Vitamin B5, aka pantothenic acid, is one of the most commonly found vitamins and small traces of vitamin B5 are found in every type of food. It is also one of the most important nutrients because pantothenic acid is required to synthesize proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Although pantothenic acid is found in almost all foods included in a normal diet, meat and whole grains are rich sources of this vitamin. But this is found on the outer layers of grains and milling often removes the layer hence resulting in loss of the vitamin.
Some of the major functions of Vitamin B5 are:
- instrumental in creation of lipids & neurotransmitters
- helps in secretion of various hormones, like cortisone, by supporting the adrenal glands
- creates the steroid hormones ~ progesterone, aldosterone, testosterone, estradiol, cortisol
Some studies show that the vitamin also fights wrinkles and delays the graying of hair. There are also reports that this acid assists in quick healing of wounds and gashes.
Pantothenic acid deficiency is not very common due to the abundance of panthothenic acid in nature. Panthothenic acid deficiency occurs mainly in extreme cases like starvation during natural disasters. The symptoms of the deficiency of Vitamin B5 can be enumerated as follows:
- muscle cramps
- cardiac instability
- personality changes
- weakened immune system
- increased sensitivity to insulin
- biochemical changes ~ decreased blood cholesterol, reduced serum potassium
Although cases of pantothenic acid deficiency are very rare, the few cases of deficiency have been very effectively treated with returning the body level of pantothenic acid to normal.
The level of vitamin B5 in the body can be normalized by including foods rich in the acid in our diet, like meat and whole grains, or by taking multi vitamin supplements like pantothenol and pantothenate.
But one must be careful about the dosage of these supplements. There have been more cases of problems arising due to overdose of the acid as compared to those caused by pantothenic acid deficiency. Some of the problems arising out of taking large doses of the vitamins are as follows:
- can cause diarrhea and other digestive disorders
- water retention issues have been reported where the dose is above 10g/day
Taking high doses of the vitamin for a long period of time results in the weakening of gums and tooth sensitivity.
If you are often stressed, prone to allergies or consume too much alcohol, then you should increase your intake of pantothenic acid. Also one must be careful about the way the food is cooked and cleaned because you may remove most of the vitamin B5 from your food.