Pantothenic Acid Foods (Vitamin B5): A Practical Guide

What are the health benefits of vitamin B5? 

Vitamin B5 (aka pantothenic acid) has many functions and benefits in your body, including helping to make your blood cells and convert your food into energy.   

Pantothenic acid acts in all your cells but is particularly vital for your brain, heart, kidney and liver.  

We need about 20% more vitamin B5 to burn fat compared to carbohydrates.  

“Pantothenic” originates from the Greek root pantothen which means ‘from all sides’ because vitamin B5 is in all foods.  

While it may be beneficial to get more, unless you are starving, it’s hard to be deficient in pantothenic acid.  

Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) deficiency symptoms

Lower intakes of vitamin B5 are associated with:

Benefits of Vitamin B5 for your skin

Vitamin B5 helps keep skin soft, smooth and healthy by helping to make the mucus that moistens your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, genitals, and internal organs.  Pantothenic acid also has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps stimulate your skin’s healing processes.  

Vitamin B5 benefits for hair

Mice fed a low pantothenic acid diet have been seen to develop skin irritation and greying of the fur, which can be reversed by supplemental doses of pantothenic acid.  However, in humans, there is no evidence that taking pantothenic acid as supplements or using shampoos containing pantothenic acid can prevent greying or restore hair colour.

Satiety response to vitamin B5

Our satiety analysis shows that foods with more pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) tend to be more satiating, particularly up until around 15 mg/2000 calories.  

The average intake of Optimisers is 11mg/2000 calories with an 85th percentile intake of 18 mg/2000 calories.  

Adequate Intake 

The Adequate Intake for men is 6.0 mg per day and 4.0 mg per day for women.  

Pregnant women are advised to consume at least 5 mg/day of vitamin B5 as the body will direct a large amount of B5 to the foetus, even if the mother is deficient.  

Lactating women are advised to consume at last 6mg/day as the mother will channel around 2 mg/day into her breast milk.

Side effects and toxicity for Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid is not known to be toxic in humans, although very high amounts in supplemental form can cause diarrhea.  Large supplemental doses of vitamin B5 can compete for absorption with biotin.  

Stretch target for pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)

Based on our satiety analysis, we recommend a stretch target for vitamin B5 of 15 mg/day for men and 12 mg/day for women if you want to optimise your nutrition.  

nutrient averageAI stretch (men)stretch (women)
pantothenic acid (B5) (mg)1151210

Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) rich food sources 


  • cauliflower 
  • cucumber
  • broccoli  
  • asparagus  
  • zucchini
  • parsley
  • sweet potato  


  • liver
  • egg
  • milk  
  • cheese


  • salmon
  • shrimp

Bioavailability of vitamin B5

Between 40 to 60% of the vitamin B5 is absorbed in your gut.  Someone with poor digestion may extract even less.  Alcohol inhibits the activation of vitamin B5 and prevents us from using it properly.  

Synergistic nutrients 

Vitamin B5 works synergistically with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B12, C, biotin, chromium, cysteine, folate, glycine, methionine, phosphate, sodium, potassium and zinc.  

Processing losses 

Vitamin B5 is unstable in the presence of heat, alkaline and acidic environments.  

A considerable amount of vitamin B5 is also lost in the milling of grains.  Hence, refined grains will have less vitamin B5.  

Frozen vegetables contain 50% less B5, cooked vegetables 44% less, and canned vegetables up to 75% less B5 than in their raw form.  

Oral contraceptives with estrogen and progesterone may increase the need for pantothenic acid.  

Nutrient profile 

The nutrient fingerprint chart below shows that we can obtain plenty of vitamin B5 from a nutrient-dense diet.  However, it is harder to find in large quantities. A diet with more vitamin B5 will have a significant amount of protein and carbs.  

Nutritious foods and meals to boost your vitamin B5

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of low vitamin B5 or are concerned that your current vitamin B5 intake is low (e.g. due to a processed grain-based diet), then you may be interested in our lists of vitamin B5-rich foods and meals. 

What you will get:

  • Our Nutritional Optimisation Kickstart Guide. 
  • A list of the most popular 50 foods that contain more vitamin B5.
  • A list of 100 popular foods that contain vitamin B5, 
  • An even longer list of 150 common foods that contain more vitamin B5 to allow you to expand your nutrient-dense repertoire further, and 
  • An index of 150 nutrient-dense recipes that contain more vitamin B5.  

Marty Kendall