Pantothenic acid (B-5) and biotin (B-7) are types of B vitamins. They are water-soluble, which means that the body can't store them. If the body can't use the entire vitamin, the extra amount leaves the body through the urine. The body keeps a small reserve of these vitamins. They have to be taken on a regular basis to maintain the reserve.
Pantothenic acid and biotin are needed for growth. They help the body break down and use food. This is called metabolism. They are both required for making fatty acids.
Pantothenic acid also plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol. It is also used in the conversion of pyruvate.
Almost all plant- and animal-based foods contain pantothenic acid in varying amounts, though food processing can cause a significant loss.
Pantothenic acid is found in foods that are good sources of B vitamins, including the following:
- Animal proteins
- Broccoli, kale, and other vegetables in the cabbage family
- Legumes and lentils
- Organ meats
- White and sweet potatoes
- Whole-grain cereals
Biotin is found in foods that are good sources of B vitamins, including:
- Egg yolk
- Organ meats (liver, kidney)
Lack of pantothenic acid is very rare, but can cause a tingling feeling in the feet (paresthesia). Lack of biotin may lead to muscle pain, dermatitis, or glossitis (swelling of the tongue). Signs of biotin deficiency include skin rashes, hair loss, and brittle nails.
Large doses of pantothenic acid do not cause symptoms, other than (possibly) diarrhea. There are no known toxic symptoms from biotin.
Recommendations for pantothenic acid and biotin, as well as other nutrients, are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine. DRI is a term for a set of reference intakes that are used to plan and assess the nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values, which vary by age and gender, include:
- Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): average daily level of intake that is enough to meet the nutrient needs of nearly all (97% to 98%) healthy people.
- Adequate Intake (AI): established when there is not enough evidence to develop an RDA. It is set at a level that is thought to ensure enough nutrition.
Dietary Reference Intakes for pantothenic acid:
- Age 0 to 6 months: 1.7* milligrams per day (mg/day)
- Age 7 to 12 months: 1.8* mg/day
- Age 1 to 3 years: 2* mg/day
- Age 4 to 8 years: 3* mg/day
- Age 9 to 13 years: 4* mg/day
- Age 14 and older: 5* mg/day
- 6 mg/day during pregnancy
- Lactation: 7 mg/day
*Adequate Intake (AI)
Dietary Reference Intakes for biotin:
- Age 0 to 6 months: 5* micrograms per day (mcg/day)
- Age 7 to 12 months: 6* mcg/day
- Age 1 to 3 years: 8* mcg/day
- Age 4 to 8 years: 12* mcg/day
- Age 9 to 13 years: 20* mcg/day
- Age 14 to 18 years: 25* mcg/day
- 19 and older: 30* mcg/day (including women who are pregnant)
- Lactating women: 35* mcg/day
*Adequate Intake (AI)
The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods.
Specific recommendations depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need higher amounts. Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.
Pantothenic acid; Pantethine; Vitamin B5; Vitamin B7
Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 218.
Salwen MJ. Vitamins and trace elements. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 26.
Review Date 2/2/2019
Updated by: Emily Wax, RD, CNSC, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.