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What Does Vitamin B5 Do?

B5

What is vitamin B5?

Vitamin B5, also called pantothenic acid, is one of the most important vitamins for human life. It’s necessary for making blood cells, and it helps you convert the food you eat into energy.

Vitamin B5 is one of eight B vitamins. All B vitamins help you convert the protein, carbohydrates, and fats you eat into energy. B vitamins are also needed for:

  • healthy skin, hair, and eyes
  • proper functioning of the nervous system and liver
  • healthy digestive tract
  • making red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body
  • making sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands
Did You Know?
B5’s other name, pantothenic acid, comes from the ancient Greek word “pantothen,” which means “from everywhere.”

Sources of vitamin B5

The best way to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B5 is to eat a healthy, balanced diet every day.

Vitamin B5 is an easy vitamin to incorporate into a good diet. It’s found in most vegetables, including:

  • broccoli
  • members of the cabbage family
  • white and sweet potatoes
  • whole-grain cereals

Other healthy sources of B5 include:

  • mushrooms
  • nuts
  • beans
  • peas
  • lentils
  • meats
  • poultry
  • dairy products
  • eggs

How much vitamin B5 should you get?

As with most nutrients, the recommended intake of vitamin B5 varies by age. These are the recommended daily allowances set by the Institute of Medicine in the United States.

Life Stage GroupRecommended Daily Intake of Vitamin B5
Infants 6 months and younger1.7 mg
Infants 7 to 12 months1.8 mg
Children 1-3 years2 mg
Children 4-8 years3 mg
Children 9-13 years4 mg
14 years or older5 mg
Pregnant or breast-feeding women7 mg
 

It’s very rare to have a vitamin B5 deficiency in the United States. Generally, only people who are malnourished will have a B5 deficiency. According to the Mayo Clinic, a vitamin B5 deficiency is unlikely to cause any medical problems by itself. However, people with a B5 deficiency are often experiencing other vitamin deficiencies at the same time. Symptoms of a B5 deficiency are likely to include:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • impaired muscle coordination
  • gastrointestinal problems 

Symptoms generally go away once you start getting enough vitamin B5.

Use in medical conditions

People take vitamin B5 supplements and derivatives to help with a range of conditions. These conditions include:

  • acne
  • ADHD
  • alcoholism
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • baldness
  • burning feet syndrome
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • celiac disease
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • colitis
  • conjunctivitis
  • convulsions
  • cystitis
  • dandruff
  • depression
  • diabetic nerve pain
  • dizziness
  • enlarged prostate
  • headaches
  • heart failure
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • leg cramps
  • low blood pressure
  • low blood sugar
  • multiple sclerosis
  • muscular dystrophy
  • neuralgia
  • obesity
  • osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • respiratory disorders
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • salicylate toxicity
  • tongue infections
  • wound healing
  • yeast infections

While people take vitamin B5 for these conditions, there’s little evidence that it helps most of the conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. More scientific study is needed to determine its effectiveness.

Cosmetic uses of B5

Vitamin B5 is often added to hair and skin products, as well as makeup. Dexpanthenol, a chemical made from B5, is used in creams and lotions designed to moisturize the skin.

In hair products, B5 can help add volume and sheen. It’s also said to improve the texture of hair that is damaged by styling or chemicals. One study found that the application of a compound containing panthenol, a form of vitamin B5, could help stop thinning hair. However, it won’t make your hair grow back.

B5 chemicals

It can also be applied to the skin to relieve itchiness and promote healing from skin conditions, such as:

  • eczema
  • insect bites
  • poison ivy
  • diaper rash

Dexpanthenol has also been used to prevent and treat skin reactions from radiation therapy.

Researchers are also studying the chemical pantethine, a chemical made from vitamin B5, to see if it can lower cholesterol. One study reported that taking daily doses of pantethine for up to 16 weeks can lower LDL-C, or “bad” cholesterol. The study also found it can help lower the risk of coronary heart disease.

The takeaway

Vitamin B5 is an important vitamin that helps your body make blood cells and convert food into energy. As long as you eat a balanced and healthy diet that incorporates a variety of foods, it’s unlikely you’ll ever suffer from vitamin B5 deficiency or need to use supplements. 

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