Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, was discovered by Dr. Roger J. Williams in 1933. Its name means "from everywhere", since it can be found in a very wide range of foods.
The health benefits of vitamin B5 are widespread, due to the fact that it’s a precursor to coenzyme A, a co-factor needed for producing hormones, neurotransmitters, and fats.
Vitamin B5 helps your body extract energy from the foods you eat. It’s also a precursor to red blood cell production, making it an essential nutrient for life.
Interestingly enough, it may also be the reason why queen bees live about five times longer than worker bees. Makes you wonder - can it help us live longer too?
The Longevity Benefits of Vitamin B5Research conducted by Dr. Williams revealed that mice treated with pantothenic acid lived longer than unsupplemented animals.1 On average they lived 19 percent longer than untreated animals. This prompted him to suggest pantothenic acid as an investigational drug for anti-aging.
Another study involving rats found that B5 increased their ability to withstand stress2. But while the effects of vitamin B5 are notable in mice, they are much more impressive in bees.
Is Vitamin B5 Behind Royal Jelly’s Power?In the realm of bees, queens are made, not born. Future queens develop into larvae that are different from the worker bees. This is due to royal jelly. Royal jelly, which the queen larvae feed on exclusively, results in the development of a sexually mature queen bee.
The queen bee, who is the mother of most bees in a hive, is significantly different than the sterile worker bees that surround her. Her abdomen is significantly longer than other bees, making her "stand out in a crowd." Her fertility is awe-inspiring. A mated queen can lay up to a couple thousand eggs per day in springtime.
The most striking difference between the queen bee and her surrounding workers is her lifespan, which ranges from one to five years, in comparison with the worker bee's life span of one month.
While royalactin is the component of royal jelly recently identified as essential for its “queen-making property,” 20% of royal jelly by weight is pantothenic acid, making it one of the richest sources of vitamin B5.
How Much Vitamin B5 Do You Need?The recommended intake for vitamin B5 (aged 14 years and older) is just 5 milligrams daily. However, the only adverse effect seen with higher doses (10 to 20 grams per day) is diarrhea.
And while B5 deficiencies are rare, symptoms may include fatigue, insomnia, headache, intestinal disorders, tingling and numbness in the extremities, and possibly acne.
Because it’s water soluble, pantothenic acid is best taken in divided doses several times per day. It should be taken with food, if possible.
Also note that B5 can be found in certain shampoos and conditioners in the form of panthenol, which is believed to help your hair look thicker and healthier.
How to Get Vitamin B5 into Your SystemFirst and foremost, you can simply eat foods that are rich in pantothenic acid. Some key food sources include whole grains, legumes, meat, liver, kidneys, poultry, yeast, egg yolk, milk, broccoli and potatoes.
Of course, vitamin B5 can also be found in B complex supplements and in many multivitamin formulas. Since it’s a co-factor for acetylcholine production, you’ll often find it along with choline in memory and brain-enhancing formulas too.
And, of course, for a purely “natural” source, consider adding some royal jelly into your diet.
- Pelton RB, Williams RJ. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1958 Dec;99(3):632-3.
- Dumm ME, Ralli EP. Metabolism Clinical Exp 1953 2: 153-164.
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