Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is a vitamin commonly found in animals and plants, as well as in supplemental form. Common foods with pantothenic acid include eggs, milk, grains and vegetables. Vitamin B5 helps the body use lipids, carbohydrates and proteins properly and helps maintain healthy skin. Using oral supplementation may help treat conditions, such as nerve pain, premenstrual syndrome and forms of arthritis. The body excretes the water-soluble vitamin through urine; few adverse reactions occur when taking supplemental pantothenic acid.
The recommended dosage of supplemental pantothenic acid for adults is 5 mg daily. Taking dosage amounts of vitamin B5 exceeding the recommended dose may increase the risk of developing diarrhea. The diarrhea may occur because pantothenic acid may increase the motility of the intestinal tract. Taking pantothenic acid with an intestinal or stomach blockage may worsen the condition.
Individuals with a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia, may experience and increased risk of bleeding after taking supplemental forms of pantothenic acid.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Risk
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need vitamin B5, but the dosage should not exceed 7 mg each day. Taking larger amounts of pantothenic acid may cause harm to the developing baby, and studies cannot prove the safety of a large dose.
Individuals may use pantothenic acid on the skin to help prevent skin reactions associated with radiation therapy. A derivative of pantothenic acid is dexpanthenol, and this product may help treat skin conditions, such as insect bites, itching, acne and poison ivy. Application of pantothenic acid on the skin may cause a skin irritation called contact dermatitis. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include redness, itching, blisters, pain and dry patches on the skin.
Some individuals may experience an allergy to pantothenic acid. Signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or airway, hives and an increased heart rate. An allergic reaction is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention to prevent possible life-threatening complications.