Pantothenic Acid: What Is It?

Pantothenic acid

 

Pantothenic acid is also known as vitamin B-5, and it may be one of the most crucial of all the B vitamins. This water-soluble vitamin is easily dissolved in water for quick use within cells and tissues; but because it is water-soluble, like all the B vitamins, your body does not store any of it for future use. This means that all the pantothenic acid you get must come from dietary sources.

The fact that pantothenic acid is found in so many different types of foods probably accounts for the name this vitamin was given: in Greek, pantothen translates to “on all sides” or “from all quarters.” This universality means that if you are eating a balanced diet, chances are very good that you are getting all the pantothenic acid that you need.

What Pantothenic Acid Does for Your Body

Pantothenic acid contributes to some of the most vital chemical actions in the body. Without pantothenic acid, you would not be able to make coenzyme A (CoA) in order to metabolize fats, proteins, or carbohydrates into energy.

CoA is also used to build cholesterol, and cholesterol is needed for hormone production. Without CoA, you could not survive, so getting enough pantothenic acid (along with all the eight B vitamins together) is crucial to your wellbeing.

According to some smaller studies, pantothenic acid may help lower triglycerides in your blood if you have high LDL cholesterol levels. In addition, pantothenic acid may also assist in skin wound healing and in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, though the evidence for this is weak.

Where Do You Get Pantothenic Acid?

Pantothenic acid is found in just about every type of whole, natural food. You can find it in mushrooms, vegetables, fruit, dairy, fish, fowl, and whole grains. A well-balanced diet will give you more than enough pantothenic acid for your daily needs. As there are no known risks of dietary toxins from consuming well above the recommended daily intake of pantothenic acid, you also don’t have to worry about getting too much of the vitamin.

More good news is that pantothenic acid is not much affected by cooking, meaning that you can be confident that you’re getting enough of this vitamin even when drinking pasteurized milk and eating cooked vegetables.

It is incredibly unusual for people in the United States to be deficient in pantothenic acid. A pantothenic acid deficiency normally only occurs in situations of extreme malnutrition, and the abundance of food in the West means that malnutrition would be an extraordinary circumstance.

Supplementing with Pantothenic Acid

Because pantothenic acid has been found to have no Tolerable Upper Level Intake, you don’t have to worry about getting too much. Taking massive doses of panthothenic acid as a supplement on its own may produce some mild intestinal distress and diarrhea, but you would need to be ingesting at least 10 grams per day for that to happen.

Supplementing with pantothenic acid may help maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels as well as bolster overall energy levels. However, if you are eating a balanced diet rich in whole foods and taking a good quality B complex, you will probably not find the need to supplement with pantothenic acid by itself.

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