Pantothenic acid is a B vitamin named after the Greek word
pantos, meaning "everywhere" because it is found in both plant and animal food
sources. Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin that cannot be stored in the body
but must be replaced daily, either from diet or from supplements.
Pantothenic acids' most important function is as an essential component in the production
of coenzyme A, a vital catalyst that is required for the conversion of carbohydrates,
fats, and protein into energy. Pantothenic acid is also referred to as an antistress
vitamin due to its vital role in the formation of various adrenal hormones, steroids, and
cortisone, as well as contributing to the production of important brain neuro-transmitters
such as acetylcholine. In addition to helping to fight depression Pantothenic acid also
supports the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and is required for the
production of cholesterol, bile, vitamin D, red blood cells, and antibodies.
There is no specific deficiency disease associated with inadequate intake of pantothenic
acid, though under severe dietary conditions a lack of B5 can lead to a variety of
symptoms including hypoglycemia, skin disorders, fatigue, depression, digestive problems,
lack of coordination and muscle cramps. The current RDA for pantothenic acid is 10 mg.
Pantothenic acid is found in a wide variety of foods including beans, beef, liver,
salt-water fish, chicken, cheese, eggs, whole grain breads and cereals, avocados,
cauliflower, green peas, beans , nuts, dates, and potatoes. Most common B-complex formulas
contain from 10 to 100 mg. of B5, though daily doses up to 1000 mg are not uncommon,
especially for treatment of arthritis and allergies.