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Pantothenic Acid

Pantothenic acid, a B-complex vitamin, is essential for growth, reproduction and normal metabolic processes in humans and other animals. Common dietary sources of pantothenic acid are yogurt, lentils, eggs, liver, meats, lobster, avocado, mushrooms, sweet potato, soybeans, brewer's yeast, and wheat germ.

Pantothenic acid was discovered in 1919 and isolated from yeast by Dr. Roger J. Williams in 1933. Its name is derived from the Greek word pantothen that means "from everywhere", which is appropriate for this widely distributed vitamin. Pantothenic acid is an integral part of coenzyme A and plays the important role of decarboxylating pyruvate in the citric acid cycle. Clinically, pantothenic acid is necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells, steroid metabolism, neuron activity, and stimulation of antibody production. Because of its ubiquitous nature, pantothenic acid deficiency is very rare unless specifically engineered for the purposes of biochemical investigations, or as an unwanted side-effect from another pharmaceutical, such as pantoyl-GABA, used widely in Japan as an antidementia drug. While stable in a neutral solution, processing food items with heat in either alkali or acid results in significant panothenate loss and destruction.

Synthetic pantothenic acid is marketed as a calcium salt for industrial manufacturing and organic chemical processes, as well as a major nutrient component of animal feeds. As a dietary supplement and in cosmetics, panothenate is supposed to prevent premature aging and wrinkling. Because pantothenic acid is one of the B-complex vitamins, it is water soluble, meaning that any excess is eliminated via urine and sweat and must be replenished on a daily basis.

Contributing Authors

Omar Alvarado, Thomas J. Fellers and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.


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