Pantothenic acid gets its name from the Greek word pantos, meaning everywhere; because it is available in such a wide variety of foods. The problem is that much of a foods content of B5 is lost through cooking; which in another reason for eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible in the raw state.
B5 is one of the eight water-soluble B vitamins which cannot be stored by the body and have to be replenished in your daily diet. We have already covered B1, B2, and B3 and B5 like the others plays an important role in the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, which is burned to produce energy.
These nutrients are also needed to breakdown fats and proteins as well as promoting the health of the nervous system, skin, hair, eyes and importantly this month, the liver.
Vitamin B5 has a number of roles in the body some more critical than others. One job that is vitally important is assisting in the manufacture of red blood cells as well as sex and stress related hormones.
Without B5 our digestive tract would become unhealthy and we would be unable to use other vitamins as effectively. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘anti-stress’ vitamin because it is believed to enhance the activity of the immune system and help the body overcome stressful conditions.
Currently research is looking into the benefits of B5 and treatment for elevated cholesterol but there are other areas where the vitamin may be beneficial.
Some studies are indicating that B5 may speed up wound healing especially following surgery and as part of a B-complex supplement it may help recovery from major burns.
Arthritis has also come under the microscope as blood tests taken from arthritis sufferers’ show that they were suffering from a deficiency of pantothenic acid, but more study will be needed to confirm this. (I will be covering Arthritis later in the week)
There are rumours that taking B5 can help with wrinkles and stop your hair greying but this is not proven. However, this does not stop the cosmetic industry from claiming that shampoo and other products containing synthesised B5 can add lustre to your locks!
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A DEFICIENCY?
If you are following a healthy eating plan with lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains you will be unlikely to be suffering from B5 deficiency.
If you are suffering from a mild to moderate deficiency you might suffer from tiredness, headaches, nausea, tingling in the hands, depression, abdominal pains, insomnia, burning feet, muscle weakness and cramps.
In extreme cases personality changes can take place as well as heart problems.
WHAT ARE THE DIETARY SOURCES OF B5?
As I have mentioned, there are a large variety of sources for the vitamin including fresh meats, vegetables and wholegrains.
If you like mushrooms and in particular Shitake mushrooms you will find that by including two or three times a week you will be getting a great B5 hit. Dairy products including cheese contain healthy amounts as do avocados, egg yolks, proteins such as beef, turkey and other poultry, shellfish and oily fish such as salmon and trout, peanuts and lentils and strawberries.
Supplements containing B5.
If you feel that your daily diet contains sufficient B-vitamins including B5 but you are still suffering from arthritis or stress related conditions; seek the advice of a medical expert who can advise you on the dosage of any supplements including B5. If you take a multi-vitamin and mineral as I do, you will find that all the B vitamins are present and it is also sold separately under the names pantothenic acid and calcium pantothenate. You can also buy B-complex formulations, but do check that they are from a high quality producer. I use Solgar and also Higher Nature which is online.
Coming up on the health front this week.
On Wednesday I will be looking at a very common lifestyle induced disease. Arthritis has become accepted as a natural part of aging but in fact can have a fundamental nutritional cause.
For the previous posts in this series on Nutrients of the week you will find them here.
Always delighted to receive your feedback.. thanks for stopping by.. Sally