Vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid) is a water soluble vitamin which is part of the B complex group (eight vitamins which were initially all thought to be vitamin B). It was first noticed by R.J. Williams in 1933 as a growth factor in yeast. In 1939 Richard Kuhn isolated vitamin B5 but it got little attention till over 10 years later. In the 1950s scientists performed further research into the effect vitamin B5 had on humans by feeding volunteers a diet that was deficient in the vitamin. After a few weeks on the diet the volunteers complained that they felt weak and unwell. However, these symptoms went away once vitamin B5 was added back in to their diets. This research led scientists to conclude that vitamin B5 was essential in humans.
The main function of vitamin B5 (like the other B complex vitamins) is to help the body’s cells convert carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy. The other functions of vitamin B5 include:
– Assisting with the healing of wounds.
– Assisting with the production of red blood cells.
– Assisting with the treatment of arthritis.
– Reducing blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (which clogs the arteries of the heart) whilst increasing blood levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (which prevents hardening of the artery walls).
– Supporting the adrenal gland.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin B5 is 5mg in both men and women. It is found in all foods to some extent but some are much richer sources than others. Some of the better sources of vitamin B5 are fresh vegetables, eggs, salmon, wheat bran and yeast. Enriched whole grain products are also fortified with this vitamin.
Consuming too much or too little vitamin B5 is not a major problem. Not getting enough vitamin B5 can lead to heart problems, abdominal pain, disturbed sleep and muscle weakness. However, since the vitamin can be found in all foods, a dietary deficiency is very rare and has only occurred in experimental situations. Ingesting too much vitamin B5 has been linked with diarrhea but is not believed to be toxic.
Like other B complex vitamins, B5 plays a very important role in converting blood sugar into energy that your body’s cells can use. Without this important vitamin your body’s cells could not operate effectively. Thankfully, it is available in almost all foods so you should have no trouble meeting the RDA
Although you should try and get your vitamins from food where possible this is not always possible. Sometimes supplementation is required. In this case you should check out Vitabase who offer a fantastic selection of vitamin supplements at fantastic prices: