Pantothenic acid, more commonly known as vitamin B-5, is part of the B vitamin complex that also includes niacin, riboflavin and pyridoxine. This vitamin serves several important functions in the body -- it aids in the metabolism of nutrients, supports adrenal health and maintains nervous system function. Deficiencies of pantothenic acid are rare; however, a lack of this vitamin in your body may cause several symptoms.
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One of the primary functions of pantothenic acid is to enhance the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates from food sources. Carbohydrates and proteins serve as energy sources for physical activity and optimal cognitive function, A deficiency of pantothenic acid may limit your body's ability to use these nutrients as fuel sources, which may contribute to fatigue.
Pantothenic acid may help lower low-density lipoproteins, which are components of cholesterol that contribute to fatty deposits in your circulatory system. This vitamin may also raise high-density lipoproteins, which may help clear artery clogging fats from your bloodstream. This may help manage blood pressure and may help prevent strokes and coronary artery disease.
Pantothenic acid is known as an anti-stress vitamin. It may help encourage the production of dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitter chemicals that regulate mood and reduce anxiety and stress. A deficiency of pantothenic acid may contribute to reduced levels of these neurotransmitters, which may facilitate chronic anxiety and depression.
Increasing your intake of several common foods can help prevent or correct a deficiency of pantothenic acid. Avocados and eggs are among the richest sources of this vitamin. Other abundant sources of pantothenic acid include beef, pork, lentils, black beans, whole wheat breads, mushrooms, walnuts and shellfish.