Pantethine is a derivative of pantothenic acid. Both are also sold as dietary supplements. Pantothenic acid is more formally known as one of the B vitamins, which help your body get energy from the foods you eat. Pantethine isn't a vitamin, but it has proven useful in lowering blood lipids.
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Pantothenic acid is better known as vitamin B-5. It's one of the eight components of the B complex of vitamins, all of which help your body release energy from foods. Pantothenic acid comes from animal products, including meat, eggs and milk. Plants such as legumes and green leafy vegetables also have it. Your body uses pantothenic acid to make proteins, hormones and red blood cells, as well as a neurotransmitter. The bacteria in your colon also makes pantothenic acid, but scientists don't know whether people absorb their own self-made pantothenic acid in appreciable amounts.
Pantethine is a derivative of pantothenic acid. The conversion takes place inside your body as you metabolize pantothenic acid. Pantethine is formed by two molecules of pantethine fused together by a chemical bond made of sulfur. Pantethine is not a vitamin.
You can buy pantothenic acid and pantethine as dietary supplements. According to NYU's Langone Medical Center, pantothenic acid has been suggested as an aid in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, for sports performance enhancement and in fighting stress. The list of suggested uses is even longer, according to MedlinePlus. The vitamin has been used to treat acne, alcoholism, allergies, autism, dandruff, yeast infections, heart failure, diabetic nerve pain, gray hair, insomnia and obesity, as well as myriad other health problems. However, the only known effective use for pantothenic acid supplements is to treat a deficiency in pantothenic acid. Pantethine, on the other hand, can lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
After age 14, most people need 5 milligrams of pantothenic acid daily, according to the Institute of Medicine. Because pantethine is not a vitamin, there's no established recommended dietary allowance. In studies on lowering cholesterol, participants took 900 milligrams daily in three 300 milligram doses. You should talk with your doctor about the benefits of taking pantethine for cholesterol and triglycerides and get advice about how much, if any, you should take.