Pantothenic acid is one of a combination of vitamins known as B-complex vitamins, and is also known as B5. Pantothenic acid benefits include proper metabolization of proteins and fats, proper function of the nervous system, and maintenance of a healthy digestive system. Vitamin B5 is also important for healthy hair, skin, and eyes. Pantothenic acid is also an important part of the process of manufacturing red blood cells. Other pantothenic acid benefits include the synthesis of cholesterol, a possible reduction in triglycerides, and an increase in good cholesterol levels.
There is some evidence that there be other pantothenic acid benefits, as well, such as speeding wound healing. Another study suggested that pantothenic acid might have some relationship with rheumatoid arthritis. In the study, researchers found that individuals with rheumatoid arthritis had lower levels of vitamin B5 in their blood than healthy individuals. The study also found that among people with rheumatoid arthritis, those with the most severe symptoms had the lowest levels of pantothenic acid in their blood.
The many pantothenic acid benefits may make supplementing tempting; however, it is very rare to be deficient in vitamin B5. Pantothenic acid is available in many different foods, including fresh meats, milk, and unprocessed grains. Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that the body does not store excess, so there is little chance of overdosing on the vitamin. Taking high doses of pantothenic acid can lead to diarrhea and increase bleeding risk temporarily.
People who do not consume adequate levels of vitamin B5 will not enjoy pantothenic acid benefits, and may experience signs of deficiency. Symptoms of B5 deficiency include depression, fatigue, irritability, trouble sleeping, and susceptibility to upper respiratory infections. People who choose to supplement with pantothenic acid should take the vitamin with water, after eating. The different B-vitamins work together, so supplementing with only one can lead to an imbalance in the body. To avoid complications, it makes sense to supplement with B-complex vitamins rather than only pantothenic acid.
People recovering from alcoholism have trouble absorbing pantothenic acid, even when consumed in massive quantities. A program known as the Tully Hill protocol recommends supplementing with various amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, including pantothenic acid, to help the recovering alcoholic quit drinking. Medical professionals that support this protocol believe that pantothenic acid helps reduce cravings for alcohol and reduces the depression that often plagues recovering alcoholics.