Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is an essential water-soluble B vitamin, found abundantly in your diet. Like many of the other B vitamins, this nutrient plays a key role in energy metabolism. It is essential for the synthesis of coenzyme A, which is involved in the metabolism of all macronutrients, and also plays a key role in gene expression. Research finds vitamin B5 can reduce the risk of preeclampsia, low birth weight, and early labor during pregnancy by its ability to regulate stress-related hormones such as cortisol from the adrenal glands. Although recommended intake increases during pregnancy, it is not difficult to achieve adequate levels!
What Is Pantothenic Acid And Why Do I Need It?
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is an essential nutrient for your health and the growth and development of your baby. This mighty nutrient plays a variety of roles including:
- Energy metabolism -> needed to convert protein, carbohydrates, and fats into energy
- Cellular function
- Necessary to make blood cells (hemoglobin)
- Supports hair, nail, and eye function
- Supports nervous system and production/activation of neurotransmitters
- Necessary for regulation of sex and stress hormones released from adrenal glands
In this article we will:
- Review pantothenic acid’s role in pregnancy
- Introduce the biology of B5 metabolism in the body
- Explore what prenatal vitamins contain B5
- Learn foods high in B5
- Define recommended intake, toxicity, and deficiency
Benefits of B5 (pantothenic acid) During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be stressful! Luckily certain vitamins and minerals can help alleviate some of this stress, this includes vitamin B5. Vitamin B5 can reduce stress by supporting the adrenal glands and regulating the hormone cortisol, which can reduce overall stress. Reduced stress during pregnancy also decreases the risk of preeclampsia, low birth weight, and early labor.
In addition to its ability to regulate stress hormones, B5 is essential for energy metabolism. Because your body requires more calories and nutrients during pregnancy, B5 is important to help make sure everything is being processed correctly to optimize the utilization of food within the body.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) In Action: What Does It Do In The Body?
Vitamin B5 plays a critical role in energy metabolism or the conversion of food into fuel. This is because it is a key precursor for the synthesis of an important enzyme known as CoA (coenzyme A). This coenzyme is one of the most important enzymes for the cellular metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids, the oxidation of fatty acids and pyruvate, and the expression of genes.
CoA is derived from vitamin B5 and requires a protein called cystine to complete synthesis. These two molecules, along with ATP are able to produce CoA and then fulfill its role in metabolism.
Within the gut, there is a small amount of vitamin B5 produced by bacteria. This form of B5 produced by the bacteria can then be directly absorbed into the intestine and used for the synthesis of CoA.
Did you know? B5 can lower LDL cholesterol or the ‘bad’ cholesterol!
B5 and the Adrenal Gland
Pantothenic acid plays an essential role in regulating and producing hormones synthesized in the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are the glands that sit on top of your kidneys and synthesize sex hormones (androgen and estrogen), stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine), and a sodium balance-related hormone (aldosterone).
Research finds that adequate B5 is able to down-regulate the production of cortisol, one of the major stress-related hormones. In pregnancy, high levels of cortisol are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage; preeclampsia; developemental, growth, and cognitive delays; and early labor.
Is Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) In Common Prenatal Vitamins?
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) can be found in a variety of foods so supplementation is typically not necessary. That being said, many prenatal supplements still include B5 to ensure both mom and baby are receiving adequate amounts. As a supplement, B5 is found in a few common forms including D-pantothenic acid, dexpanthenol, and most commonly d-calcium pantothenate.
Some prenatal supplements do not contain B5, so it is important to read the label prior to purchasing. Below is a review of B5 in common prenatal supplements:
|Name of the Prenatal||Amount||Type|
|NatureMade Prenatal Multi + DHA:||6 mg||(d-calcium pantothenate)|
|FullWell Prenatal:||150 mg||(d-calcium pantothenate)|
|Seeking Health: Optimal Prenatal:||150 mg||(d-calcium pantothenate)|
|Perelel: Conception Support and All Trimesters Pack:||6 mg||(d-calcium pantothenate)|
Best Foods With Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) During Pregnancy
This vitamin is hard to miss! It is found in many foods and deficiency is rare. Below is a list of common foods that are high in vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid):
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grains
- Dairy products
How Much Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) Should I Take?
Sufficient levels of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) intake are defined as adequate intake (AI) rather than a recommended dietary intake (RDA). This is due to insufficient evidence to establish recommendations that meet 97-98% of the healthy population's needs. Although concrete evidence is lacking, these recommendations are still very important and backed by science.
A healthy woman is recommended to intake 5 mg, pregnant women are recommended to intake 6 mg, and lactating women are recommended to intake 7 mg of pantothenic acid per day.
This slight increase in recommendations per life stage is due to the energy needs of mom and baby. Since vitamin B5 is so essential for energy metabolism, a higher recommended intake is needed to support the optimization of health for both mom and baby. This elevated intake is easily achieved as your caloric intake increases so it is not difficult to maintain adequate intake.
How Much is Too Much Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)?
At this time, no tolerable upper level has been reported. It is unlikely that you will experience excessive amounts of vitamin B5 unless over-dosing in supplementation. This is because it is a water-soluble vitamin, so the excess is mostly excreted out through urine.
Although symptoms are uncommon, excessive amounts of B5 are associated with an increased risk of diarrhea, nausea, heartburn, and bleeding.
Remember, dietary supplements are not heavily regulated, so there is an increased risk of tainted products with heavy metals and fillers. Do your research, and consult a professional before purchasing products to reduce risks!
What Happens If I Don’t Have Enough Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)?
Pantothenic acid deficiency typically occurs simultaneously with other B vitamin deficiencies. This means it is difficult to detect. There is an increased risk of deficiency for those who are malnourished or do not consume meat and dairy products.
Another high-risk population for B5 deficiency is those with a certain genetic mutation of the pantothenate kinase 2 (PANK2) gene. This mutation reduces the activity of pantothenate kinase 2 which can decrease the conversion of pantothenic acid to coenzyme A (CoA). CoA is one of the most important enzymes for the cellular metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids, the oxidation of fatty acids and pyruvate, and the expression of genes.
Symptoms of deficiency include:
- GI distress
- Muscle cramps
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is an essential water-soluble B vitamin, found abundantly in your diet. Like many of the other B vitamins, this nutrient plays a key role in energy metabolism. It is essential for the synthesis of coenzyme A, which is involved in the metabolism of all macronutrients, and also plays a key role in gene expression.
Research finds vitamin B5 can reduce the risk of preeclampsia, low birth weight, and early labor during pregnancy by its ability to regulate stress-related hormones such as cortisol from the adrenal glands. Although recommended intake increases during pregnancy, it is not difficult to achieve adequate levels!
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- Fu Z mei, Ma Z zhi, Liu G jie, Wang L ling, Guo Y. Vitamins supplementation affects the onset of preeclampsia. J Formos Med Assoc. 2018;117(1):6-13. doi:10.1016/j.jfma.2017.08.005
- Oh C, Keats EC, Bhutta ZA. Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation During Pregnancy on Maternal, Birth, Child Health and Development Outcomes in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2020;12(2):491. Published 2020 Feb 14. doi:10.3390/nu12020491
- Sanvictores T, Chauhan S. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) [Updated 2022 Apr 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563233/
- Song WO, Wyse BW, Hansen RG. Pantothenic acid status of pregnant and lactating women. J Am Diet Assoc. 1985 Feb;85(2):192-8. PMID: 3968356.