The name pantothenic acid comes from the Greek word pantos, meaning "everywhere," referring to its wide distribution in most plants and animals. Rich food sources include meats, liver, kidney, fish/shellfish, chicken, vegetables, legumes, yeast, eggs, and milk. However, freezing and canning may lead to a loss of much of the pantothenic acid content. Whole grains are also a good source, although refining may degrade much of the pantothenic acid content. In commercial supplement products, vitamin B5 is available as D-pantothenic acid and as the synthetic products dexpanthenol (converted in the body to pantothenic acid) or calcium pantothenate. Pantothenic acid is frequently used in combination with other B vitamins in vitamin B complex formulations. Only the dextrorotatory (D) isomer of pantothenic acid possesses biologic activity.
Pantothenic acid deficiency is exceedingly rare and likely only occurs only in cases of the most severe life-threatening malnutrition. Most individuals likely obtain sufficient amounts from dietary sources.
Pantothenic acid has been used or studied for numerous health conditions, but has not been clearly demonstrated as beneficial for any. Oral, topical (on the skin), or injected forms have been used.