The vitamin B-complex constitutes a set of 8 water-soluble vitamins that are essential to the human body for various metabolic functions, specifically cell metabolism. Each member of the vitamin B complex is denoted by a unique number and name. Vitamin B5 is known as pantothenic acid and is an important component in converting carbohydrates, proteins, and fat to energy and for ensuring proper red blood cell production.
The health benefits of vitamin B5 may include lowering cholesterol levels in the body, helping in healing of wounds, and healthy digestion process. The vitamin is also known to help in treating acne vulgaris and foot ulcers caused by diabetes. A deficiency in body levels of vitamin B5 can result in fatigues, vomiting, abdominal pain, sleeplessness, and burning feet. However, such a condition is very rare and is only observed in severely malnourished individuals.
Individuals with a rare genetic disorder affecting the brain, called pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN), which is associated with accumulation of iron in brain are at risk for inadequate vitamin B5 levels in the body. Other individuals at a higher risk for vitamin B5 deficiency include alcoholics and smokers, pregnant women, individuals under long-term stress, and those affected by certain intestinal disorders.
There is a wide range of foods that are sufficient natural sources of vitamin B5. However, it is important to note that conventional cooking, especially to high temperatures and storage for long periods may destroy or cause leaching of this vitamin into water. Also, a deficiency of other B vitamins, such as vitamins B7, B9, and B12, may disrupt metabolism of vitamin B5.
Following is a list of foods that are high in vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid:
- Meat such as beef, chicken, and turkey
- Fish that includes trout, salmon, and cod
- Fortified cereal grains
- Dairy products including milk, yogurt, cheese
- Sunflower seeds
- Potatoes including sweet potatoes
- Brown rice, whole wheat, and corn
- Leafy green vegetables including cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, and brussels sprout
- Certain types of mushrooms (such as shitake and crimini)
- Other fruits such as watermelon, oranges, strawberries, and figs
The Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academy of Sciences outlines the following recommendations for vitamin B5 intake. The adequate intake (AI) that may be necessary to meet the body’s nutritional need is as follows:
- 6 months and younger - 1.7 milligrams/day
- Between 7-12 months - 1.8 milligrams/day
- 12 months to 3 years - 2.0 milligrams/day
- From 4 to 8 years - 3.0 milligrams/day
- From 9 to 13 years - 4.0 milligrams/day
- Adolescents and adults:
- Between 14-18 years - 5.0 milligrams/day
- Over 19 years - 5.0 milligrams/day
- Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers - 6.0 and 7.0 milligrams/day respectively
It is evident from the list of various natural food sources of vitamin B5 that incorporating them into one’s daily diet is simple and beneficial. Currently, no toxicities from excess consumption of dietary vitamin B5 have been reported; however, the same does not hold true for vitamin supplements or medications. It is always recommended to take the advice of a suitable healthcare professional before bringing about any alteration to your regular food habits, such as incorporating more foods high in vitamin B5 and/or prior to taking any multivitamin supplements.