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Overview of Vitamin B5 Deficiency: Symptoms, causes, and risk factors

Dr. Ajay KohliSept 14, 2023

Vitamins are organic substances needed for the normal growth, development, and function of cells. There are 13 essential vitamins. Vitamin B5, or Pantothenic acid, is one among 8 B-complex vitamins. The purpose of the B vitamins is to convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose) which the body utilises to produce energy. B-complex vitamins are responsible for maintaining healthy eyes, skin, hair, and liver. They also help in the smooth functioning of the nervous system. Thus, vitamin deficiency can cause problems. Read ahead for an overview of Vitamin B5 Deficiency.

Vitamin B5 Deficiency



Deficiency of Vitamin B5

When it comes to vitamin B5, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults above the age of 19 years is 5mg daily. For pregnant and lactating women, the dose increases to 6mg and 7mg daily, respectively. As pantothenic acid is found in almost all foods, it's very unlikely for a person to be deficient in this vitamin. Its deficiency is rarely seen, except for people who have other nutrition deficiencies in cases of malnutrition. Another factor that leads to its deficiency is due to genetic mutations, in which pantothenic acid cannot be synthesised.

Symptoms of Vitamin B5 Deficiency

Deficiency symptoms of vitamin B5 include the following.

  • Headache

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Stomach Cramps

  • Irritability and restlessness

  • Numbness or burning sensation in hands and feet

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Muscle cramps

  • Depression

  • Respiratory infections

Causes of Vitamin B5 Deficiency

Vitamin B5 Deficiency is known as hypovitaminosis B5. It occurs under rare conditions of extreme, life-threatening malnutrition cases as it is present virtually in all foods. Some gastrointestinal diseases can also cause deficiency of this vitamin as well as intake of pantothenic acid antagonists (antivitamins), such as omega-methyl pantothenic acid. Other than these reasons, certain genetic mutations are also responsible for a loss of function in the synthesis of pantothenic acid. In cases of deficiency, vitamin B5 may be taken orally. For those individuals who cannot eat on their own, pantothenic acid may be given through an intravenous tube or a feeding tube.

In a nutshell, possible causes of Vitamin B5 Deficiency can be clubbed under the following 5 categories.

  1. Low intake

  • Imbalanced or heavily restricted diet

  • Food preparation (due to excessive heating)

2. Increased requirements

  • Pregnancy and lactation

  • Age

  • Stress

  • Alcohol consumption

3. Reduced absorption or uptake by the body

  • Due to bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease

4. Increased excretion

  • Diabetes mellitus

  • Hemodialysis

5. Interaction with medications

  • Antacids, oral contraceptives, cytostatics

Risk factors for Vitamin B5 Deficiency

Deficiency of vitamin B5 does not occur in isolation but coupled with deficiencies of other B-complex vitamins. The group of people who are at risk of developing this deficiency includes the following.

  • Women on oral contraceptives

  • Alcoholics

  • People with insufficient food intake (e.g., elderly, post-operative)

  • People with impaired absorption

Treatment and management of Vitamin B5 Deficiency

If there is a deficiency of pantothenic acid in the body, a diet rich in meat, vegetables, eggs, milk, cereal grains, and legumes should be consumed. All these food items are rich sources of vitamin B5. 

Food items should be consumed in their fresh form rather than in processed form such as canning, milling, and freezing. Boiling food should be avoided as vitamin B5 is water-soluble and its content is lost in food that is boiled. As a supplement, vitamin B5 can also be taken along with other B-complex vitamin formulations. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of common queries and their resolutions regarding Vitamin B5 Deficiency.


Does vitamin B5 help in acne and pimple treatment?

Yes, vitamin B5 helps in acne and pimple treatment by decreasing oil production and secretion. Using coenzyme A (CoA) metabolism, pantothenic acid breaks down sebum inside the skin’s oil glands. In addition to this, the vitamin is also responsible for enhancing epidermal barrier performance, thereby reducing acne and pimple production.

Is it safe to consume pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)?

Oral supplements of this vitamin are safe to consume orally as it is well accepted by the body. Being a water-soluble vitamin, pantothenic acid will not cause an overdose as the urinary tract system will filter and remove the excess quantity. However, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking any oral supplements if you are already taking some drugs that might interact with it. 

What are the side effects or contraindications of taking vitamin B5?

Even though a hazardous level at increased amounts is not seen, it is seen that doses above 10 gm per day may cause stomach upset or mild diarrhoea. 

What are the best sources of Vitamin B5?

Best sources of vitamin B5 include beef liver, sunflower seeds, mushroom, and trout fish. Other good sources are root vegetables, tomatoes, fortified cereals, broccoli, and whole grains. However, it should be noted that cooking may destroy some vitamin B5. There are also certain foods like vinegar and baking powder that might interfere with the uptake of this vitamin.

What is the daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin B5?

According to the daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA), the daily intake of vitamin B5 by adult men and women who are 19 years or older, should be 5mg. This dosage increases under certain special conditions such as in pregnant and lactating women, who require 6mg and 7 mg daily, respectively. 

Which are the best sources of Vitamin B5?

The best sources of vitamin B5 are food items such as eggs, milk, vegetables, brewer’s yeast, organ meat (liver, brain, kidney, heart), wholegrain cereals, and legumes.

What are the important functions of vitamin B5?

Just like all B vitamins, Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is also water soluble, meaning that the body does not store it. Vitamin B5 plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells and hormones related to stress, which are manufactured in the adrenal glands. Another important function of vitamin B5 is to maintain a healthy digestive tract and aid the body in taking up other vitamins such as Riboflavin (Vitamin B2). Other than these functions, pantothenic acid is needed for the synthesis of cholesterol and coenzyme A (CoA). CoA is a chemical compound that helps enzymes to build and break down fatty acids.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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