Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is one of the eight B vitamins, each vital for maintaining overall health. Your body uses vitamin B5 to produce healthy red blood cells, to build several important hormones, and to process carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy.
B5 also supports healthy skin and hair, and is often added to skincare and hair products.
Vitamin B5 Benefits
Pantothenic acid (B5) helps support the proper function of the nervous system, the digestive system, and the production of red blood cells needed to deliver oxygen throughout your body. Vitamin B5 and its derivatives are often added to beauty products to improve hair and skin health.
One great benefit of B5 is that it’s very easy to find in a balanced diet! Vitamin B5 is readily available in a variety of foods and supplements, making it unlikely that most people will experience a B5 deficiency.
Aids in Digestive System
Much of the benefits of vitamin B5 can be traced to its role in producing a molecule called Coenzyme A. This molecule plays a crucial part in turning carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy. It’s also necessary for the production of vitamins A and D, and numerous other processes in the body.
Vitamin B5 Benefits for Skin
Many skincare products use B5 as panthenol, sometimes combined with hyaluronic acid, as a moisturizer. B5 acts as both a humectant and an emollient, two fancy skincare words for compounds that retain moisture and soothe the skin.
Another B5 compound, dexpanthenol, is useful as a topical treatment to calm itchiness from bug bites, eczema, or diaper rash.
Manufacturers are well aware of its benefits, so there’s a good chance vitamin B5 is already a part of your skincare routine!
Vitamin B5 for Hair
Vitamin B5 as pantothenic acid or panthenol is commonly added to shampoos and other hair products. Because of its moisturizing abilities, it can improve the texture and appearance of hair, especially hair already damaged by heat or chemical treatment.
Many of these products claim to promote “fuller” hair, and they may actually be correct! While vitamin B5 cannot reverse hair loss, this study found that a treatment including panthenol was able to thicken and strengthen individual hairs, which is promising as an approach to thinning hair.
B5 May Help Lower Cholesterol
Studies have shown that the body uses vitamin B5 to metabolize cholesterol, and may be associated with lowering overall cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. With this information, researchers are beginning to look into the use of B5 compounds to treat hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).
Vitamin B5 Aids in Energy and Mood Levels
Vitamin B5 is literally necessary for your body to produce and use energy. Your metabolism uses the B5 product coenzyme A to turn carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into usable energy.
The same coenzyme A helps to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which uses this energy to communicate signals between your brain cells, and nerves throughout your body. Without this vital neurotransmitter, proper mental function and mobility would be impossible.
Coenzyme A has hundreds of jobs within the body but further affects energy and mood by producing heme, a component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through your blood to power your cells. It’s also necessary to form melatonin, an essential hormone for regulating sleep.
Is Vitamin B5 Good for Adrenals?
Vitamin B-5 is a key player in adrenal hormone production, and a vital ingredient in our Adrenal Support formula. Pantothenic acid supports the health and function of your adrenal glands, which are especially important when it comes to helping your body manage stress. Healthy levels of pantothenic acid help your adrenal glands produce essential stress-response hormones such as cortisol, and ensure they don’t produce too much. Without support from vitamin B5, your adrenal glands can really struggle with the effects of chronic stress.
Vitamin B5 Sources
The name “pantothenic acid” comes from the Greek root pantos, meaning “everywhere.” Because pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is necessary for all living cells, it’s found in nearly every food source. While the majority of B5 comes from your diet, even bacteria in your digestive tract can produce this vitamin!
Vitamin B5 is water-soluble, so any extra amount that your body can’t use is passed through to your urine, not stored in the body. This means that our bodies need a constant dietary source to maintain B5 levels.
Vitamin B5 Foods
Some amount of vitamin B5 is found in practically every plant or animal food source. Food especially rich in B5 include:
- meat, especially organ meat
- whole grains
- sweet potato
Vitamin B5 Supplements
While a balanced diet can meet most B5 needs, research shows that some bodies, including women using oral contraceptives, may benefit from supplementation. Vitamin B5 is available as a single supplement, or as part of a B-complex containing a balance of different B vitamins.
Together, the B vitamins cover a wide range of functions in the body, from energy to immunity, to hormone health. Depending on your goals, I offer a range of supplements containing vitamin B5 as pantothenic acid.
- Dr. Brighten B-Active Plus is a vitamin B combination supplement that provides a balanced dose of B vitamins in their bioactive form.
- Dr. Brighten Women’s Twice Daily is a specially formulated multivitamin supplement designed to support the needs of women who are no longer menstruating or who struggle with iron metabolism.
- Dr. Brighten Prenatal Plus is the ideal formula for pregnant, lactating, or menstruating women, and women wishing to become pregnant.
- Dr. Brighten Adrenal Support includes adaptogenic herbs and nutrients to support optimal adrenal health and energy levels.
- Dr. Brighten Adrenal Calm supports stress reduction with adaptogenic herbs and B vitamins to improve sleep and balance cortisol.
No need to worry about getting too much vitamin B5 if you’re taking more than one formula to address multiple concerns. You excrete excess B5 through urine.
Vitamin B5 Deficiency
Because vitamin B5 is found in such a wide range of foods, deficiencies are very rare outside of severe malnutrition, which would point to multiple other nutrient deficiencies. Most of what we know of B5 deficiencies come from induced laboratory studies and point to symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and tingling of the hands and feet.
It’s important to understand that while deficiencies of most nutrients are rare in developed nations, this doesn’t mean everyone is getting their optimal levels. Make sure you’re including the foods listed above in your diet. Here’s a free recipe guide and meal plan to help you get started.
Side Effects and Precautions of Vitamin B5
Because B5 is water-soluble, there is little risk of toxicity from high levels. Any B5 not used by the body will be excreted in your urine.
While few known drug interactions exist, supplementing B5 may change the effectiveness of certain drugs like Tetracycline, blood thinners, or cholinesterase inhibitors used in some Alzheimer’s treatments. I always recommend checking with your doctor before introducing any new supplements, especially when taking other medications.
With such a wide range of roles in every cell in the body, vitamin B5 is essential for life to function. B5 is best known for supporting healthy skin and hair, but also benefits the digestive system, energy, and cholesterol balance.
This B vitamin can be found in nearly every plant and animal food source, as well as supplements and B complex multivitamins. A B5 deficiency is quite rare, but could include headaches, fatigue, and tingling hands and feet.
Want to learn more about a balanced diet to support your health and hormone levels? Download my Hormone Balancing Starter Kit, and receive hormone-supporting recipes, an E-book, articles, and more!
To learn more about the benefits of different B vitamins, check out these articles:
- Vitamin B6 Benefits for Women
- Biotin—The Importance of Vitamin B7
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency Impacts More Than Just Energy
- Linus Pauling Institute. Pantothenic acid.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. Dexpanthenol. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 131204.
- Heise R, Skazik C, Marquardt Y, et al. Dexpanthenol modulates gene expression in skin wound healing in vivo. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2012. 25. 241-248.
- Yang M, Moclair B, Hatcher V, 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. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2014. 4. 93-101.
- Panthenol. Cosmetics Info.
- Davis MG, Thomas JH, van de Velde S, et al. A novel cosmetic approach to treat thinning hair. Br J Dermatol. 2011. 3. 24-30.
- Chen Y, Zhao S, Zhao Y. Efficacy and tolerability of coenzyme A vs pantethine for the treatment of patients with hyperlipidemia: A randomized, double-blind, multicenter study. Journal of Clinical Lipidology. 2015. 9. 692-697.
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Office of dietary supplements - pantothenic acid.
- Lewis CM, King JC. Effect of oral contraceptives agents on thiamin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid status in young women. Am J Clin Nutr. 1980. 33. 832-838.
- Vitamin B5: Everything you need to know. Medical News Today.