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Vitamin B5 Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms & Health Risks

The information provided herein does not constitute an expert or medical advice, nor intended to replace such advice.

Health and Wellness

Vitamin B5, which is also known as pantothenic acid, is a type of water-soluble vitamin that’s part of the group of B vitamins. Your body can’t produce vitamin B5 on its own, but it needs it to survive. Therefore, B5 is known as an essential nutrient.

Low levels of vitamin B5 are extremely uncommon, and they usually only present alongside other vitamin deficiencies. Keep reading to learn more about B5 deficiency.

Function of pantothenic acid

Vitamin B5 acts as a precursor to a substance called coenzyme A or CoA, which is a cofactor in many enzymatic processes in the human body.

Pantothenic acid functions include aiding in the breakdown of fatty acids, production of red blood cells, and many other catabolic and anabolic processes in your organism.

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The benefits of vitamin B have been studied for patients who suffer from high cholesterol, also known as hypercholesterolemia. Having low levels of vitamin B5 and CoA may contribute to a healthy clearance of fatty acids in the blood.

It has also been theorized that vitamin B5 may have antioxidant properties that help regulate inflammation throughout the body. Chronic inflammation is a factor that contributes to the development of many diseases.

According to Oregon State University, coenzyme A is also involved in many processes, including:

  • Synthesis of cholesterol, steroid hormones, and essential fats

  • Production of melatonin

  • Metabolism of citric acid, vitamins A and D, and hemoglobin

  • Liver metabolism of certain drugs and toxins

  • Energy generation from dietary carbohydrates, fats, and proteins

B5 deficiency causes

Because there are many foods that contain B5, B5 deficiency isn’t frequent in developed countries. In fact, measuring B5 blood levels isn’t a routine practice in people who are healthy. However, diseases that cause severe malnutrition and intestinal malabsorption can lead to low B5 levels. Most cases of vitamin B5 deficiencies can be found in people who have other nutritional deficits, as well.

B5 deficiency symptoms

According to the National Institutes of Health, pantothenic acid deficiency symptoms can include:

  • Numbness and burning of hands and feet

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Headache

  • Restlessness

  • Sleep problems

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

  • Anorexia or low appetite

Long term vitamin B5 inadequacy health risks

There are also cases of rare genetic mutations that prevent your body from metabolizing B5 correctly. One of these mutations is called a pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration 2 mutation. Mutations in the pantothenate kinase 2 (PANK2) gene cause a rare congenital disorder which is called pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN). 

Having significant PANK2 mutations lead to the reduction of the activity of an enzyme which is necessary to turn vitamin B5 to CoA. This can lead to low CoA levels, which can cause a wide range of manifestations, including:

  • Muscle dystonia

  • Spasticity

  • Pigmentary retinopathy

  • Significant disability

  • Loss of function

Preliminary studies have suggested that B5 plays a role in keeping your skin hydrated and healthy. Research has found that topical B5 helps heal scars and wounds, especially when it’s combined with vitamin C. However, more research is still needed on this topic.

B5 food sources

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, vitamin B5 sources can be found in practically all animal and plant based foods. However, the amounts of the vitamin contained in different B5 sources can vary widely, which is why it’s important to learn about the best dietary sources of B5 so you can keep up your daily intake.

Foods high in pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 include:

  • Beef

  • Chicken breast

  • Liver

  • Kidney

  • Tuna

  • Dairy products

  • Eggs

  • Fortified cereals and breads

  • Mushrooms

  • Avocados

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Brown rice

  • Potatoes

  • Oatmeal

  • Broccoli

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How much vitamin B5 do I need per day?

According to Mount Sinai, there isn’t a formal Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for B5, simply because this nutrient is present in practically everything we eat, so it would be difficult to determine its optimal intake level.

However, there are recommended adequate intakes of B5, which are as follows:

  • Infants birth - 6 months: 1.7 mg

  • Infants 7 months - 1 year: 1.8 mg

  • Children 1 - 3 years: 2 mg

  • Children 4 - 8 years: 3 mg

  • Children 9 - 13 years: 4 mg

  • Teens 14 - 18 years: 5 mg

  • 19 years and older: 5 mg

  • Pregnant women: 6 mg

  • Breastfeeding women: 7 mg

Different types of tests can be used to measure B5 level in patients who show signs of deficiency, including:

  • Microbiologic growth assays

  • Animal bioassays

  • Radioimmunoassays

However, these are all specialized lab exams that aren’t used often in clinical settings. Instead, B5 serum or urinary concentration are the most commonly used tests to diagnose B5 deficiency. You can learn more about different vitamin at-home tests at STDWatch.com.

Pantothenic acid toxicity

Developing a pantothenic acid overdose would be very unlikely, especially from natural food sources. Pantothenic acid toxicity from food hasn’t been recorded, and a Tolerable Upper Intake Level for this nutrient hasn’t been established.

Taking extremely high doses of B5 — approximately 10 grams a day — could lead to stomach upset and other gastrointestinal symptoms. However, this is extremely uncommon.


Pantothenic Acid - lpi.oregonstate.edu

Pantothenic Acid - ods.od.nih.gov

Pantothenic Acid – Vitamin B5 - hsph.harvard.edu

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) - mountsinai.org

Dr. Andrea Pinto Lopez

Dr. Andrea Pinto Lopez

Feb 11, 2023

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