Pantothenic Acid

Other Name(s):

vitamin B-5, chick antidermatitis factor (archaic), pantothenyl alcohol

General Description:

Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that belongs to the B group of vitamins. Like the other B vitamins, pantothenic acid plays a role in energy production. It is also essential in the production of fatty acids and important hormones, and helps maintain the health of muscles and the digestive system.

Pantothenic acid is an essential component of coenzyme A, which functions in the metabolism of fatty acids, triglycerides and cholesterol. Pantothenic acid plays a role in the synthesis of adrenocortical hormones (cortisone and its intermediates), hemoglobin and myoglobin (a chemical in the muscles similar to hemoglobin in the blood).

Medically Valid Uses:

Pantothenic acid is used to treat pantothenic acid deficiency. Pantothenic acid deficiency is extremely rare in any but the most impoverished societies and is generally associated with severe nutritional deficiencies such as Kwashiorkor or marasmus. It has also been used in the treatment of paralytic ileus (a condition in which peristalsis is stopped) and diabetic neuropathy (patches of abnormality in the skin associated with nerve damage caused by diabetes).

Unsubstantiated Claims:

Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

Pantothenic acid is claimed to enhance athletic performance and hasten wound healing.

Recommended Intake:

As indicated below, pantothenic acid is measured in milligrams. No Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) has been established for this vitamin. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is listed below.




5 mg

Pregnant women

6 mg

Breast-feeding women

7 mg


Food source

Nutrient content per 100 grams

Dried yeast

9.5 mg

Beef liver

7.3 mg

Chicken liver

4.1 mg

Peanut butter

2.5 mg


2.1 mg


1.7 mg


1.3 mg


0.3 mg

Pantothenic acid is unstable in heat and therefore needs to be refrigerated. Cooking can destroy up to 15 to 75 percent of the vitamin, depending on the food source and length of cooking time.

Although the majority of foods are neutral, pantothenic acid degrades rapidly in both acidic and alkaline foods. However, there are few foods alkaline enough to cause significant degradation.

There is an increased need for pantothenic acid during prolonged periods of stress, extreme athletic activity or demanding physical work.

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding may need to take vitamin supplements, but must consult a physician before doing so.

Because pantothenic acid is abundant in many food sources, even poor diets generally contain sufficient amounts to prevent deficiency.

Mild deficiencies have been produced in humans experimentally (the experiments were not carried on long enough to harm the subjects). Symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, insomnia, abdominal pain (upper abdomen), nausea, sensory changes in the arms and legs, and muscle spasms.

Side Effects, Toxicity and Interactions:

There are no known side effects of too much pantothenic acid. Excess pantothenic acid is excreted in the urine.

There are no significant food or drug interactions associated with pantothenic acid.

Additional Information:

Click here for a list of reputable Web sites with general information on nutrition.


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  2. Claus EP, Tyler VE Jr. Pharmacognosy. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Febiger; 1965.

  3. Behrman RE, Kliegman RM, Nelson EE, Vaughan VC, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Co.; 1992.

  4. Braunwald E, Isselbacher KJ, Petersdorf RG, Wilson JD, Martin JB, Fauci AS, eds. Harrison's Principals of Internal Medicine. 11th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1987.

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  8. Loeb S, Cahill M, et al., eds. Diagnostic Tests (Nurse's Ready Reference). Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corporation; 1991.

  9. Calcium Pantothenate. Facts and Comparisons. St Louis, MO: Facts & Comparisons; 1991.

  10. Bender DA. Optimum nutrition: thiamin, biotin and pantothenate. Proc Nutr Soc. 1999;58(2):427-33.

  11. Weimann BI, Hermann D. Studies on wound healing: effects of calcium D-pantothenate on the migration, proliferation and protein synthesis of human dermal fibroblasts in culture. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 199969(2):113-9.

  12. Webster MJ. Physiological and performance responses to supplementation with thiamin and pantothenic acid derivatives. Eur J Appl Physiol. 1998;77(6):486-91.

  13. Tahiliani AG, Beinlich CJ. Pantothenic acid in health and disease. Vitamins and Hormones. 1991;46:165-228.

  14. Annous KF, Song WO. Pantothenic acid uptake and metabolism by the red blood cell. J. Nutr. 1995;125:2586-2593.

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