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Pantothenic Acid

Pantothenic Acid


Pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5) is a heat-labile, water-soluble vitamin vital to all the energy requiring processes of the body because it is the precursor of coenzyme A (CoA).

Because it is heat-labile, it is readily destroyed by cooking with dry heat, such as occurs in canning. Canning destroys 20-35% of the vitamin in animal sources, and 46-78% of the vitamin found in plant foods. Grain loses 50% of its pantothenic acid content during milling.

Pantothenic acid is found in all naturally-occurring foods.

Method of Action

Pantothenic acid is a simple chemical which contains alanine. In the body, it couples with a sulfur-containing compound to form pantothenine. The addition of a phosphate group and an adenine molecule results in the formation of coenzyme A (CoA).

Pantothenic acid, by virtue of being the precursor of CoA, is directly involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids, and plays a role in all the energy-requiring processes of the body.

Pantothenic acid makes possible the biosynthesis of fatty acids, phospholipids, cholesterol, and steroid hormones. A deficiency may cause adrenal cortex insufficiency or even necrosis.

Pantothenic acid, through CoA, fuels the metabolism of porphyrin and therefore controls the formation of hemoglobin.

Pantothenic acid is responsible for the production of isoprene units, the basic building blocks of fat-soluble vitamins.

The synthesis of niacin from its precursor tryptophan is facilitated by pantothenic acid in conjunction with biotin.

Properties & Uses

Pantothenic acid reverses the graying of hair in rats and dogs. It does not, however, correct graying in human beings.

Pantothenic acid can be administered after surgery to correct residual paralysis of the gastrointestinal tract. This treatment is effective because the vitamin appears to stimulate gastric motility. The patient must be carefully monitored because high levels (10 to 20 grams) cause diarrhea.

Consequence of Deficiency

The following symptoms have been associated with Pantothenic acid deficiency in animal models:

Dermatitis - chick
Graying of the hair - rat
Adrenal gland necrosis - rat
Bloody whiskers - rat
Baldness - mice

There have been no reports of spontaneous, uncomplicated deficiency diseases for humans. This is not surprising given its widespread availability in naturally-occurring foods, and possible synthesis by intestinal bacteria.

Experimental deficiencies have been produced in humans. The following symptoms were exhibited by various subjects:

Personality changes
Leg cramps
Tingling of the hands and feet
Abdominal discomfort
Increased susceptibility to infection

Toxicity Factors

Pantothenic acid is thought to be nontoxic because excessive dosages produce no known serious effects. This vitamin does, however, stimulate gastric hypermotility at dosages of 10 to 20 grams, producing diarrhea.

Recommended Dietary Allowance

Lactating and pregnant women may require more than the standard 4 to 7 milligrams of pantothenic acid per day.

For over thirty years, Recommended Daily Amounts has existed in the United Kingdom. It has been used to measure the adequacy of an individual's diet. However, in 1991 the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) gave forth a whole new set of figures upon the request of the Department of Health's Chief Medical Officer. Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is one of these sets collectively known as "Dietary Reference Values." RNI is an amount of a nutrient that is enough for almost every individuals, even someone who has high needs for the nutrient. This level of intake is, therefore, considerably higher than what most people would need. If individuals are consuming the RNI of a nutrient they are most unlikely to be deficient in that nutrient.

There is no specific recommendation by COMA 1991. An adequate intake of Pantothenic Acid is thought to be 3 - 7 mg a day. An adequate content for infants formula is approximately 2 mg per liter (1.75 mg per day).

Food Sources

Pantothenic acid is found in all naturally-occurring foods.

High: (2.0 - 10.0 mg/100 g)

Beef brainEgg yolk
Beef heartLamb kidney
Beef liverLamb liver
Beef kidneyLiverwurst
Bran flakePeanuts
Brewer's yeastPork kidney
Chicken liverPork liver
Green peas (dried)Royal jelly
Wheat germ

Medium: (0.5 - 2.0 mg/100 g)

BeefLima beans
Carrots Mushrooms
CauliflowerOat flakes
Green peasWalnuts

Low: (0.1 - 0.5 mg/100 g)

BananasOrange juice
Kidney beansPineapples
LettuceSweet potatoes



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