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.
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.
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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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)||1|
|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
Vitamin B5 is a busy B. Its roles in the body include:6
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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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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.
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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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
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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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.
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:
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.
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Last updated: 04 May 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.