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Pantothenic Acid and Pantethine
By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH
www.DrLam.com

Introduction

The term "Pantos" means "everywhere" in Greek. It is from this term that the name Pantothenic Acid or more commonly known as Vitamin B5 is derived.

Pantothenic acid is a form of vitamin manufactured by plants. Mammals do not manufacture this vitamin intrinsically. But, fortunately, we can obtain substantial amounts of this acid in our diet. If our bodies do not have enough of this acid, we can develop a rare form of disease call Pantothenic acid deficiency.

The recommended daily dosage has yet to be established. However, some scientists have given an estimation with regards to the safe and adequate daily dietary intake as follows:-

Age

Dosage level

Infants below 6 months

2 mg

Infants 6 to 12 months

3 mg

Children 1 to 3 years

3 mg

Children 4 to 6 years

3 to 4 mg

Children 7 to 10 years

4 to 5 mg

Children 11 years and above

4 to 7 mg

What type of food should we eat to obtain adequate levels of pantothenic acid? Doctors say that Brewer's yeast, torula (nutritional) yeast and calf liver are excellent sources of pantothenic acid. In addition, we can also eat peanuts, split peas, pecan nuts, oatmeal, mushrooms, soybeans, buckwheat, sunflower seeds, red chilli peppers, avocados, lentils, cashew nuts and other whole grains and nuts.

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PROPERTIES

When pantothenic acid enters our bodies, it forms a substance call pantethine. Pantethine is a more stable disulfide form (or a double bond) of pantothenic acid. It is also a more active metabolic substrate that is converted into an enzyme called "Co-Enzyme A" (CoA). CoA plays a critical role in the metabolism and breakdown of the three essential micronutrients namely proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

CoA is also a cofactor in more than 70 enzymatic pathways which includes the following:-

1 Fatty acid oxidation
2 Carbohydrate metabolism
3 Pyruvate degradation
4 Amino acid catabolism
5 Heme synthesis
6 Acetylcholine synthesis
7 Phase II detoxification acetylationsin

CoA is also responsible for the initial steps of cholesterol synthesis, all down-stream metabolites of cholesterol including steroids, Vitamin D and bile acids.

As such, we can see that CoA is a very important enzyme. It also helps to breakdown the carbon skeleton of most amino acids, which are metabolized to pyruvate and enter the TCA cycle.

CoA directs acetyl groups to form all polyisoprenoid compounds, which include ubiquinone (CoQ10), squalene and cholesterol. Our bodies also need CoA for the transportation of long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria where fats are converted into energy.

In a nutshell, CoA is the basis for the production of hemoglobin, bile, sex and adrenal steroids, cholesterol, and a few brain chemicals and neurotransmitters.


We can consume pantothenic acid through dietary means. However, it must be noted that the more active form of pantethine, or its reduced-SH form pantetheine that contains the SH molecule necessary for enzyme activity cannot be obtained by consuming whole foods.

When we compare pantethine with pantothenic acid, pantethine by far more active when it comes to the production of CoA. This hypothesis has been proven true by many clinical trials. Although taking pantothenic acid as a form of supplement will ultimately lead to the creation of CoA, researchers have pointed out that pantethine creates twice as much CoA than pantothenic acid. This is because structure of pantethine is closer to the CoA production pathway.

Pantothenic acid also has its own benefits. It enhances adrenal functions and inflammatory response modulation. Both pantothenic acid as well as pantethine should be considered as one synergistical unit and not as mutually exclusive nutrients.


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