Vitamin B5, aka Pantothenic Acid, is the ultimate energy metabolism vitamin. It’s not because vitamin B5 participates in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins (other B vitamins can do this, too). However, it’s the only B vitamin that directly takes place in the synthesis of Coenzyme A (CoA) which is the key to all types of energy metabolism. When I write the blog about how our bodies get the energy needed for physical activities (exercise), I’ll talk more about CoA. For now, it’s important to know that Pantothenic acid is directly related to CoA formation.
The best source of vitamin B5 is Shiitake mushrooms. I’m not a picky eater. I am actually on “seafood diet” as in I eat food whenever I see fit. Friends and family members usually smirk when I say “I’m on a diet” because they know that does not mean a thing to a rule-breaker like me (I do follow rules-my way). Anyway, I don’t touch Shiitake mushrooms. I used to hate both Shiitake mushrooms and dillweeds, but that changed when I grew older. Now I like dill weeds. A lot of it. Not the case with Shiitake mushrooms. Still, I need to give it credit as one of the best healthy and nutritious foods: 75 g of Shiitake mushrooms provides only 42 kcal and 50% of recommended daily intake of vitamin B5 (not to mention a huge daily intake percentage of other nutrients).
1/ Functions of Vitamin B5:
I usually call B vitamins based on their “numbers”, but not the case with vitamin B5, B7, and B9. I prefer to call these particular vitamins by their scientific names-just one of the strategy back in basic Nutrition 101 to memorize their identities and their functions. So…pantothenic acid has 3 main functions.
As I said earlier, pantothenic acid participates in the synthesis of CoA which plays a huge role in the breaking down of fat, carbohydrate, and protein for energy. How great or terrible you feel throughout the day has something to do with CoA. So, when the body does not generate enough CoA, we feel sluggish. When the body makes decent CoA, that 5 km run feels like a breeze. CoA is so important in the body that the other two functions of pantothenic acid happen because of the presence of CoA.
The second role of pantothenic acid is aiding in the synthesis of cholesterol. I know high cholesterol seems to be one of the most popular diagnosis in people in the middle age and older. However, it’s not the reason for us to shun cholesterol. In fact, cholesterol is one of the few substances that the body can make-in other words, cholesterol is not essential nutrient that must be inquired through foods. However, it’s so important in many activities and functions of other organs because IT MAKES HORMONES as well as vitamin D (when we sun bath). Fertility is affected by cholesterol because cholesterol makes estrogen and testosterone. So…don’t shun cholesterol. Your body can manage making enough cholesterol as long as it has materials needed-you don’t need to supply cholesterol by eating animal flesh.
The third role of pantothenic acid is releasing energy from carbohydrate, which may cause some issue in diabetic patients since this population is prone to infection of the skin in the feet (and ultimately gangrene/death of tissues—>amputation)
2/ Recommended Daily Intake (RDI):
- 0-6 months: 1.7 mg
- 7-12 months: 1.8 mg
- 1-3 years: 2 mg
- 4-8 years: 3 mg
- 9-13 years: 4 mg
- Males and females from 14 years: 5 mg/day
- Pregnant women: 6 mg/day
- Lactating women: 7mg/day
3/ Deficiency: Signs and symptoms:
There is no known case of toxicity of pantothenic acid. However, there have been cases of deficiency. If you experience something like what I describe below, you may want to check whether you need to get pantothenic supplement through foods or supplement over the counter.
Pantothenic Acid works closely with other B vitamins, especially Biotin (vitamin B7), Folic Acid (vitamin B9), and Colabamin (vitamin B12). In most cases, if you suffer vitamin B5 deficiency, you may risk yourself with biotin, folic acid, and vitamin B12 deficiencies. Some of the listed vitamin B5 deficiency signs and symptoms are actually the complication of other B vitamin deficiency. For example, lack of vitamin B5 causes the deficiency in biotin, which may give you a bad case of acne.
- High cholesterol levels
- Numbness or tingling feelings in the hands and feet (very important sign, but also may be due to ingestion of toxins from some seafoods)
- Loss of appetite
- Infection (among diabetic population)
4/ Food sources:
The good news for vegans and vegetarians is that vitamin B5 is available in many types of food, particularly plant foods. The best source is, of course, shiitake mushrooms, followed by avocado and sweet potatoes. By mixing some of the food below, you’ll certainly meet 100% daily value of pantothenic acid.
- Shiitake mushrooms, 75 g, raw: 2.61 mg (52% daily value)
- Avocado, 150 g, raw: 2.08 mg (42%)
- Sweet potato, 200 g (baked/steamed): 1.77 mg (35%)
- Broccoli, 150 g, steamed: 0.96 mg (19%)
- Crimini mushrooms (aka portabella), raw: 1.08 mg (22%)
- Cauliflower, 125 g, steamed or sauteed: 0.63 mg (13%)
- Beet greens, 150 g, steamed: 0.47 mg (9%)
- Turnip greens, 150 g, steamed/sauteed: 0.39 mg (8%)
- Bell peppers, 100 g, raw: 0.29 mg (6%)
- 1 ear of corn, steamed or grilled: 0.61 mg (12%)
- Potato, 150 g, baked: 0.5 mg (10%)
- 1 egg, cooked: 0.7 mg (15%)
- Chicken, 100g, cooked: 1.09 mg (20%)
- Beef, 100 g, cooked: 0.75 mg (14%)
- Shrimp, 100 g, cooked: 0.5 mg (10%)
- Yogurt, 125 g : 0.5 mg (10%)
- Cow’s milk. 125 ml: 0.46 mg (9%)
5/ Factors affecting vitamin B5 retention:
Needless to say, water is the enemy of vitamin B5 because this vitamin leaks into water, just like any other water soluble vitamins.
Second, one week of storage is long enough to destroy 20% of this vitamin. So…the practice of shopping once a week is not really ideal. I mean if you can afford 2-3 trips a week to a grocery store, do so because you get fresh vegetables every time.
The third factor, when foods with vitamin B5 are cooked in neutral pH, the vitamin is much better preserved. The truth goes the other way around: adding acidic foods in the foods that are rich in vitamin B5 may reduce the vitamin B5 original content.