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Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) belongs to the B-vitamin complex.

Pantothenic acid acts as a precursor for the synthesis of coenzyme A (CoA) and serves as an acyl carrier protein. CoA is essential to numerous metabolic pathways that sustain life. Date of preparation: December 2018


Importance of pantothenic acid for health

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) belongs to the B-vitamin complex and acts as a precursor for the synthesis of coenzyme A (CoA) and serves as an acyl carrier protein. CoA is essential to numerous metabolic pathways that sustain life (1-4):

  • Synthesis of pantothenic acid cofactors (CoA, 4’-phosphopantetheine)
  • Cofactor and co-substrate function (CoA, 4’-phosphopantetheinylation)
  • Acyl-carrier protein
  • 10-formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase
  • a-aminoadipate semialdehyde synthase

Pantothenic acid is derived from dietary CoA or phosphopantetheine, which are converted to pantothenic acid through a cascade of digestive enzymes in the intestinal lumen and intestinal cells before transport to the bloodstream. The red blood cells, and to a much lesser extend the plasma, are distributing the vitamin throughout the body (1, 2, 5). The majority of pantothenic acid in tissues is present as CoA but minor amounts are found as acyl carrier protein or free pantothenic acid (2).

Many food items are rich in pantothenic acid, including animal organs, fish, shellfish, milk products, eggs, avocados legumes, mushrooms, or sweet potatoes. Its bioavailability from foods has been estimated to 40-60%, but data is limited. Whole grains are also a good vitamin B5 source but when refined losses up to 75% can occur. Food processing such as canning and freezing may results in similar pantothenic acid losses (2, 3).

Important information

Very little information is available on nutrient-nutrient interactions of pantothenic acid. Thiamin, and possibly riboflavin, may affect pantothenic acid metabolism, but more research is needed for a better understanding. Pantothenic acid in high doses may also compete with biotin for intestinal and cellular uptake by the human sodium-dependent multivitamin transporter (hSMVT) (1, 3).

Naturally occurring deficiency is usually linked to cases of severe malnutrition and in combination with other nutrient deficiencies. Symptoms of deficiency include headache, fatigue, insomnia, intestinal disturbance, and numbness and tingling of hands and feet. At-risk population include individuals with pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration 2 mutation (2, 3, 6).

Very high doses of pantothenic acid have been reported to cause diarrhoea, otherwise, this vitamin is generally not known to be toxic to humans. Given the lack of reports of adverse effects, there is no tolerable Upper Limit (UL) established (2, 3).

Drug interactions have been reported for oral contraceptives, which may increase the pantothenic acid requirement. Also, pantethine use with cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) or with nicotinic acid may result in additive effects on blood lipids (3).

Key info

Keywords: coenzymeA (CoA) precursor, fatty acid synthesis, biotin

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