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The Power of Vitamin B5: Functions, Food Sources, and Daily Requirements

Table of Contents

What is it and its Importance

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for human health. It is a component of coenzyme A, a molecule that plays a vital role in various metabolic pathways in the body, including the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol, and steroid hormones. Vitamin B5 is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine, which are essential for brain function.

Brief History and Discovery

Vitamin B5 was discovered in the early 20th century by Roger J. Williams, a biochemist who also discovered vitamins B1 and B2. He isolated the compound from liver and yeast and named it pantothenic acid, which means "from everywhere" in Greek, as it is present in almost all food sources.


Vitamin B5 is widely distributed in foods, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It is also found in fortified cereals and energy bars. However, vitamin B5 is easily destroyed by food processing, such as canning, freezing, and refining, so it is essential to consume fresh and unprocessed foods to obtain optimal levels.

Functions in the Body

Vitamin B5 has numerous functions in the body, including:

  • Energy production: Vitamin B5 is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, which are the primary sources of energy for the body.
  • Hormone synthesis: Vitamin B5 is essential for the production of adrenal hormones, such as cortisol and aldosterone, which regulate blood pressure, electrolyte balance, and stress response.
  • Skin health: Vitamin B5 is involved in the formation and regeneration of skin cells, which can help improve skin texture, reduce acne, and promote wound healing.
  • Brain function: Vitamin B5 is necessary for the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is essential for memory, attention, and learning.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily intake of vitamin B5 varies depending on age, gender, and physiological status. The average adult requires 5 mg per day, while pregnant and lactating women require higher doses. However, vitamin B5 is generally safe, and there is no known toxicity associated with high intake levels.

Recap and Conclusion

In summary, vitamin B5 is a crucial nutrient that plays a vital role in various physiological processes in the human body, including energy production, hormone synthesis, skin health, and brain function. It is widely available in a variety of foods, but it can be easily destroyed by food processing. Therefore, it is essential to consume fresh and unprocessed foods to obtain optimal levels. Meeting the recommended daily intake of vitamin B5 can provide numerous health benefits, making it an essential nutrient to include in your diet.

Caroline Buckee

Caroline Flannigan is an epidemiologist. She is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and is the Associate Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

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