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Pantothenic Acid - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

Also Known As - Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin. It was isolated in 1938 by Dr. R J Williams. However, its role as a coenzyme was elucidated in 1946. Pantothenic acid is widely distributed in foods and in body tissues. In fact, it derives its name from the Greek word panthos meaning 'everywhere'.

Most foods contain pantothenic acid in its coenzyme form, which is digested in the intestine to release the free vitamin. The latter is absorbed from the small intestine and transported to various body tissues in the free form. Within the tissues, pantothenic acid is converted to the coenzyme form. It is widely distributed in most body tissues, particularly the liver, kidney, brain, heart, adrenals and testes.

Pantothenic acid is highly soluble in water. There is little loss of the vitamin in ordinary cooking procedures except in acidic and alkaline solutions. There is no known toxicity of the vitamin nor a natural deficiency state.

Functions of pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid acts as a component of coenzymes that are involved in more than 100 different metabolic reactions that sustain life. Pantothenic acid functions in the body as a component of Coenzyme A (CoA) and Acyl Carrier Protein (ACP). In these forms, pantothenic acid is essential for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, and carbohydrates. It catalyses important metabolic reactions that generate energy from food (fat, carbohydrates and proteins).

Both CoA and ACP function in our body as carriers of acetyl group. CoA functions in reactions that accept or remove the acetyl group (-CH3CO). Some of the important reactions in which CoA is involved are explained here.

  • In the formation of acetylcholine, a substance in the transmission of nerve impulses
  • In important catabolic reactions such as oxidation of glucose and fatty acids that generate energy.
  • In the synthesis of cholesterol and other sterols in the body
  • In the synthesis of porphyrin, a component of haemoglobin
  • Both CoA and Acp are required for the synthesis of fatty acids in the body

Vitamin B5 Pantothenic Acid Benefits

Pantothenic acid is known as the 'anti-stress vitamin', and is popularly taken as a supplement when feeling stressed. Pantothenic acid benefits enhances the ability of the adrenal gland to produce the 'stress hormone', cortisol.

Vitamin B5 is also important for maintaining healthy skin, nerves, glands and muscles, and helps to maintain the digestive tract and fight allergies.

Some think Vitamin B5 pantothenic acid benefits may help fight hair graying. Creams and lotions contain pantothenic acid to reduce skin inflammation and speed the healing of wounds.

This vitamin B5 pantothenic acid supplement assists growth, reproduction, and normal physiological functions, helping the body to combat stress and manage cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Pantothenic acid benefits stamina, helps with anxiety and depression, and increases omega-3 essential fatty acids in the body.

Vitamin B5 side effects also help relieve painful inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis, and is effective as a gout remedy because it breaks down the excess uric acid which causes gout.

Daily allowances of pantothenic acid

The minimum Recommended Dosage Allowance of Vitamin B 5 are : 4 to 7 mg. The average American diet provides between 3 and 6 mg of Vitamin B 5

Rich sources of pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid is present in both plant and animal foods. Rich sources include liver, kidney, yeast, egg yolk and broccoli. Among the more commonly consumed foods chicken, fish, milk, curd, legumes, mushrooms and sweet potatoes are good sources. Whole grain cereals are also good sources of pantothenic acid. However, most of it is located in the outer layers of the grain and about half the vitamin is lost during milling.

Deficiency of pantothenic acid

Naturally occurring pantothenic acid deficiency in humans is rare. However when deficient diets were fed to volunteers along with an antagonist the following symptoms were observed - loss of appetite, indigestion, abdominal pain, headache, fatigue, mental depression, sleeplessness, numbness and tingling of hands and feet.

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