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Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin
B5, is essential and found throughout living cells in the
form of coenzyme A (CoA), a vital coenzyme in numerous chemical
reactions. CoA is required for chemical reactions that generate
energy from food (fat, carbohydrates, and proteins). The
synthesis of essential fats, cholesterol, and steroid hormones
requires CoA. Metabolism of a number of drugs and toxins
by the liver requires CoA.
Pantothenic acid is available in a variety of foods
such as liver and kidney, yeast, egg yolk, broccoli, fish,
shellfish, chicken, milk, yogurt, legumes, mushrooms, avocado,
and sweet potatoes are all good sources. Whole grains are
good sources of Pantothenic acid, but processing and refining
grains may result in a 35% to 75% loss. Freezing and canning
of foods have been found to result in similar losses.
Naturally occurring Pantothenic acid deficiency in humans
is extremely rare and has been observed only in cases of
severe malnutrition. World War II prisoners in the Philippines,
Burma, and Japan experienced numbness and painful burning
and tingling in their feet, which was relieved through Pantothenic
acid use. Because it is so rare, most information regarding
the effects of Pantothenic acid deficiency comes from experimental
research in animals.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine
felt the existing scientific evidence was insufficient to
calculate a RDA for Pantothenic acid, so they set an Adequate
Intake level (AI). The AI for Pantothenic acid was based
on estimated dietary intakes in healthy population groups
and is set at 5 mg of Pantothenic acid per day. The only
adverse effect noted was diarrhea resulting from very high
intakes of 10 to 20 grams/day of calcium D-pantothenate.
Oral contraceptives containing estrogen and progestin may
increase the requirement for Pantothenic acid.
If it occurs naturally in our bodies and rarely is there
a case of Pantothenic deficiency so there should be no reason
why a person would want to supplement with Pantothenic.
Beyond that, there is nothing in the scientific data that
supports the use of Pantothenic acid in weight loss.