Your diet consists not only of vitamins, but also provitamins, which are substances the body converts to bioactive forms of vitamins. Panthenol is the provitamin of B-5, or pantothenic acid. When you consume this provitamin, your body quickly converts it to pantothenic acid and coenzyme forms of B-5 like pantethine, according to the book "Biosynthesis of Vitamins in Plants" compiled by researcher Fabrice Rebeille. The nutritional benefits of panthenol come from its conversion to pantothenic acid and related substances.
Keeps Skin Healthy
Pantothenic acid is essential to skin health -- so much so that panthenol is a common ingredient in topical skin care products marketed for wound healing and wrinkle prevention. However, research showing that taking panthenol works for this purpose is lacking. Animal data suggest that taking pantothenic acid or its related substances may speed wound healing, according to Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute, but the few human studies available provide conflicting results.
Serves as a Coenzyme
As a component of coenzyme A, pantothenic acid helps the body produce energy from the macronutrients protein, fat and carbohydrates in the diet. Coenzyme A is also necessary for the body to produce essential fats, cholesterol, certain brain chemicals and steroid hormones. It also makes it possible for the body to produce an oxygen carrying protein in the blood called hemoglobin, and it plays a role in a number of other actions, like enabling the breakdown of drugs and toxins in the liver.
May Lower Cholesterol
As a provitamin, the body converts panthenol into related substances such as pantethine, which research suggests may help lower cholesterol. A study found that taking pantethine as a dietary supplement has a favorable influence on lipids in adults with low-to-moderate heart disease risk. The study involved 120 volunteers who took pantethine for 16 weeks. Authors report this lowered triglycerides and bad cholesterol above dietary changes alone. The study was published in the August 2011 issue of the journal Nutrition Research.
Various foods contain either panthenol or pantothenic acid. Some of the richest sources of panthenol are mushrooms, beans and other legumes, avocados, sunflower seeds and sweet potatoes. Pantothenic acid itself is found in foods like eggs, fish, poultry, milk, yogurt and whole-wheat bread. A recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B-5 has not been set; however, an adequate intake for ages 19 and older is 5 milligrams per day. Deficiency is uncommon. As long as you eat a varied diet you should have no problem getting enough vitamin B-5.