Pantothenic acid-Vitamin B5: Dietary Source, AI, and Functions

Pantothenic acid, vitamin B5, is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin. It is found in many foods, including vegetables, eggs, liver, and yeast.

Alternate namePantothenic Acid
Year of Discovery1931
Discovered byRoger J Williams and RW Truesdail

Pantothenic acid is a precursor to coenzyme A and is involved in fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism and synthesizing steroid hormones.

The Greek word “pantos” means everywhere. As the name suggests, it is widely distributed in nature. Pantothenic acid contains beta-alanine and D-pantoic acid in the amide linkage.

Dietary Sources

Pantothenic acid is widely distributed in foods of both plant and animal origin. It is especially abundant in animal tissues, whole-grain cereals, and legumes. Smaller amounts are found in milk, vegetables, and fruits. 

Normal flora in the intestine also synthesize pantothenic acid, but the amount produced and the availability of the vitamin from this source are unknown.

Due to the ubiquitous spread of this vitamin in different foods and possible contribution from intestinal microflora, pantothenic acid deficiency is rare. 

Rich sources of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) are;

  • Chicken
  • Egg yolk
  • Liver
  • Yeast 
  • Whole grain cereals 
  • Legumes 
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocados
  • Tomato

Adequate Intake

The recommended dietary allowance of pantothenic acid has not been formally established, but the dietary reference adequate intake is 5 mg daily in adults. [1]

Life Stage GroupPantothenic acid
0-6 months1.7* mg/day
7-12 months1.8* mg/day
1-3 years 2 mg/day
4-8 years 3 mg/day
9-13 years 4 mg/day
14-18 years 5 mg/day
>19 years 5 mg/day
9-13 years 4 mg/day
14-18 years 5 mg/day
>19 years 5 mg/day
Pregnant girl or woman 6 mg/day
Lactating mother  7 mg/day
Source: Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes (1997, 1998, 2000) [1]

Pantothenic acid is absorbed in the small intestine. Pantothenate kinase catalyzes the synthesis of CoA from pantothenate. CoA can be hydrolyzed to pantothenate for excretion. Pantothenic acid is excreted in the urine.


Pantothenic acid converts food into energy. It helps make lipids (fats), neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobin.

Pantothenic acid is a key component of cofactor coenzyme A (CoA) and phosphopantetheine, which are crucial to the metabolism of fatty acid. 

Coenzyme A is a cofactor, an acyl group carrier for other enzymes, and an acyl protein carrier in the fatty acid synthase complex. CoA also plays an important role in the citric acid cycle in the forms of acetyl-CoA and succinyl-CoA.


Pantothenic acid deficiencies are extremely rare. Pantothenic acid deficiency is a component of mixed, severe malnutrition with combined vitamin deficiencies.

Symptoms of pantothenic acid deficiency include gastrointestinal disturbance, irritability, fatigue, muscle cramps, depression, sleep disturbances, numbness, paresthesias, and hypoglycemia with increased insulin sensitivity. It may be the cause of the burning feet syndrome experienced by prisoners of war. 

  1. Institute of Medicine (US) Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes and its Panel on Folate, Other B Vitamins, and Choline. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. National Academies Press (US); Washington (DC): 1998. [PubMed]

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