Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5) is required for the synthesis of certain steroids produced in the adrenal glands via the action of coenzyme A. The RDA for adults is 5mg but the optimal daily intake may be 100mg. The average intake of teenagers is about 5mg per day.
The best food sources are brewer's yeast, wheat germ, wheat bran, royal jelly, whole-grain breads and cereals, green vegetables, peas, beans, peanuts, crude molasses, liver and egg yolk. The highest levels are found in beef liver at 4.8mg per 3 ounces. Pantothenic acid supplementation is usually required for a desired therapeutic effect.
Pantothenic Acid is water-soluble and stable in moist heat, but unstable in dry heat and acid or basic pH situations. Little is lost during normal cooking but 50% loss occurs in vegetables when they are frozen and 65% when they are canned. In addition, processed and refined grains lose about 50%, while processed meats lose up to 70% of vitamin B5.
Pantothenic acid is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. It is stored in high amounts in the adrenal glands but about 70% of absorbed pantothenic acid is excreted in the urine. Before pantothenic acid is utilized it must first be converted to the sulfur-containing pantotheine. Pantotheine is currently fairly expensive and should be used only in select cases.
A serious deficiency of pantothenic acid is uncommon because of its wide distribution in foods. Experimentally-induced human vitamin B5 deficiency has caused insomnia, leg cramps, paresthesias of the hands and feet, mental depression, decreased antibody formation, easy fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbance, and upper respiratory infections.
It is hard to overdose on pantothenic acid. There is a lack of data regarding acute or chronic toxic effects of pantothenic acid compounds (calcium or sodium pantothenate, panthenol) at very high doses (approximately 10,000mg per day in some cases for a number of years), although such levels have been associated with diarrhea and gastrointestinal disturbances.