Pantothenic Acid Requirements and Dietary Sources

Pantothenic acid is found in many foods.
Pantothenic acid is found in many foods. Carol Gering

Pantothenic acid is a member of the water-soluble family of B-complex vitamins -- sometimes called vitamin B-5. Like other B vitamins, your body uses pantothenic acid to break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins they can be utilized for energy or for rebuilding and maintaining muscles, organs and other parts of the body.

But that's not all it does. Pantothenic acid is needed for your body to make red blood cells and both sex and stress hormones.

It also helps keep your digestive tract healthy.

Since it's a water-soluble vitamin, your body doesn't store much, so pantothenic acid needs to be frequently replaced. But deficiencies are extremely rare because there's plenty in almost every diet.

Pantothenic acid is found in a wide variety of foods including organ meats, eggs, fish and shellfish, poultry, legumes, whole grains, dairy products, cruciferous vegetables, avocados, and mushrooms. 

The Health and Medicine Division of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has set the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for pantothenic acid based on the needs of the average healthy person. The reference intakes vary by age and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need a little more pantothenic acid. If you have any health problems or any other concerns, you may wish to speak to your health care provider about your specific dietary and nutritional needs.

Daily Reference Intakes

Age 0-6 months: 1.7 milligrams per day
Age 7-12 months: 1.8 milligrams per day
Age 1-3 years: 2 milligrams per day
Age 4-8 years: 3 milligrams per day
Age 9-13 years: 4 milligrams per day
Age 14 and older: 5 milligrams per day
Women who are pregnant: 6 milligrams per day
Women who are breastfeeding: 7 milligrams per day

Pantothenic acid is also commercially available as a dietary supplement, either alone or as part of B-complex or multiple vitamin formulations. Large doses of pantothenic acid have been used by people hoping to reduce stress, treat acne, allergies, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), burning feet syndrome,  and yeast infections among other things. But the research that's been done on pantothenic acid hasn't provided strong enough evidence for any recommendations to be made.

Since it's found in so many foods, there isn't any reason for taking it as a dietary supplement. Pantothenic acid deficiency appears to occur only when a person is suffering from malnutrition.

It's safe to take in large doses and the Institute of Medicine has not set a tolerable upper limit. Still, it's best to speak with your healthcare provider before taking dietary supplements, especially in large doses.


Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. "Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism." Sixth Edition. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2016.

Health and Medicine Division of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. "Dietary Reference Intakes Tables and Application." Accessed April 14, 2016.

University of Maryland Medical Center. "Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B-5)." April 14, 2016.

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