B5 Deficiencies


Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid and “the anti-stress” vitamin, is necessary for metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. According to the National Institutes of Health, traditional and scientific data reveal that vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid has been used for skin disorders, Alzheimers, asthma, depression and anxiety, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, infection prevention and Parkinson’s. However, more scientific study is needed to establish the safety and efficacy of B5 or pantothenic acid supplementation.

Good Sources

According to the Mayo Clinic, “no problems have been found that are due to a lack of pantothenic acid alone.” Vitamin B5 deficiencies may, however, be a part of B complex vitamin deficiencies. B5 is readily found in food sources, and the need for supplementation is rare. The best sources of B5 include red meats, especially organ meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, yeast, vegetables and legumes, eggs and milk. Vitamin B5 is highest in unprocessed foods that have not been refined, cooked or frozen. Care should be taken to include a variety of foods and fresh vegetables for promotion of good nutrition.


B5 or pantothenic acid deficiency is rare, as it is easily found in a variety of common foods. It is seen primarily in people with malnutrition, and in patients receiving intravenous nutrition and tube feedings, and supplementation is important in such cases. In some cases, severe burns may cause a deficiency in vitamin B5 due to increased metabolic needs and loss of nutrients. According to the University of Maryland, a 1980 study of people living with rheumatoid arthritis found that those with the most severe pain and stiffness also had the lowest blood levels of B5.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiencies include difficulty sleeping, fatigue, depression or irritability, gastric symptoms such as stomach pains and vomiting, burning feet and frequent upper respiratory infections.

Expert Insight

According to the University of Maryland, B5 is essential to the production of red blood cells (RBCs), and sex and stress related hormones, as well as a healthy digestive tract and helping the body utilize vitamin B2 and riboflavin.


Though there is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA), the University of Maryland recommends from 1.7mg per day for infants, up to 5mg per day for adults. Additionally, large doses, up to 2,000mg per day, have been helpful in treating people living with rheumatoid arthritis; 900mg per day is recommended in treating high cholesterol and triglycerides.

About this Author

Adele M. Gill is a freelance writer living in Fallston, Md. Her 25-plus years of writing include two motivational books, “Patient Persistence,” and her soon-to-be-published work, “7 Pathways to Hope.” Gill is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Nursing.