The B vitamins have been referred to for years as "anti-stress" vitamins. While vitamin B5 can't stop stress, it is involved in the production of stress hormones and may also have a protective effect against effects of stress. More research needs to be done to determine the effects of vitamin B5 on the body's response to stress.
Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is a water-soluble B vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins can't be stored, so you need a continuous supply. B vitamins help the body metabolize fats and protein, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. They are required for healthy skin, hair and eyes and normal function of the liver and nervous system. Vitamin B5 is needed for the the production of red blood cells, maintaining a healthy digestive track, and helping the body use other vitamins. It is also critical to the production of stress related hormones.
The body's adrenal glands produce hormones, including sex and stress hormones. Low adrenal function can cause fatigue, recurrent infections, difficulty shaking off infections, low blood pressure and dizziness upon standing, achiness, poor response to stress and hypoglycemia, according to "Psychology Today." Adrenal insufficiency can be caused by excess stress, excess caffeine or nutritional deficiency. Vitamin B5 deficiency can contribute to low adrenal function.
The cortisol released during periods of stress robs the body of B vitamins, according to "Psychology Today." Vitamins are used up for functions like the tensing of muscles and the rise of blood pressure. Stress creates a need for vitamins to be replaced. However, cortisol stimulates desire for high-fat, high-calorie foods that are devoid of essential nutrients during times of stress.
Acute stress causes the release of the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine into the bloodstream. The adrenal cortex then releases excess cortisol into circulation. Adrenal cortex function may be compromised when vitamin B5 is deficient, according to a 1999 article published by Gregory S. Kelly in "Alternative Medicine Review." Administering panthethine, a form of vitamin B5, may enhance adrenal cortex function. Pantethine may be able to prevent excess cortisol secretion in high stress conditions, according to the same review.
According to "Psychology Today," B vitamins are found in bananas, fish, baked potatoes, avocados, chicken and dark green leafy veggies. Rich sources of vitamin B5 include liver and kidney, broccoli, yeast and egg yolk. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine set the adequate intake for vitamin B5 at 5 g per day for adults. In high doses, vitamin B5 is not known to be toxic in humans, although gastrointestinal side effects have been reported, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
- "Alternative Medicine Review": Nutritional and Botanical Interventions to Assist with the Adaptation to Stress; Gregory S. Kelly; 1999
- "Psychology Today"; Eat Right to Fight Stress
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
- "Psychology Today": Is Stress Exhausting Your Adrenal System?
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Pantothenic Acid