VITAMIN B5 (Pantothenic acid)
Vitamin B5 plays an important role in the secretion of hormones, such as cortisone, because it supports the adrenal gland. These hormones assist the metabolism, help to fight allergies and are beneficial in the maintenance of healthy skin, muscles and nerves. Pantothenic acid also breaks down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from food and converts them into compounds the body can use. Some are of the opinion that pantothenic acid is also helpful to fight wrinkles as well as greying of the hair.
Pantothenic acid is synthesised by bacterial flora in the intestines. Also, as a constituent of coenzyme A, it plays a key role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and is therefore important for the maintenance and repair of all cells and tissue. It is involved in reactions that supply energy, in the synthesis of such vital compounds as sterols (cholesterol), hormones (growth, stress and sex hormones), neurotransmitters (acetylcholine), phospholipids (components of cell membranes), porphyrin (component of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red blood cell pigment), antibodies and in the metabolism of drugs (sulfonamides).
Vitamin B5 combines with sulphur in the body to make coenzyme A, thus getting rid of extra sulphur which may help people with a sulphur (thiol) intolerance.
It is released from coenzyme A in food by a series of enzyme reactions and then absorbed into the portal circulation and transported to the tissues, where resynthesis of the coenzyme occurs. It stimulates the adrenal glands and increases the production of cortisone for healthy nerves and skin.
Another essential role of pantothenic acid is its participation in acyl carrier protein, an enzyme involved in the synthesis of fatty acids.
Deficiency of vitamin B5
Biochemical changes of vitamin B5 deficiency include increased insulin sensitivity, lowered HDL blood cholesterol, a decreased level of potassium in the blood and failure of adrenocorticotropin to induce eosinopenia . Eosinopenia is a decrease in the number of specialised immune system white blood cells (eosinophils) in the blood. Eosinophils are one of the components responsible for combating multi-celled parasites.
Other signs of deficiency can include:
Muscle weakness and cramps
Neurological disorders including numbness and paraesthesia (abnormal sensation such as 'burning feet syndrome')
Sleep disturbances and insomnia
Tingling in the hands
Swelling of bodily tissues (oedema) can also be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. For natural ways to treat this see Water retention.
Coffee has a mild diuretic effect, which increases urination and water soluble vitamins, such as the B vitamins, can be depleted as a result of this fluid loss. In addition, it also interferes with the metabolism of some B vitamins, such as vitamin B5. Prolonged diarrhoea, drinking excessive alcohol and liver disease impairs the body's ability to absorb vitamin B5. Athletes, dancers and others involve in extreme physical activities may become deficient in vitamin B5 due to excessive perspiration and fluid loss.
See Performers and Sports Nutrition
Highest sources of vitamin B5 in milligrams per 100 grams