Vitamin B5 – pantothenic acid

Why do you need it?

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) helps release energy from food, builds hormones, keeps your immune system healthy and is important for many other essential reactions in your body. Luckily, this vitamin is present in virtually all plant cells, so it’s easy to get enough of it through a varied vegan diet.


Deficiency of vitamin B5 in humans is rare. Signs of deficiency include feeling tired and dizzy, headaches, mood swings and digestive problems and numbness or a burning sensation in the feet.

How much do you need?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends five milligrams of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) a day for adults. The recommended intakes for infants, children and adolescents, as well as pregnant and lactating women are given below.

Recommended nutrient intakes for pantothenic acid (B5). Click to read more…
Age groupRecommended nutrient intake mg/day
Infants and children
0-6 months1.7
7-12 months1.8
1-3 years2
4-6 years3
7-9 years4
Females 10-18 years5
Males 10-18 years5
Females, 19+ years5
Males, 19+ years5
Pregnant women6
Lactating women7
Source: WHO, FAO. 2004. Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition. 2nd ed. Geneva: WHO.

Where to find vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

The name pantothenic acid derives from the Greek pantothen, meaning ‘from everywhere’ as small amounts are found in nearly every food. You should be able to get all you need by eating a wide variety of foods, including those below. The best plant sources include pulses, wholegrain foods, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, avocados, mushrooms, nuts and seeds. 

  • Pulses: Peas, beans and lentils are an excellent source of pantothenic acid. Popular varieties include yellow, green and split peas, red kidney beans, black beans, mung beans, cowpeas (black-eyed peas) and red ‘masoor’ lentils. They are a versatile staple in Uganda and are used in curries, soups, stews, salads or simply boiled and served as a side dish. One cup (200 grams) of cooked chickpeas contains 3.2 milligrams of pantothenic acid and one cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 1.3 milligrams.
  • Wholegrains: Brown rice, wholewheat, oats, millet and sorghum contain moderate amounts of vitamin B5. One cup (195 grams) of cooked brown rice, for example, contains 0.8 milligrams of pantothenic acid.
  • Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, for example, all contain pantothenic acid. One medium sweet potato (151 grams) contains 0.9 milligrams of pantothenic acid, just half a cup of cauliflower (62 grams) or broccoli (44 grams) contains around 0.3 milligrams. 
  • Fruit: Mangoes, papaya and bananas contain pantothenic acid in small amounts, but avocados are a great source. One (201 grams) avocado contains 2.8 milligrams of pantothenic acid. 
  • Mushrooms: Although not common in Uganda, mushrooms are a good source of pantothenic acid and one cup (100 grams) of white mushrooms contains 1.5 milligrams. 
  • Nuts and seeds: Some nuts and seeds contain moderate amounts of pantothenic acid but sunflower seeds are the best source; quarter of a cup (28 grams) contains nearly half your daily needs, 2.4 milligrams.