Vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid), is used in the conversion of food into energy and in the maintenance of healthy skin, hair and eyes, nervous function and digestive health. Provitamin B5 (Panthenol) is commonly used in a number of health-related products, as it is converted into vitamin B5 by the body's normal metabolic processes.
Panthenol is used as a humectant (attracts and retains water), a moisturizer and emollient, and is widely used in cosmetics as well as in skin and hair care products. It creates a skin barrier, reducing the amount of water lost through the skin. It also improves skin texture, making it softer and more elastic, so is useful in treating dry, rough, scaly skin problems.
The mitochondria in the body's cells use a combination of B5 and coenzyme A to produce energy. The presence of vitamin B5 in the cells increases the production of ATP, the molecule that transports the energy that powers the body's systems. Without adequate amounts of this vitamin, you may become tired, weak and listless.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, lab and animal studies have shown that wounds heal more quickly, especially after surgery, with the use of vitamin B5, particularly when combined with vitamin C.
Vitamin B5 helps the body to utilize other vitamins as well, such as vitamin B2. It also allows the body to best utilize the cholesterol in the food you eat, reducing your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol and raising your "good" HDL cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that vitamin B5 may help reduce dangerous triglycerides in the blood, which can lead to heart disease.
Vitamin B5 is found in the greatest abundance in organ meats, cauliflower, broccoli, yogurt, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, turnip greens and corn. However, in food sources it is a relatively unstable vitamin, and cooking, freezing or processing foods tends to destroy it. Processed grains, canned vegetables and frozen foods have shown a 21-70% loss in vitamin B5.
Though a vitamin B5 deficiency is rare, people with a poor diet or who have digestive problems are sometimes deficient. Supplementation has been shown to help in the treatment or prevention of a range of conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal insufficiency, burning foot syndrome and cataracts. Vitamin B5 supports the adrenal glands and can help to moderate stress hormones.
As of this writing, the recommended daily intake of vitamin B5 has been set at 5 mg for adults, and 5 to 7 mg for pregnant or breastfeeding women.