For week 6 of the 90-Day No Supplement Challenge getting vitamin B5 turned out to be no challenge at all. Turns out there are traces of B5 is everything from eggs to mushrooms to my favorite, avocado. Shitake mushrooms are the best source of vitamin B5.
Vitamin B5, like all of the others we’ve discussed so far, does some very cool things for the body. So cool, in fact that it has inspired the name of one of the early 2000s favorite hair care products – Pantene Pro V. Who wouldn’t want hair this shiny and beautiful? Silly question. We all want it and will do crazy things to get it. Brazilian blowouts when they were especially toxic? I joined every deal site from here to Orange County to get half priced hair treatments. Turns out all I may have needed was a little extra B5 in my diet.
Pantothentic acid, the technical name of vitamin B5 and the inspiration for the name Pantene, is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body break down fatty acids, amino acids, and carbohydrates, but also helps maintain healthy skin and hair too.
Vitamin B5 deficiencies are rare. As Catherine Price explains in her book Vitamania, ”No one yet understands how the body regulates its stores of pantothentic acid, but it seems like we may be able to somehow recycle it.”
Of the World’s Healthiest Foods website’s top 100 healthiest foods, 99 of them contain some amount of vitamin B5. With that said, if you’re eating well, and you can and should be in this day and age of farm fresh products, there’s absolutely no reason to take a supplement!
There weren’t many studies available regarding vitamin B5 supplementation and the human body, beyond those that mention multivitamin use in general. I found three notable ones however, one on autistic children, one on muscle fuel metabolism, and another on acne.
A recent study about autistic children and supplement use found that over 50% of autistic children reviewed took supplements. Interestingly, the authors found that, “The most common micronutrient deficits were not corrected (vitamin D, calcium, potassium, pantothenic acid, and choline) by supplements. [Furthermore], one-third of children remained deficient for vitamin D and up to 54% for calcium. Supplementation led to excess vitamin A, folate, and zinc intake across the sample, vitamin C, and copper among children aged 2 to 3 years, and manganese and copper for children aged 4 to 8 years.”
That’s one thing that’s standing out to me as I review the available research on supplement use, and food fortification and enrichment. We’re taking supplements by the handful, but somehow we’re still missing the mark in believing that synthetic vitamins will, A. make us healthier, or B. fill the gaps of our poor diets, or the poor diets of our children. Deficiencies remain, despite supplement use, and excess intakes, potentially dangerous ones, abound.
Exercise and Energy
Then there was an attempt by scientists to measure whether or not supplementing healthy male volunteers with vitamin B5 would improve muscle carbohydrate oxidation, aka energy. Their conclusion? “Acute feeding with pantothentic acid and cysteine [did not] have an impact on muscle fuel metabolism or performance during exercise in humans.” Now this was a small study, of only 8 volunteers, so by no means conclusive, BUT why dose yourself with B vitamins when there’s no conclusive proof that they’ll give you energy or benefit you at all?
If you google B5 and acne you’ll find threads on Reddit, articles on health sites, and products for purchase formulated with B5. Turns out there is some positive research out there about B5 use and clear skin.
A 2014 study of approximately 45 participants concluded that “Administration of a pantothenic acid-based dietary supplement in healthy adults with facial acne lesions is safe, well tolerated and reduced total facial lesion count versus placebo after 12 weeks of administration. Secondary analysis shows that the study agent significantly reduced area-specific and inflammatory blemishes. Further randomized, placebo-controlled trials are warranted.”
As always, more research needs to be done, but you can bet this made the rounds as the world’s miracle cure for acne. It’s important to note that the amounts of B5 given to participants wasn’t available. It’s also important to note that participants likely abstained from alcohol, smoking, and other supplement use during treatment and were under the care of highly trained medical professionals. And of course, long term effects of treatment with B5 were not available. My mission with Credible Feast to discourage irresponsible supplement use, but even I can see that in some cases, even beyond deficiency, concentrated vitamins can have therapeutic properties when administered in a carefully evaluated environment and for a limited time period.
So, instead of dosing yourself with synthetic B5 in your quest for clear skin, reach for my favorite fruit of all time, the avocado! It is delicious, packed full of an array of other B vitamins and good fat, not to mention fiber as well. One avocado has approximately 30% of the B5 you need for the day. And by eating your B5 via good food, you’re getting so many other benefits not present in a microencapsulated, lab produced version of the same thing.
I personally love avocado so much that I eat it on everything. Eggs. Toast. Salads. All by itself. And my hair has never been healthier, no Pantene required!