"The Professional Guide to Diseases" conservatively estimated that at least 70 million Americans suffer from allergies, which is more than ever before. Allergy symptoms vary in type and degree, but usually involve the sinuses and nasal passages. There is growing anecdotal evidence that mega-dosing pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, can reduce the symptoms of allergic reactions, according to "Nutrition and Public Health." Severe allergies can compromise breathing and be life threatening, so consulting your primary care physician before starting any supplements is recommended.
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An allergic reaction is a chemical response to a normally harmless substance, such as pollen, dust, mold or animal dander. The body inappropriately sends antibodies to mast cells within mucous membranes, which burst and release histamine. Histamine causes nearly all the symptoms associated with allergies, such as clogged sinuses, runny nose and watering eyes. The symptoms can range from mildly irritating to medically serious, and from temporary to chronic. Antihistamines are the medicine of choice, but they can cause side effects. Pantothenic acid has far fewer side effects and may be as effective.
Pantothenic acid is needed to make coenzyme-A, which is necessary for certain chemical reactions to generate energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Coenzyme-A is also used during the production of cholesterol, hemoglobin, brain chemicals and hormones, especially from the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands, which sit atop the kidneys, are particularly relevant to allergic reactions because they secrete the hormones during an immune response, such as cortisone. Cortisone is the primary hormone in preventing the release of histamine and allergic symptoms. According to “Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition,” the single most important nutrient for adrenal gland function is pantothenic acid; insufficient levels of pantothenic acid reduce the necessary amounts of cortisone from being secreted.
Effects on Allergy Symptoms
Anecdotal reports claim that pantothenic acid supplements are effective at quickly reducing allergic reactions, especially runny and stuffy noses, as cited in “Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health.” Dosages taken are usually between 100 mg and 500 mg daily, although it has been noted that too much pantothenic acid may actually dry-out nasal passages. Pantothenic acid has not been scientifically studied as an allergy remedy within people so comparisons with antihistamine medication are impossible to state.
Recommendations and Sources
Deficiency of pantothenic acid is considered very rare so no required daily allowance levels have been established. Nevertheless, adequate intake is considered to be about 5 mg daily for adults. It's possible that allergies are a misunderstood deficiency symptom of pantothenic acid, although more studies are needed. Good food sources include organ meats, fatty fish, shellfish, yeast, egg yolks, avocado, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms and dairy products, as cited in the “American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.”