Vitamin B5, also called pantothenic acid, is one of eight B vitamins. It supports blood cell production and the conversion of food you eat into energy. Deficiency may lead to fatigue, headaches, and numbness in the hands and feet.

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

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

Life stage groupRecommended 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
Children and adults 14 years or older5 mg
People who are pregnant6 mg
People who are breastfeeding7 mg

Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare in the United States.

Generally, only people with severe malnutrition have a B5 deficiency. However, people with pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration two mutation may also experience deficiency.

People with a B5 deficiency often experience other vitamin deficiencies at the same time, which can make it difficult to single out the symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency. Symptoms may include:

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

The best way to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin B5 is to eat a nutritious, balanced diet daily.

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

Other sources of B5 include:

Some research from 2014 suggests that taking pantethine, a form of pantothenic acid, may reduce blood lipid levels when taken in large amounts alongside a heart-healthy diet. However, more research is needed to better understand the benefits.

Other research from 2011 suggests that taking pantethine and following a heart-healthy diet may help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (or bad cholesterol), and apolipoprotein B. More research is needed to determine whether or not there is a benefit to cholesterol in taking pantethine without also adopting diet changes

Vitamin B5 in the form of panthenol and dexpanthenol are approved for use in cosmetics by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dexpanthenol, a chemical made from pantothenic acid, is often added to hair and skin products, as well as makeup, and may help moisturize the skin.

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 may also help prevent and treat skin reactions from radiation therapy.

Dexpanthenol may help treat mild to moderate childhood atopic dermatitis as well as skin-related side effects of the acne medication isotretinoin. Some research suggests it may have a potential benefit in wound healing, though more research is needed.

Before using products containing vitamin B5 on the skin, or any new skin care product, it’s best to test on a small area, as some people may have reactions to them.

Taking large doses of vitamin B5 supplements may cause gastrointestinal side effects, including diarrhea.

Vitamin B5 is not likely to interact with medications.

What does pantothenic acid do for your body?

Pantothenic acid helps you make red blood cells and helps convert the food you eat, including protein, carbohydrates, and fats, into energy.

Who shouldn’t take pantothenic acid?

Most people do not need to supplement their diet with pantothenic acid, as it naturally occurs in many foods, including vegetables, eggs, grains, and meats. Taking too much pantothenic acid can cause diarrhea.

Is pantothenic acid good for weight loss?

Currently, there is not enough evidence in humans to suggest that pantothenic acid supplements benefit weight loss. However, eating a balanced, nutritious diet, which may also provide the recommended intake of pantothenic acid, may support weight loss.

What depletes vitamin B5?

Vitamin B5 is sensitive to heat, and boiling foods can reduce the amount of vitamin B5 by up to 67%.

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 experience vitamin B5 deficiency or require supplements.