What is Vitamin B5 Deficiency?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Vitamin B5 deficiency is a somewhat controversial topic. People searching for this on the Internet will find many articles that are usually linked to sales sites that suggest routine deficiency of this vitamin, causing conditions that range from acne to depression and so on. While low amounts of this vitamin are occasionally noted, it should be mentioned that true vitamin B5 deficiency is very rare. It should also be stated that there is usually no harm in taking this form of B or pantothenic acid as a supplement, but that it is not always necessary.

Vitamin B5 is found in oranges and bananas.
Vitamin B5 is found in oranges and bananas.

In those cases where vitamin B5 deficiency has truly been observed, the condition was often induced via starvation or extremely strict dietary measures. Symptoms of this condition are typically tiredness, fatigue or lethargy. Some symptoms of depression have been noted too.

Vitamin B5 may be found in fruits, such as bananas.
Vitamin B5 may be found in fruits, such as bananas.

Often the only time medical evidence suggests deficiency might occur outside of these extreme circumstances, is if people are not taking in food and suffer from conditions like anorexia or all very malnourished. It’s been suggested that other causes of vitamin B5 deficiency could include smoking or heavy drinking, and that occasionally low levels of pantothenic acid are also linked to use of hormonal birth control, particularly in women who are older than 35. Even with any or all of these behaviors, a deficiency may not be found.

Vitamin B5 is found in many foods, including fish.
Vitamin B5 is found in many foods, including fish.

One of the reasons for this is due to the many sources of this water-soluble vitamin. It is found in cereal grains, green vegetables, most meat and fish, and in common fruits like oranges and bananas. There is also some suggestion that the human body may make some vitamin B5, which could provide a ready supply if food intake isn’t enough. For most people, eating a diet that either has strong protein elements or that relies principally on grains, which might describe meat eater or vegetarian tendencies, is likely to provide adequate levels of the vitamin.

A vitamin B5 deficiency can result in fatigue and lethargy.
A vitamin B5 deficiency can result in fatigue and lethargy.

Though rare, vitamin B5 deficiency shouldn’t necessarily be overlooked as a potential issue, particularly if any of the aforementioned risk factors are present, or symptoms occur that seem in keeping with low pantothenic acid. Actually, these symptoms are fairly similar if other B vitamins are low too, and deficiencies of other types of B vitamins may be more common. If a person suspects a vitamin B5 deficiency, it’s certainly worth discussing the matter with a physician, who could confirm this by blood test and look for other causal factors of present symptoms, such as low levels of other B vitamins.

B-complex vitamin supplements contain vitamin B5.
B-complex vitamin supplements contain vitamin B5.
People who are chronically deficient in vitamin B5 may become depressed.
People who are chronically deficient in vitamin B5 may become depressed.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

bluedolphin

@donasmrs-- Do you get numbness, tingling or burning in your hands of feet? These are signs of a vitamin B5 deficiency.

SteamLouis

@donasmrs-- I think it's a good idea for you to supplement with vitamin B5. You are not eating regularly and might not be getting enough of the vitamin. And it will also be difficult for you to notice vitamin B5 deficiency symptoms because fasting causes fatigue as well.

You have to check the label of the specific supplement to see if it has vitamin B5. But a B complex supplement will usually have a lower dose of vitamin B5 than a supplement that only contains it.

donasmrs

Does a vitamin B complex supplement contain vitamin B5? Will this be enough to avoid a deficiency?

I often do a water fast for religious reasons and detoxification and I want to avoid any deficiencies.

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