January 11, 2024

Vitamin B5: An Abundant and Beneficial Part of Your Healthy Diet

Also known as pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 helps your metabolism and is found in a wide range of foods

bowl filled with roasted chicken, avocado, quinoa, pickles and herbs

Sometimes getting all the vitamins you need to stay healthy can feel like work. Because some vitamins can feel elusive.

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If you don’t eat animal products, for example, getting your fair share of vitamin B12 can be a challenge. And vitamin K — for all its benefits for your heart, bones and more — can come from some rather dubious food sources.

But vitamin B5 isn’t one of those hard-to-come-by nutrients. It’s found in a range of healthy foods that we eat all the time. In fact, vitamin B5’s other name, pantothenic acid, comes from the Greek word “panto,” which means “everywhere.”

“Unless you’re living with malnutrition, it’s very unlikely you’re deficient in vitamin B5,” says registered dietitian Natalie Romito, RDN, LD.

And good thing, too, because vitamin B5 does a lot of good work for your body. What are vitamin B5’s benefits, and what foods are chock full of pantothenic acid? Let’s take a look.

Pantothenic acid benefits

Vitamin B5 is one of the eight B vitamins. And like other B vitamins, it plays an important role in several processes throughout your body. (Bonus: It also can be a helpful ingredient in your skin care and hair care products.)

“B vitamins act as coenzymes, which means they help to either create enzymes our bodies need or activate enzymes that are in your body so they can go and do their jobs,” Romito shares. “Some of those enzymes help with digesting foods and converting foods into energy that our cells can use. Others are used for functions like growing healthy blood cells, replicating DNA or preventing DNA damage.”

Here’s what vitamin B5 specifically does for your body.

Food metabolism

Vitamin B5’s primary goal is to help make and break down fatty acids. That means it helps to turn the fats in the foods you eat into energy. It does that by making a compound in your body called coenzyme A, which helps turn food into energy your body can use to go about its business.

In people living with a rare genetic condition called pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN), vitamin B5 doesn’t effectively convert into coenzyme A. That can lead to serious and life-threatening loss of function. PKAN is very rare. It’s estimated to affect between 1 and 3 people per million around the world.

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Improving cholesterol

Some early research has suggested that high doses of one form of vitamin B5 may help people with hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). Some studies have reported that high levels of vitamin B5 can help lower levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and improve or maintain levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol).

“It’s still being studied,” Romito says. “But some research has shown that vitamin B5 impacts how lipids are processed and utilized in your body, which can lead to improvements in cholesterol.”

In one study of 120 people, researchers showed that participants who took vitamin B5 supplements had small but significant improvements in cholesterol.

While the research is promising so far, it’s still preliminary. Future studies will be needed on larger groups of people and following the effects of vitamin B5 on cholesterol for longer periods of time.

How much vitamin B5 do you need?

The Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine set intake recommendations for various nutrients. They recommend the following as adequate intakes of vitamin B5:

  • 6 months and younger: 1.7 milligrams (mg).
  • 7–12 months: 1.8 mg.
  • 1–3 years: 2 mg.
  • 4–8 years: 3 mg.
  • 9–13 years: 4 mg.
  • 14 years and older: 5 mg.
  • People who are pregnant: 6 mg.
  • People who are breastfeeding: 7 mg.

There’s no upper limit set for vitamin B5. That means there’s not enough evidence to consider high amounts of vitamin B5 to be a major health risk. But some studies have reported that having more than 10 mg per day of pantothenic acid supplements may be associated with stomach issues, like mild diarrhea.

Vitamin B5 foods

Certain vitamins tend to be found mostly within certain food groups. When you think of vitamin C, you probably think of citrus and other brightly colored fruits and vegetables. When you think of vitamin K, dark, leafy greens may come to mind.

B5 is different in that respect. Because pantothenic acid is found in a wide range of foods and food groups.

So, even if you don’t eat meat. Or dairy. Or you’re picky about your veggies. Chances are you’re getting enough B5 from your plate. The National Institutes of Health goes so far as to say, “Almost all plant- and animal-based foods contain pantothenic acid in varying amounts.”

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Some of the top food sources for vitamin B5 include:

Food
Fortified breakfast cereal
Serving size
1 serving
Vitamin B5 content
5 mg
Cooked shitake mushrooms
Serving size
1/2 cup
Vitamin B5 content
2.6 mg
Sunflower seeds
Serving size
1/4 cup
Vitamin B5 content
2.4 mg
Roasted chicken breast
Serving size
3 ounces
Vitamin B5 content
1.3 mg
Cooked bluefin tuna
Serving size
3 ounces
Vitamin B5 content
1.2 mg
Avocado
Serving size
1/2 avocado
Vitamin B5 content
1 mg
2% milk
Serving size
1 cup
Vitamin B5 content
0.9 mg
Stir-fried white mushrooms
Serving size
1/2 cup
Vitamin B5 content
0.8 mg
Baked russet potatoes
Serving size
1 medium potato
Vitamin B5 content
0.7 mg
Hard-boiled eggs
Serving size
1 large egg
Vitamin B5 content
0.7 mg
Nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
Serving size
5.3 ounces
Vitamin B5 content
0.6 mg
Ground beef
Serving size
3 ounces
Vitamin B5 content
0.6 mg
Roasted peanuts
Serving size
1/4 cup
Vitamin B5 content
0.5 mg
Boiled broccoli
Serving size
1/2 cup
Vitamin B5 content
0.5 mg
Whole-wheat pita
Serving size
1 large pita
Vitamin B5 content
0.5 mg
Canned chickpeas
Serving size
1/2 cup
Vitamin B5 content
0.4 mg
Brown rice
Serving size
1/2 cup
Vitamin B5 content
0.4 mg
Oats
Serving size
1/2 cup
Vitamin B5 content
0.4 mg

Do you need vitamin B5 supplements?

Most healthy people will easily get the vitamin B5 they need in their diets — no supplement needed.

People living with PKAN or who don’t get the nutrition their bodies need can be at risk for deficiency in pantothenic acid and many other nutrients their bodies need. That can include people who:

If you’re living with a condition that causes undernutrition, talk with a healthcare provider to best address your personal nutritional goals and needs.

For everyone else, Romito advises against vitamin B5 supplements.

“Vitamin B5 is ubiquitous in our food supply,” she reinforces. “And we don’t, as of now, have data to suggest that people benefit from more vitamin B5 than what’s typically in our diets. Focus on eating a varied diet, and you’ll get what you need.”

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