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Your guide to vitamin B5

Woman holding face and smiling looking happy
Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid is essential for making blood cells and converting food into energy. Find out more about its benefits and sources.

We tend to group all the B vitamins together, but each one has several different roles in the body. Discover why everybody needs vitamin B5.

What is vitamin B5?

Like the seven other B vitamins, B5 – also known as pantothenic acid – helps your body convert the carbohydrates you eat into glucose for energy.

B vitamins help your body process fats and proteins, and are needed to help keep your nervous system, skin, hair, eyes and liver in a healthy condition too.1 But there are some specific benefits of vitamin B5 that you should be aware of.

What is pantothenic acid?

Pantothenic acid is just another name for vitamin B5.

It comes from the Greek root pantos which means ‘everywhere’ due to vitamin B5 being available in a wide variety of different foods.2

Despite it being ‘everywhere’ you should keep in mind that vitamin B5 is often lost during food processing. Fresh vegetables, meats and whole unprocessed grains will usually have a lot more vitamin B5 than processed, refined and canned foods.

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Where to find vitamin B5

As mentioned above he name ‘pantothenic’ means ‘everywhere’ in the Greek language, as it’s found in so many different foods, so a vitamin B5 deficiency is highly unlikely.3

Keep your levels topped up with foods like:4

Food Milligrams (mg) per serving
Beef liver (85g) 8.3
Adequately fortified breakfast cereals 5
Shitake mushrooms (cooked, 75g) 2.6
Sunflower seeds (32g) 2.4
Chicken breast (roasted, skinless, 85g) 1.3
Fresh tuna (cooked, 75g) 1.2
Avocados (raw, ½ avocado)
Broccoli (boiled, 71g) 1
Semi-skimmed milk (250ml) 0.9
White mushrooms (stir fried, 75g) 0.8
Oats (cooked with water, 80g) 0.8
Potatoes (flesh and skin baked, 1 medium) 0.7
Egg (hard-boiled, 1 large) 0.7
Greek yoghurt (vanilla, nonfat, 150ml) 0.6
Ground beef (85% lean meat, broiled, 85g) 0.6
Wholewheat pitta (1 large) 0.5
Chickpeas (canned, 85g) 0.4
Rice (brown, cooked, 125g) 0.4
Cheddar cheese (43g) 0.2
Carrots (chopped, raw, 45g) 0.2

 

Remember that processing foods – like canning and freezing – destroys B5, so try to keep your diet as fresh as possible.

It’s also worth considering that limited data indicated that the body absorbs 40-60% of pantothenic acid from foods.5

Summary

  • Vitamin B5 and pantothenic acid are both the same nutrient
  • You can find vitamin B5 in lots of foods including meat, dairy, wholegrains, avocados and some other vegetables

What does vitamin B5 do?

Vitamin B5 is a busy B. Its roles in the body include:6

  1. Making red blood cells
  2. Creating coenzyme A (CoA) which help produce and degrade fatty acids
  3. Synthesising cholesterol
  4. Producing sex and stress hormones
  5. Helping the body use other vitamins, especially vitamin B2
  6. Maintaining a healthy digestive system

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5 other benefits of vitamin B5

  1. It can counter high cholesterol

Our body needs vitamin B5 to metabolise cholesterol, but B5 could also help lower levels of LDL, or ‘bad’, cholesterol in the blood.

One Canadian-led study published in the journal Vascular Health and Risk Management in 2014 found that when people with high levels of LDL cholesterol were given 300mg of vitamin B5 every day over 16 weeks, their levels dropped significantly.7

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  1. Vitamin B5 for skin

You may have seen vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid on the back of your skin creams or makeup. Look out for Dexpanthenol too, this is a chemical made from vitamin B5. It’s often used in skin lotions and creams designed to moisturise the skin.

  1. Vitamin B5 for acne

Research suggests that consuming vitamin B5 for acne could be a viable option for this skin conditon.

In 2014, US researchers discovered that people with acne taking 2.2g of B5 every day for 12 weeks reported fewer spots and improved skin quality. The team say this may be for two reasons – pantothenic acid has both antibacterial and skin-softening activities.8

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  1. Supports healthy hair

Vitamin B5 is commonly added into hair products to help keep it shiny and full bodied. It is also said to help improve the texture of hair that has been physically damaged or chemically damaged. https://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/panthenol.9

  1. Could it delay the grey?

Vitamin B5 is rumoured to help prevent grey hairs, based on one laboratory study in 2007 that found a deficiency could lead to premature greying.10 But sadly there isn’t enough evidence to show upping your intake of B5 can really make a difference to restoring your hair to its former (crowning) glory.

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Summary

  • Vitamin B5 helps with multiple body functions like making red blood cells and fatty acids
  • Pantothenic acid could help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • It could also support hair and skin health

Do I need to take vitamin B5 supplements?

You should get all the vitamin B5 you need from a healthy balanced diet. However, some people choose to supplement B5 to help with some of the factors above, like those with high cholesterol.

You may be told to supplement if you are deficient in vitamin B5, but this is very rare.

Signs that you are deficient in vitamin B5

Developing a vitamin B5 deficiency is very rare, except in people with other nutrient deficiencies and those who are malnourished.

Other rare cases have occurred in people with genetic mutations that don’t allow vitamin B5 metabolisation.11

Symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Numbness or burning sensation in feet or hands
  • Muscle cramps

How much vitamin B5 should you get a day?

In the UK, there is currently no set amount of pantothenic acid you need to take in a day.

The NHS states that you should be able to get the pantothenic acid from your daily diet, but you do need it in your diet every day as it cannot be stored in the body.12

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.

Shop our Vitamins & Supplements range.

Summary

  • Vitamin b5 deficiency is rare and it can be found in many foods so there isn’t usually a need to supplement it
  • There is no set amount of pantothenic acid you need in a day

The final say on vitamin B5

  • Vitamin B5 is a nutrient that helps keep us in overall good health
  • Its functions include making red blood cells and fatty acids in the body
  • You can find it in many foods, so you shouldn’t need to supplement, unless you are deficient
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 04 May 2021

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