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Vitamin B5: function, foods, deficiency and supplements

23 Nov 2022 • 1 min read

Find out all about vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), including what it does, how much you need, where to find it and who might need to supplement their diet


What is vitamin B5 and what does it do?

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is part of the B-vitamin family. All the B vits help your body break down your food for energy but B5 has some specific roles, including production of cholesterol and steroid hormones.1 Pantothenic acid, like all B vitamins, is water-soluble so we need to consume enough of it every day to keep our levels topped up. You can find vitamin B5 in foods such as chicken, beef, porridge and wholegrain foods.2 A vitamin B5 deficiency is rare, because it is found in almost all meats and vegetables.

Function of vitamin B5

What does vitamin B5 do in the body?

Like all the B vitamins, pantothenic acid helps your body process fats and proteins. It’s also needed for:3
  • maintaining healthy mental performance
  • reducing tiredness and fatigue
  • production of steroid hormones
  • processing vitamin D
  • helping produce some neurotransmitters
 Pantothenic acid cannot be stored in the body, so you need to make sure you get enough in your daily diet.

How much vitamin B5 do I need?

There is currently no reference nutrient intake (RNI) for vitamin B5 as most people get enough from their food.4

Do children need vitamin B5?

If your child is eating a healthy, balanced diet, they should be getting all the vitamin B5 they need, every day.

Vitamin B5 foods

Which foods are the best sources of vitamin B5?

The name ‘pantothenic’ comes from the Greek word ‘pantou’ that means ‘everywhere’, as B5 is found in such a wide range of foods.5 The best animal-based sources of vitamin B5 include: 6
  • chicken
  • beef
  • kidney
  • eggs
  • dairy products
The best plant-based sources of vitamin B5 include:
  • mushrooms
  • avocado
  • lentils
  • kale
  • wholegrain cereals
Vitamin B5 can be destroyed during the cooking process, so try to use fresh produce and steam or grill your meals to help preserve the vitamin content.7

Vitamin B5 deficiency

What are the symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency?

It’s incredibly rare for someone to get a B5 deficiency, as it’s found in so many different foods.

What happens if I consume too much vitamin B5?

The EU Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General says there’s not enough evidence to know what the effects of taking high daily doses of pantothenic acid might be.8 However, the NHS says taking 200mg or less a day of vitamin B5 is unlikely to cause any harm.9

Vitamin B5 supplements

When should I take vitamin B5 supplement?

You do not need to take a vitamin B5 supplement if you are eating a balanced diet including plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, protein and wholegrain foods.

Should children take a vitamin B5 supplement?

Like adults, children eating a balanced diet should get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their food.

Should women take a vitamin B5 supplement during pregnancy?

If you’re worried you may not be getting enough vitamin B5 from your diet to support you and your unborn baby, talk to your GP. You should not take any supplements while pregnant without proper advice from a health or qualified nutrition professional.

What are the potential benefits of taking vitamin B5 supplements?

One 2014 Canadian-led study found that when people with high levels of LDL cholesterol were given 300mg of vitamin B5 every day over 16 weeks, their levels of this ‘bad’ cholesterol dropped significantly.10 Pantothenic acid has been found to help your skin recover from acne. 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 – vitamin B5 has both antibacterial and skin-softening activities, but that more research is needed.11 Shop Vitamins Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies. By Rosalind Ryan on December 7, 2018 Reviewed by dietitian and nutritionist Azmina Govindji on December 14, 2018 Sources 1. Medical News Today. Vitamin B5: Everything you need to know. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219601.php 2. NHS. B vitamins and folic acid. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b/ 3. European Commission. EU Register on nutrition and health claims. Available from: http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/register/public/?event=search 4. As Source 2 5. As Source 1 6. As Sources 1 and 2 7. Piriya Mahendra Pordes. Netdoctor. Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Available from: https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-eating/a10925/vitamin-b5-pantothenic-acid/ 8. EU Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General. Discussion Paper on the setting of maximum and minimum amounts for vitamins and minerals in foodstuffs. Available from: https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/labelling_nutrition-vitamins_minerals-discus_paper_amount_vitamins_en.pdf 9. As Source 2 10. Evans M, et al. Pantethine, a derivative of vitamin B5, favorably alters total, LDL and non-HDL cholesterol in low to moderate cardiovascular risk subjects eligible for statin therapy: a triple-blinded placebo and diet-controlled investigation. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24600231 11. Yang M, et al. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of a Novel Pantothenic Acid-Based Dietary Supplement in Subjects with Mild to Moderate Facial Acne. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4065280/
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