mg per 3 ounces)

Signs of Vitamin B5 Deficiency

Vitamin B5 deficiency is very rare. While little is known about the health effects of not getting enough pantothenic acid, deficiency is thought to lead to fatigue, insomnia, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, and skin irritation.

Dosages for Vitamin B5

The recommended daily intake for vitamin B5 is 5 mg for people over age 14. The dosage for most dietary supplements containing vitamin B5 is 5 to 10 mg. According to the National Institutes of Health, taking more than 5 mg of vitamin B5 daily may increase risk of side effects like diarrhea.

Sources:

Leung LH. "Pantothenic acid deficiency as the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris." Med Hypotheses. 1995 Jun;44(6):490-2.

Løkkevik E, Skovlund E, Reitan JB, Hannisdal E, Tanum G. "Skin treatment with bepanthen cream versus no cream during radiotherapy--a randomized controlled trial." Acta Oncol. 1996;35(8):1021-6.

National Institutes of Health. " Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)." November 11, 2011.

Wall BT, Stephens FB, Marimuthu K, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Macdonald IA, Greenhaff PL. "Acute pantothenic acid and cysteine supplementation does not affect muscle coenzyme A content, fuel selection, or exercise performance in healthy humans." J Appl Physiol. 2012 Jan;112(2):272-8.

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