When someone is conspicuous by their absence, they stand out by not being there. Vitamin B5, however, actually stands out by its presence. It was named pantothenic acid for a reason. Its name is derived from the Greek word pantos, meaning 'all' or 'whole'. This vitamin is present in many, if not all, raw materials. Although vitamin B5 is conspicuous by its presence, even this vitamin had to be discovered. This was done in 1931 by Roger J. Williams, an American scientist. In any case, its frequent presence underlines the biological importance of this vitamin.
Despite its scarcity, royal jelly (royal jelly) is the richest source of vitamin B5. It is produced by bees in their food glands. Royal jelly is the staple food for bee larvae until their third day, after which they switch to pollen or honey. The queen is only given, unsurprisingly, royal jelly. This unique product, which contains vitamin B5, is highly regarded as an organic medicine and is much sought after.
Coenzyme in the citric acid cycle
The metabolic and medical effect of vitamin B5 is partly explained by the discovery of pantothenic acid as a component of or precursor to the key molecule of coenzyme A. This discovery earned Fritz Lipman the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1953. He had to share it with Hans Adolf Krebs, the discoverer of the citric acid cycle, in which coenzyme A plays a key role.
The citric acid cycle is one of the most essential and fundamental metabolic processes in cells. It provides energy from nutrients and meets the energy needs for maintenance and growth. Vitamin B5 is thus undeniably related to one of the most important bodily processes (see figure 1).
Part of the B complex
But yet this vitamin rarely stands alone. Many B vitamins are coenzymes and therefore play an important role in enzymatic reactions. The concept of coenzyme means that it is a relatively small molecule, which enzymes need in order to perform their function. This cannot be done without a coenzyme.
In order to get energy from, for example, carbohydrates, pantothenic acid works together with thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3); different substances that go down identical biochemical pathways. Therefore, the requirements for these individual vitamins are correlated for a large part. Due to their mutual relationships, individual recommendations for B vitamins cannot be seen separately from the entire B complex.
Vitamin B5 supports various physiological processes that are crucial to the health of farm animals. Studies by, among others, Mahan et al. (2007) and Stahly et al. (1995; 2007) show the positive effect of a higher dosage of vitamin B complex on growth and production parameters in pigs with a high growth capacity (figure 2).
Widely available does not necessarily mean abundantly available, however. Moreover, the accumulation of this vitamin in the animal body is limited. That is why vitamin B5 is added to premixes as a supplement. The optimal level can vary per animal type and development phase. Our nutritionists here at Twilmij are more than happy to advise you on the standards for this vitamin.
Figure 1. The citric acid cycle.
Figure 2. The effect of additional B vitamins on growth in pigs. See, among others, studies by Stahly et al. (1995; 2007); Lutz & Stahly (1998), Lindemann et al. (1999) and Mahan et al. (2007).