Pantothenic acid is commonly known as vitamin B5 and is one of eight different B vitamins. Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that helps to convert carbohydrates into fuel inside the body and produce energy. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, and any extra water-soluble vitamins inside the body that are not used are excreted through the urine. For this reason, pantothenic acid must be replaced on a daily basis through food or through taking supplements.
All of the B vitamins combined are often referred to as B complex vitamins. These B vitamins are used to metabolize protein and fats within the body. B complex vitamins are essential for healthy hair, skin, eyes and liver and encourage proper function of the nervous system.
Pantothenic acid is essential to the body in its own way. It manufactures red blood cells and sex-related and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands. It sometimes is considered the "anti-stress" vitamin because of its effect on the adrenal glands. Pantothenic acid also helps the body maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Pantothenic acid contains a derivative called pantethine. Pantethine is thought to lower high levels of triglycerides for people with high cholesterol. Some studies have proven that pantothenic acid lowers bad cholesterol while raising levels of good cholesterol, and other studies have shown that it helps wounds heal faster. A deficiency in pantothenic acid can warrant signs of fatigue in a person, along with a feeling of weakness.
Fresh meats, whole grains and vegetables contain higher levels of this powerful B vitamin than canned, processed or frozen food. Often times this vitamin is lost when the food processing begins. Foods that include good sources of pantothenic acid are brewer's yeast, cauliflower, broccoli, avocados, corn, kale, legumes and lentils. Foods high in protein such as beef liver, turkey, chicken, duck, lobster, salmon, milk, peanuts and soybeans also contain high levels of pantothenic acid. Whole grain breads and cereals are great sources as well.
Supplements for this vitamin can be taken in pill form. Sometimes adding pantothenic acid supplements to your daily routine can cause side effects with various medications. Pantothenic acid can interfere with the effectiveness of an antibiotic called tetracycline. It can increase the effects of cholinesterase inhibitors, which are a type of medication taken by those with Alzheimer's disease. As with any supplement, you should consult your physician beforehand to avoid any possible side effects.