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Pantothenic Acid

A water-soluble vitamin, and a member of the B complex. Pantothenic acid is a constituent of coenzyme A which plays an essential part in the intermediate stages of carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Pantothenic acid also plays a role in antibody formation, detoxification of drugs, and the conversion of cholesterol to anti-stress hormones. Some studies indicate that pantothenic acid supplements improve physical fitness, but it is generally agreed that more detailed experimentation is needed to confirm these effects.

Pantothenic acid was discovered because deficiency caused the hair of black rats to turn grey. It was called ?anti-grey hair factor? at one time, but there is no evidence that it affects hair colour in humans. Nevertheless, it is used in some hair care preparations as ?pro vitamin B5?.

Deficiencies do not cause any specific disease in humans but can lead to a condition known as ?burning feet syndrome? when the feet ache, burn, and throb. Other deficiency symptoms include a wide range of mental and physiological disorders, among them headaches, depression, arm and leg cramps, respiratory infections, digestive disorders, and irregularities of heartbeat.

Good sources of pantothenic acid include dried brewer's yeast, pig liver, peas, and other legumes. Pantothenic acid is widespread in foods except fats, oils, and sugar. Healthy people are rarely at risk from deficiencies. The US RDA is 10 mg. There is no RNI in the UK.

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