Pantothenic Acid is part of the vitamin B complex and plays a number of essential metabolic roles in the human body, including some of those related to the production of adrenal gland hormones and the production of energy. It has become increasingly popular as a nutritional supplement, widely used for it's alleged abilities to boost energy, increase athletic performance, alleviate arthritis, restore colour and luster to hair and, in general, rejuvenate. Deficiencies in humans can result in abdominal distress, vomiting, cramps, burning pain in the heels, fatigue, insomnia. Signs of reduced immunity to some infectious agents have also been noted in Pantothenate deficiency.

Recently a metabolite of Pantothenic Acid called Pantethine has come into the supplement supermarket. It has excited quite a lot of research, most of it directed toward cholesterol lowering and protection against Cardiovascular Disease. In addition, Pantethine is showing early promise as a detoxifier of alcohol and as an Immune Stimulant.

1. Boosts energy and athletic ability.
2. Lowers Cholesterol and protects against Cardiovascular Disease.
3. Prevents and Alleviates Arthritis.
4. Speeds Wound Healing.
5. Detoxifies Alcohol.
6. Stimulates Immunity.
7. Prevents Hair Loss and Graying of Hair
8. Retards Aging

EVIDENCE - Related To Positive Claims:
1. Boosts energy and athletic ability.

This claim has been around for a long time. Theres a lot of anecdotal evidence attesting to it. Scientific evidence, on the other hand, has been scarce. Some twenty-five years ago there was an animal study showing that rats given large doses of Pantothenic Acid survived twice as long as unsupplemented rats when forced to remain in cold water. In the last few years a couple human studies were finally conducted to investigate this intriguing claim. The results were mixed but interesting.

In one study, highly conditioned distance runners were given 1 gram of Pantothenic Acid daily for two weeks. Their performance on a treadmill was compared with equally well-conditioned distance runners who received only placebos during the study period. No difference in performance was noted.

More positive results were obtained in a more recent study in which well-trained distance runners were given 2 grams of Pantothenic Acid daily for two weeks. These athletes outperformed other, equally well trained distance runners who received placebos for comparison purposes. Those who got the Pantothenic Acid used 8 percent less Oxygen to perform equivalent work and had almost 17 percent less lactic acid buildup. These differences, particularly in the context of athletic competition, are quite significant if they are confirmed in subsequent studies.

2. Lowers Cholesterol and protects against Cardiovascular Disease.

This claim has been made with respect to Pantethine, not Pantothenic Acid. Several studies have been reported recently indicating that Pantethine can lower both Cholesterol (an average of about 15 percent) and triglycerides (an average of 30 percent) in those with elevated Cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These results have been achieved at doses in the range of 500 to 1,200 milligrams daily.

There were NO adverse side effects at those doses. Additional studies indicate Pantethine may have effects that will help inhibit dangerous Blood Clots and irregular Heart Beats.

Pantethine's ability to lower Blood Fats and the other findings related to possible Cardiovascular protective effects deserve further work and confirmation.

3. Prevents and alleviates arthritis.

The evidence related to this claim is intriguing. Nearly forty years ago, researchers noted that young rats acutely deficient in Pantothenic Acid suffered defects in the growth and development of Bone and Cartilage, defects that were reversed with Pantothenate supplementation. This experimental work suggested a possible therapeutic role for Pantothenic Acid in the treatment of human Bone and Joint Disorders.

Some years later other investigators reported that Blood Levels of Pantothenic Acid are significantly lower in humans with Rheumatoid Arthritis than in normal individuals. From that observation they conducted a clinical trial in which twenty patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis were injected daily with 50 milligrams of Calcium Pantothenate. Blood Levels quickly rose to normal and relief from many Rheumatoid Symptoms was quickly achieved in most cases. Symptoms gradually returned however, when the Pantothenate was discontinued.

Interestingly still better results were obtained among Arthritic Patients, who were Vegetarians. The best results were achieved among the Vegetarians, who were given a combination of Pantothenic Acid and Royal Jelly.

With the exception of a 1963 study attributing relief from symptoms of osteoarthritis in a small number of human patients to oral Pantothenate supplements, there was no further work on these promising early findings until 1980 when the U.S General Practitioner Research Group conducted a double-blind study that recorded highly significantly effects for oral Calcium Pantothenate in reducing the duration of morning stiffness, degree of disability, and severity of pain in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Control subjects (who received placebos) did not obtain relief in any of these particulars. The oral dose used in this study was one tablet of 500 milligrams daily for two days, followed by one tablet twice a day (for a total of 1,000 milligrams daily) for three days, followed by one tablet three times daily (1,500 milligrams daily) for four days, followed by one tablet four times a day (2,000 milligrams, which equals 2 grams daily) thereafter.

Pantothenate was NOT found to be effective, in this study, against forms of Arthritis, other than the Rheumatoid variety.

Clearly, as the Research Group concluded, further trials are justified and needed.

4. Speeds Wound Healing.

Studies have appeared in recent years showing that surgical wounds in animals heal faster and more firmly with Pantothenic Acid supplementation. The Vitamin seems to stimulate cell growth in the healing process. The definitive research into this issue has not yet been performed, but Pantothenic Acid looks promising in this regard.

5. Detoxifies Alcohol.

There is one recent study showing that Pantethine speeds up the body's detoxification of Acetaldehyde, lowering levels of it in the blood following Alcohol consumption.

This is significant because Acetaldehyde appears to be a major player in the toxic process that accompanies long-term Alcohol use. Given the magnitude of Alcoholic abuse in this country and worldwide, this finding needs to be further investigated as soon as possible.

6. Stimulates immunity.

This claim, made for Pantethine, is based upon a single study which showed an immune boosting effect in animals. More work will have to be done to determine whether similar effects can be obtained in humans. The effects noted in this study were activation of Natural Killer Cells and Macrophages.

7. Prevents hair loss and graying of hair.

Perhaps because pantothenic acid deficiency in rats leads to graying of hair and loss of hair, many manufacturers have added Pantothenyl Alcohol (panthenol) to hair conditioners and other hair treatment products. There is anecdotal evidence that Pantothenic Acid can restore some colour to human hair and prevent or slow its loss, but these claims have not been tested in scientific studies.

8. Retards aging.

The claim is that megadoses of Pantothenic Acid will retard and remove age spots (pigments), re-energize old cells and extend life span. The life span claims are based upon a study conducted some years ago in which Pantothenic Acid supplemented mice lived 18 to 20 percent longer than unsupplemented control mice. This was a well-designed study, but it does not by itself prove that Pantothenic Acid can make mice, let alone humans, live longer.

(A) Suggested Intake -

In the absence of any information indicating toxicity, daily doses of Pantothenic Acid up to 100 milligrams do not seem unreasonable as a part of a preventive regimen for healthy people.

Those interested in taking Pantethine in the 500 to 1,200 milligram dose ranges discussed above should also consult their Physicians for approval. Remember that those doses were designed for specific therapies, not for prevention of problems. Effective preventive doses will presumably be smaller.

(B) Source/Form -

Dietary sources include organ meats, eggs and whole grain cereals. Supplements are widely available.

(C) Take With -

Best if incorporated into a well-balanced vitamin/mineral insurance formula.

(D) Cautionary Note -

At present there is NO known toxicity. This does NOT mean, however, that large doses are safe. Research on this issue has been inadequate.

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