This vitamin has been known as growth factor for small organisms such as bacteria and protozoans. It is also essential for cellular metabolism as it forms part of an enzyme system.
The term pantothenic acid is derived from the Greek word pantothen meaning from everywhere. The vitamin had been given many names before its chemistry and identity were completely established.
The pure acid is a pale yellow viscous oil, readily soluble in water but insoluble in alcohol and other fat solvents. It is unstable and for this reason it is solid as a calcium salt.
Chemically pantothenic acid C3H17N06 is an aliphatic compound containing an amide linkage, a free acid group, and two free hydroxyl groups, one primary and the other secondary. It is represented as follows
Occurrence and availability of Pantothenic acid:
Pantothenic acid is richly found in liver and kidneys. It is also found in the heart, brain and tongue. Yeast, egg yolks, crude crane molasses, and cereal brans are other good sources. In animal tissue, it is found in enzyme systems and does not occur in free state.
The daily requirement of pantothenic acid for man has not been established and deficiency disease has also not been recognized. Sheep and cattle require pantothenic acid and they obtain it from the bacterial action on food.
Pantothenic acid deficiency or avitaminosis:
Pantothenic acid deficiency in rats is associated with poor growth, early aging, a graying of the hair and dermatitis (inflammation of the skin).
The lack of this vitamin causes deficient feathering in chicks, degeneration of nervous system in pigs and haemorrhages in the adrenal gland of human beings. In humans there occurs “burning feet syndrome”.
Fatigue, cardiovascular disturbances, gastrointestinal disturbances, numbness and tingling of the extremities, and a number of other distressing conditions have also been reported.