Vitamin B5

pantothenic acid

Vitamin B5 is an anti-stress vitamin and has a particular role in supporting the adrenal glands as they secrete cortisone and other hormones. These hormones enhance the metabolism generally, aiding the body to overcome allergies and maintain healthy skin, muscles and nerves. Vitamin B5 is thought to reduce skin wrinkles and may delay greyinB of the hair. Like so many other B-vitamins, it also helps to release energy from food.

Availability in food

Vitamin B5 is widely available in many foods, including pig's liver, fresh nuts, wheat germ, pulses and eggs. It ean be lost during food preparation, especially in dry heat cooking such as roasting, and during milling when more than 50 per cent of the vitamin B5 naturally occurring in wheat can be lost. It is destroyed when exposed to acids, such as vinegar, or alkalis, such as baking soda. Fortunately, the intestinal bacteria are capable of supplementing the diet with vitamin B5.

What if your intake is too low?

As vitamin B5 is widely available in both plant and animal foods severe, naturally occurring deficiency has not been observed and as yet no recommendation for minimum daily allowances have been made. However, when volunteers were fed a diet low in vitamin B5 they developed many symptoms, including fatigue, headache, dizziness, numbness and tingling, muscle weakness, mood swings, and digestive disturbances.

Mild symptoms of fatigue, digestive problems, frequent infections and worsening of any allergic conditions can develop when intake of vitamin B5 is relatively low, as it can in those who eat a 'fast-food' diet that includes a high proportion of refined sugar and flours.

Teenagers who are growing rapidly as well as eating this type of processed food are more likely to develop symptoms if they are also taking tetracycline antibiotics for acne. Antibiotics can alter the intestinal bacteria and limit their ability to synthesize extra supplies of vitamin B5 within the body.

When extra may be needed

  • When your lifestyle is very stressful
  • If you are prone to allergies • If your diet consists mostly of processed foods
  • If you regularly consume moderate or large amounts of alcohol
  • (Pregnant and breastJeeding women should consult a doctor, midwife, or qualified nutritional therapist bifore taking any vitamin or mineral supplements.)

    Can too much be toxic?

    Vitamin B5 does not appear to be toxic, but digestive disturbances, including diarrhoea, can result from very high doses of around 10g a day. Daily doses of 1,500mg taken over a long period of time can cause excessive sensitivity of the teeth.

    Using a supplement

    If you wish to take a supplement, vitamin B5 is best taken as part of a balanced B-vitamin tablet or capsule, unless your doctor or nutFitional health practitioner advises otherwise.