Pantothenic acid deficiency is a very rare occurrence. It happens when your body is not sufficiently supplied with pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5. This is one of the essential vitamins you acquire from food and is used in practically every biochemical reaction in your body. Cell metabolism, hormone and cholesterol synthesis, DNA replication and production of your hemoglobin all require the presence of pantothenic acid. Because it's readily available in foods, only certain groups of people, like those with impaired digestive systems, those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol or pregnant women, are more likely to have pantothenic acid deficiency. When this happens, many symptoms can surface.
1. Fatigue and Apathy
Pantothenic acid is a component of coenzyme A (CoA), which participates in the reactions that convert carbohydrates, proteins and fats you acquire from food into energy. Without enough CoA, your body will feel drained of energy and you can feel sluggish and disinterested in your surroundings.
2. Numbness and Cramps
Pantothenic acid is also involved in the production of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter has functions in both your peripheral and your central nervous system. Acetylcholine controls your autonomous muscle contractions and sensory perception. Without sufficient pantothenic acid your acetylecholine production declines. This can lead to prolonged muscle tetanus or sensations such as prickliness or numbness.
Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your body is sensitive to insulin. A person with hypoglycemia can exhibit sudden onsets of shakiness, anxiety, sweating, palpitation or other adrenaline-related responses. Pantothenic acid deficiency can increase the binding ability of your insulin receptors, making you more responsive to insulin fluctuations in your blood.
4. Excessive Stress
Pantothenic acid is essential to your body’s ability to break fats down into fatty acids that are the building blocks for your hormones. Pantothenic acid deficiency can impair the production of anti-stress hormones in your adrenal glands and cause symptoms like depression, anxiety and increased irritability. Chronic fatigue syndrome can also arise due to decreased adrenal function.
Cortisol levels in your blood can increase without proper adrenal regulation. Increased cortisol levels can lead to feelings of sleeplessness and high irritability.
6. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a degenerative systemic inflammation that can impact tissues and organs. It mainly occurs at the joints. People with rheumatoid arthritis often experience chronic joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time it can lead to joint deformation. Studies have shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis have significantly lower pantothenic acid levels in their blood. Studies have also shown that pantothenic acid can result in reduced levels of swelling and pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
7. Poor Blood Profile
Pantothenic acid can be broken down into panthenol and other compounds that can reduce the level of low-density cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides in your blood. Studies have shown that people with higher than normal triglyceride levels usually have less pantothenic acid in their blood. This increases their risks for heart attacks and strokes. Pantothenic acid has been administered as an effective treatment for improving the blood profile.