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Pantothenic Acid

What is pantothenic acid?

Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that belongs to the family of B-complex vitamins. Besides being present in a number of food sources, it is also produced in the human body by bacteria in the intestines. Since it is not stored in body fat, after the body uses what it needs, any excess pantothenic acid is excreted via urine or sweat.

Why do we need it?

Pantothenic acid provides an essential role in cellular metabolism and participates in the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It is also essential for the synthesis of cholesterol, steroids and fatty acids, and aids in the utilization of other vitamins, especially riboflavin.

Studies have shown pantothenic acid to reduce blood cholesterol levels in diabetic patients. Other studies have shown it to stimulate the adrenal glands and increase the production of cortisone and other adrenal hormones important for healthy skin and nerves. Pantothenic acid may also play a protective role against hair loss and rheumatoid arthritis.

How much pantothenic acid should I take?

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for pantothenic acid is as follows:

  • Adult men: between 4-7 milligrams/day
  • Adult women: between 4-7 milligrams/day
  • Children aged 7-10: between 4-5 milligrams/day
  • Infants: 3 milligrams/day
  • Pregnant/lactating women: between 4-7 milligrams/day

What are some good sources of pantothenic acid?

Whole grains, beans, milk and eggs are considered excellent sources of pantothenic acid. Other sources include broccoli, cabbage, and white and sweet potatoes.

What can happen if I don't get enough pantothenic acid?

Because pantothenic acid is produced naturally by the body, deficiency is rare. Symptoms of deficiency include upset stomach, increased risk of upper respiratory infections, fatigue, irritability, burning sensations in the feet and sleep disorders.

What can happen if I take too much?

Because it is water-soluble, the body usually excretes any excess pantothenic acid through sweat or urine. However, very high dosages (>6 grams per day) may cause diarrhea in humans and have been shown to cause liver damage in rats.

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• Fry PC, Fox HM, Tao HG. Metabolic response to a pantothenic acid deficient diet in humans. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1976;22(4):339-46.
• Tahiliani AG, Beinlich CJ. Pantothenic acid in health and disease. Vitam Horm 1991;46:165-228.
• Borets VM, Lis MA, Pyrochkin VM, Kishkovich VP, Butkevich ND. Therapeutic efficacy of pantothenic acid preparations in ischemic heart disease patients. Vopr Pitan Mar/Apr 1987;(2):15-7.
• Fidanza A. Therapeutic action of pantothenic acid. Int J Vit Nutr Res 1983;suppl 24:5367 (review).
Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th ed. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989.
• American Herbal Products Association. Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press, 1997.

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