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Pantothenic Acid

Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is an essential nutrient naturally present in some foods. The main function of this water-soluble B vitamin is in the synthesis of coenzyme A (CoA) and acyl carrier protein. CoA is essential for fatty acid synthesis and degradation, transfer of acetyl and acyl groups, and a multitude of other anabolic and catabolic processes. Acyl carrier protein’s main role is in fatty acid synthesis.

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About 85 percent of dietary pantothenic acid is in the form of CoA or phosphopantetheine. These forms are converted to pantothenic acid by digestive enzymes in the intestinal lumen and intestinal cells. Pantothenic acid is absorbed in the intestine and delivered directly into the bloodstream.

›  Health benefits

Experts have hypothesized that pantothenic acid supplementation may reduce lipid levels in people with hyperlipidemia. Several clinical trials have shown that pantethine, a form of pantothenic acid, reduces lipid levels when taken in large amounts, but pantothenic acid itself does not have the same effects.

Another clinical trial looked at the effect of pantothenic supplements on serum lipid levels in adults with hyperlipidemia. Results showed that, on average, triglyceride levels declined with use of the supplement.

›  How much do I need?

The amount needed depends on gender and age. People 14 and over need 5 milligrams daily. Pregnant women and teens need 6 milligrams daily. Breastfeeding women and teens need 7 milligrams daily.

A pantothenic acid deficiency is rare because so many foods contain the vitamin, but it is possible with severe malnutrition, and is usually accompanied by other nutrient deficiencies. Signs of deficiency include numbness and burning of the hands and feet, headache, fatigue, irritability, restlessness, disturbed sleep, and gastrointestinal disturbances with anorexia.

›  In food

Almost all foods contain pantothenic acid in varying amounts. Some with higher amounts include beef, chicken, organ meats, whole grains and some vegetables. Pantothenic acid is also added to a lot of foods, including breakfast cereals and beverages.

›  Dietary supplements

Pantothenic acid is available by itself as a supplement and can be found in multivitamin/multiminerals, as well as in combination with other B vitamins.

Source: National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements

Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.

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