Pantothenic Acid

Pantothenic acid


Adequate intake (mg/day)

Children 0-6 mos.


Children 7-12 mos.


Children 1-3 yrs.


Children 4-8 yrs.


Children 9-13 yrs.


Children 14-18 yrs.


Adults 19 ≥ yrs.


Pregnant women


Breastfeeding women



Pantothenic acid (mg)

Liver, beef, cooked, 3.5 oz.


Sunflower seeds, roasted, ¼ cup


Salmon, baked, ½ fillet


Mushrooms, white, cooked, ½ cup


Sweet potato, baked, 1 whole


Milk, nonfat, 1 cup


Egg, cooked, 1 large


Corn, canned, ½ cup


Turkey, roasted ½ cup


Cottage cheese, ½ cup


Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup


Tuna, canned in water, 3 oz.


Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice


mg = milligram

SOURCE: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. “Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids.” Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2000. (accessed April 2, 2018).


Foods highest in pantothenic acid.

Foods highest in pantothenic acid.
(Tatjana Baibakova/Alamy Stock Photo)


Pantothenic acid is essential to all cells. It helps regulate the chemical reactions that produce energy from the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. It is also involved in the synthesis of cholesterol, some fatty acids, and some steroid hormones.


Pantothenic acid was discovered in 1936 and soon afterward was recognized as a vitamin essential to growth. Pantothenic acid is found in all living things. Its name is derived from the Greek word “pantos,” which means “everywhere.”

Pantothenic acid joins with another molecule to form coenzyme A (CoA). Coenzymes are small molecules that regulate enzyme reactions. CoA is involved in many essential metabolic reactions that produce energy and synthesize new molecules. Without pantothenic acid, there would be no CoA, and life would cease. Some of the activities that require CoA, and thus indirectly pantothenic acid, include:

B-complex vitamins—
A group of water-soluble vitamins that often work together in the body. These include thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7 or vitamin H), folate/folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12).
Also called a cofactor, a small nonproteinmolecule that binds to an enzyme and catalyzes (stimulates) enzyme-mediated reactions.
Dietary supplement—
A product, such as a vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or enzyme, that is intended to be consumed in addition to an individual's diet with the expectation that it will improve health.
A protein that changes the rate of a chemical reaction within the body without being depleted in the reaction.
Fatty acids—
Complex molecules found in fats and oils. Essential fatty acids are fatty acids that the body needs but cannot synthesize. Essential fatty acids are made by plants and must be present in the diet to maintain health.
A chemical messenger produced by the body that is involved in regulating specific bodily functions such as growth, development, reproduction, metabolism, and mood.
One of a group of chemicals secreted by a nerve cell (neuron) to carry a chemical message to another nerve cell, often as a way of transmitting a nerve impulse. Examples of neurotransmitters include acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
A family of compounds that share a similar chemical structure. This family includes the hormones estrogen and testosterone, vitamin D, cholesterol, and the drugs cortisone and prednisone.
A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to remain healthy but that the body cannot manufacture for itself and must acquire through diet.
Water-soluble vitamin—
A vitamin that dissolves in water and can be removed from the body in urine.
Normal pantothenic acid requirements

The United States Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences has developed values called dietary reference intakes (DRIs) for vitamins and minerals. The DRIs consist of three sets of numbers. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) defines the average daily amount of the nutrient needed to meet the health needs of 97%–98% of the population. The adequate intake (AI) is an estimate set when there is not enough information to determine an RDA. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) is the average maximum amount that can be taken daily without risking negative side effects. The DRIs are calculated for children, adult men, adult women, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women.

The IOM has not set RDA values for pantothenic acid because of incomplete scientific information. Instead, it has set AI levels for all age groups. AI levels for pantothenic acid are measured by weight (milligrams or mg). No UL levels have been set for this vitamin because large doses of pantothenic acid do not appear to cause any side effects.

The following are the daily AIs of pantothenic acid for healthy individuals:

Sources of pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid is found in small quantities in a wide variety of foods. Good sources include liver, kidney, fish, shellfish, egg yolk, broccoli, lentils, and mushrooms. Pantothenic acid is unstable. Much of it is lost during cooking, canning, freezing, and processing. Frozen meats and processed grains, for example, can lose up to half their pantothenic acid content.


The following list gives the approximate pantothenic acid content of some common foods:

Pantothenic acid deficiency

Pantothenic acid deficiency is so rare that it has only been seen in humans in severely malnourished prisoners of war in Asia after World War II and in research volunteers who were given a pantothenic-free diet. The main symptoms these groups experienced were burning, tingling, and numbness in the feet and fatigue. This symptoms disappeared when pantothenic acid was added to their diet.


Large doses of pantothenic acid taken over a long period are well tolerated. The only negative side effect reported is mild diarrhea.


There are no known interactions between pantothenic acid and drugs or herbal supplements. Using oral contraceptives may mildly increase the body's need for pantothenic acid.


No complications are expected related to pantothenic acid. Deficiency occurs only with severe starvation. Excess intake is well tolerated.

Parental concerns

Parents should have few concerns about pantothenic acid. Healthy children get enough of this vitamin in their diet and are unlikely to need or benefit from supplementation.



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Lieberman, Shari, and Nancy Bruning. The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book: The Definitive Guide to Designing Your Personal Supplement Program. 4th ed. New York: Avery, 2007.

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Higdon, Jane, Victoria J. Drake, and Barbara Delage. “Pantothenic Acid.” Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. (accessed April 15, 2018).

MedlinePlus. “Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5).” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. (accessed April 15, 2018).

U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library. “DRI Tables and Application Reports.” Food and Nutrition Information Center. (accessed March 15, 2018).


Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC, 20001, (202) 334-2352,, .

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD, 20993-0002, (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332), .

Tish Davidson, AM

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.