1.6.7 Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5 )
The name ‘pantothenic acid’ is derived from the Greek pantothen which means ‘from all sides’, indicating that it is widely distributed in the diet. It plays a vital role in metabolism, particularly in the production of energy in cells. Naturally occurring pantothenic acid deficiency is very rare, since it is so widespread in the diet. However, during World War II, prisoners in the Philippines, Burma and Japan suffering from severe malnutrition did experience numbness, tingling and painful burning in their feet, which was relieved specifically by pantothenic acid. In mice and rats, pantothenic acid deficiency led to their fur turning grey, and on the basis of this finding, pantothenic acid has been added to some shampoos, in the hope that it might prevent grey hair in humans. There is as yet no evidence that it does.