What is it?
Pantothenic acid is a vitamin, also known as vitamin B5. It is widely found in both plants and animals including meat, vegetables, cereal grains, legumes, eggs, and milk.
Vitamin B5 is commercially available as D-pantothenic acid, as well as dexpanthenol and calcium pantothenate, which are chemicals made in the lab from D-pantothenic acid.
Pantothenic acid is frequently used in combination with other B vitamins in vitamin B complex formulations. Vitamin B complex generally includes vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin/niacinamide), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), and folic acid. However, some products do not contain all of these ingredients and some may include others, such as biotin, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), choline bitartrate, and inositol.
Pantothenic acid has a long list of uses, although there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether it is effective for most of these uses. People take pantothenic acid for treating dietary deficiencies, acne, alcoholism, allergies, baldness, asthma, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, burning feet syndrome, yeast infections, heart failure, carpal tunnel syndrome, respiratory disorders, celiac disease, colitis, conjunctivitis, convulsions, and cystitis. It is also taken by mouth for dandruff, depression, diabetic nerve pain, enhancing immune function, improving athletic performance, tongue infections, gray hair, headache, hyperactivity, low blood sugar, trouble sleeping (insomnia), irritability, low blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, muscular cramps in the legs associated with pregnancy or alcoholism, neuralgia, and obesity.
Pantothenic acid is also used orally for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease, nerve pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), enlarged prostate, protection against mental and physical stress and anxiety, reducing adverse effects of thyroid therapy in congenital hypothyroidism, reducing signs of aging, reducing susceptibility to colds and other infections, retarded growth, shingles, skin disorders, stimulating adrenal glands, chronic fatigue syndrome, salicylate toxicity, streptomycin neurotoxicity, dizziness, and wound healing.
People apply dexpanthenol, which is made from pantothenic acid, to the skin for itching, promoting healing of mild eczemas and other skin conditions, insect stings, bites, poison ivy, diaper rash, and acne. It is also applied topically for preventing and treating skin reactions to radiation therapy.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for PANTOTHENIC ACID (VITAMIN B5) are as follows:
- Treating or preventing pantothenic acid deficiency.
Possibly ineffective for...
- Treating or preventing skin reactions from radiation therapy.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There is conflicting evidence regarding the usefulness of pantothenic acid in combination with large doses of other vitamins for the treatment of ADHD.
- Arthritis. Developing research suggests pantothenic acid (given as calcium pantothenate) does not significantly reduce the symptoms of arthritis in people with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or other forms of arthritis.
- Improving athletic performance. Some research suggests that pantothenic acid in combination with pantethine and thiamine does not improve muscular strength or endurance in well-trained athletes.
- Skin problems.
- Hair loss.
- Heart problems.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Lung disorders.
- Eye infections (conjunctivitis).
- Kidney disorders.
- Diabetic problems.
- Enhancing immune function.
- Low blood pressure.
- Inability to sleep (insomnia).
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Muscular dystrophy.
- Muscle cramps.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of pantothenic acid for these uses.
Pantothenic acid is important for our bodies to properly use carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids and for healthy skin.
Pantothenic acid is LIKELY SAFE for most people when used in appropriate amounts. The recommended amount for adults is 5 mg per day. Even larger amounts seem to be safe for some people, but taking larger amounts increases the chance of having side effects such as diarrhea.
Pantothenic acid seems to be safe for children when used appropriately.
Special precautions & warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Pantothenic acid is LIKELY SAFE when taken in recommended amounts of 6 mg per day during pregnancy and 7 mg per day during breast-feeding. But it is not known if taking more than this amount is safe.
Hemophila: Don’t take pantothenic acid if you have hemophila. It might extend the time it takes for bleeding to stop.
It is not known if this product interacts with any medicines.
Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.
Royal jelly contains significant amounts of pantothenic acid. The effects of taking royal jelly and pantothenic acid supplements together aren't known.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- As a dietary supplement: 5-10 mg of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).
Recommended daily intakes for pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) are as follows: Infants 0-6 months, 1.7 mg; infants 7-12 months, 1.8 mg; children 1-3 years, 2 mg; children 4-8 years, 3 mg; children 9-13 years, 4 mg; men and women 14 years and older, 5 mg; pregnant women, 6 mg; and breastfeeding women, 7 mg.
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To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).
To see all references for the Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/853.html.
- Plesofsky-Vig N. Pantothenic acid. In: Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 8th ed. Malvern, PA: Lea & Febiger, 1994.
- Anon. Calcium pantothenate in arthritic conditions. A report from the General Practitioner Research Group. Practitioner 1980;224:208-11.
- Webster MJ. Physiological and performance responses to supplementation with thiamin and pantothenic acid derivatives. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1998;77:486-91.
- Haslam RH, Dalby JT, Rademaker AW. Effects of megavitamin therapy on children with attention deficit disorders. Pediatrics 1984;74:103-11.
- Lokkevik E, Skovlund E, Reitan JB, et al. Skin treatment with bepanthen cream versus no cream during radiotherapy-a randomized, controlled trial. Acta Oncol 1996;35:1021-6.
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline . Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000. Available at: http://books.nap.edu/books/0309065542/html/.
- Debourdeau PM, Djezzar S, Estival JL, et al. Life-threatening eosinophilic pleuropericardial effusion related to vitamins B5 and H. Ann Pharmacother 2001;35:424-6.
- Brenner A. The effects of megadoses of selected B complex vitamins on children with hyperkinesis: controlled studies with long-term follow-up. J Learn Disabil 1982;15:258-64.
- Yates AA, Schlicker SA, Suitor CW. Dietary reference intakes: The new basis for recommendations for calcium and related nutrients, B vitamins, and choline. J Am Diet Assoc 1998;98:699-706.
- Kastrup EK. Drug Facts and Comparisons. 1998 ed. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, 1998.
Last reviewed - 12/26/2012
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