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Q: Pantothenic Acid Overdose ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Pantothenic Acid Overdose
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: zenmarko-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 18 Nov 2006 19:09 PST
Expires: 18 Dec 2006 19:09 PST
Question ID: 783925
Is it possible to overdose taking pantothenic acid? I have been taking
approx. 5 grams of pantothenic acid per day for the last 6 months to
get rid of my acne.
Until recently, I have experienced no side effects (not even diarrhea,
which is the only known side effect of mega-dosing I have seen). I am
not on any other medication, though I do take a multivitamin.
However, in the past week I have been experiencing what are probably 
anxiety attacks: periods of rapid heart rate accompanied by feelings
of anxiety, tingling in left arm. Also, a persistant buzzing in my
head, even when not experiencing anxiety (this is by far the most
troublesome symptom). I've been to the emergency room and everything
has been checked: blood, thyroid, etc. My heart rate never reaches
dangerous levels.
  I have since ceased taking pantothenic acid and the multivitamin
altogether, but the periods of anxiety and the head-buzzing persist.

   I was wondering if taking so much pantothenic acid might have in
any way caused these symptoms. I know that many individuals have taken
much higher doses for several years; I also understand that
pantothenic acid affects the adrenal glands, the disruption of which I
assume may be related to my symptoms.
Subject: Re: Pantothenic Acid Overdose
Answered By: sublime1-ga on 19 Nov 2006 00:45 PST

Although, as you noted, the only well-documented side effect of 
excess pantothenic acid is diarrhea, there are enough anecdotal
cautions that I would still tend to be concerned about ingestion
of such a massive dosage as 5 grams a day for such an extended
period. This is, after all, a manufactured chemical compound
(C9H17O5N) rather than a food-sourced supplement.

As you also noted, pantothenic acid supports the function of the
adrenal glands, per this article on Health 24:

"Pantothenic acid, just like co-enzyme A, is closely involved
 in supporting the adrenal glands? cortical stress reaction system."

However I've come across nothing that indicates that withdrawal
from the vitamin would produce any malfunction of the adrenals. lists the standard side effect of diarrhea:

So does Walton Feed:

The Food Standards Agency in the UK says, vaguely:

"You should be able to get all the pantothenic acid you need by
 eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take
 supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this
 might be harmful."

This PDF from goes into much more extensive detail
about studies on both humans and animals, but ultimately comes
to the conclusion that there have not been sufficient controlled
studies conducted to draw any real conclusions:

"Case reports and some much earlier non-controlled studies
 describe a lack of acute or chronic toxic effects of pantothenic
 acid compounds (calcium or sodium pantothenate, panthenol) at
 very high doses (approximately 10,000 mg/day in some cases for
 a number of years), although such levels have been associated
 with diarrhoea and gastrointestinal disturbances. In more recent,
 controlled studies (generally carried out to assess the potential
 benefits of pantothenic acid supplementation in specific subgroups,
 for example, arthritic patients) no side effects have been reported
 for pantothenic acid supplementation at levels up to approximately
 2000 mg/day, for periods of several days to several weeks. However,
 the small numbers of participants and short duration of these
 studies limit the value of the data regarding any potential rare or
 long-term toxic effects."
Much more on the page:

Ray Sahelian, M.D. has a page devoted to the vitamin which states:

"Benita von Klingspor, a nutritionist in Marina Del Rey,
 California, says, "Pantothenic acid is one of my favorite
 nutrients. I know the effects of this nutrient extremely
 well since I?ve been taking 100 to 250 mg most mornings for
 more than thirty years. I often recommend it to many clients
 with low energy. Pantothenic acid increases their alertness
 and focus, improves their mood, and enhances their joy in
 life. They begin to have more interest in whatever they?re
 doing. However, if people take too much pantothenic acid,
 they can become overstimulated, wired, and easily aggravated."

So that's at least one experienced nutritionist with enough
experience to be believable who reports something other than
diarrhea as a side effect - and that would be enough for me.

Here's another account by a consumer who took a megavitamin
supplement. His account describes symptoms similar to yours,
though the amount of pantothenic acid in the supplement is
nowhere near the dose you were taking. Still, he notes this
about what his doctor said about B vitamins:

"My heart was fine, thankfully, but the doctors felt that the
 immensely high concentration of B vitamins might be causing
 the problems. Apparently, B vitamins are good for energy but
 too much can cause the symptoms I was having."

On the other hand, as noted in the PDF file I referred to 
earlier, elimination of the vitamin tends to keep pace with
daily intake, so the fact that your symptoms are continuing
suggests either that this vitamin, which should have been
eliminated by this time, is unrelated to your symptoms, or
that the massive doses you ingested were somehow stored in
an internal organ such as the liver, and are still being
released from your body and maintaining the symptoms as a

Another tidbit from Dr. Ray Sahelian's page which isn't
mentioned on other sites, rings a possible warning bell:

"Pantothenic acid is also involved in making steroid hormones"

This might explain the remark above, saying, "if people take
too much pantothenic acid, they can become overstimulated,
wired, and easily aggravated", which are also symptoms of
steroid abuse.

Given that, it's possible that the massive doses you took 
for so long acclimated your system to a higher than normal
level of steroids and that you're now experiencing a kind
of withdrawal.

However, the symptoms of steroid withdrawal don't include
anxiety, as noted on this page from MedicineNet:

"Withdrawal symptoms (weakness, fatigue, decreased appetite,
 weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) can
 mimic many other medical problems."

All of the above leads to no solid conclusion, but it should
provide you a framework from which to pursue the matter, and
I can only encourage you to seek out professional testing of
pertinent things, such as the level of pantothenic acid you're
excreting in your urine, steroid level testing, or tests of
liver function, assuming there is some connection to your
past use of pantothenic acid. However, it seems to be equally
possible that your current symptoms are completely or relatively
unrelated to consuming too much vitamin B5, in which case a
complete workup by an endocrinologist might be useful.


Additional information may be found from further exploration
of the links provided above, as well as those resulting from
the Google searches outlined below.

Searches done, via Google:

too much pantothenic acid steroid

steroid withdrawal symptoms
Subject: Re: Pantothenic Acid Overdose
From: stanmartin1952-ga on 19 Nov 2006 01:46 PST
From scanning the answer , it sounds like pantothenic acid could have
caused your anxiety. Once you develop anxiety, it can take a long time
to go away.

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