A hefty dose of vitamin B5 – aka pantothenic acid – speeds up the healing of wounds. Researchers at the French institute Inserm discovered this in the early 1980s. Their animal study showed that vitamin B5 speeded up the recovery of damaged tendons in particular, but also the healing of damaged skin.
In their study, which was published in 1985 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers divided 54 rabbits into three groups. One group of rabbits was given standard food; a second group was given food in which the researchers had reduced the concentration of vitamin B5 as much as possible; and a third group was given normal food – plus extra vitamin B5.
The extra vitamin B5 was injected. The human equivalent of the dose that the researchers injected would be about 500 mg a day for an adult weighing 80 kg. The oral equivalent of that is about 1 gram per day.
After three weeks the researchers made an incision in the skin and tendon tissue on the rabbits’ abdomen during an operation.
In the month that followed, the researchers studied the scars on the skin and tendon tissue of the animals. They took samples of the scar tissue and measured the breaking strength. The higher the breaking strength the better the wound is healing.
The figure below shows the skin scar tissue recovery. On day 10 of the experiment that tissue was significantly stronger in the animals that had been given extra vitamin B5.
The effect of vitamin B5 on the recovery of tendon tissue was more convincing, as the figure below shows.
“The biochemical mechanism by which pantothenic acid acts on wound healing remains unelucidated”, the researchers wrote. “Research along this line may be helpful in leading to understanding and control of this mechanism.”
The researchers suspect that vitamin B5 [structural formula at right] supplementation is interesting for people who have to undergo operations, certainly if they consume low levels of vitamin B5. We also wonder whether vitamin B5 supplementation might be interesting for athletes suffering from muscle attachment damage.
Effects of supplemental pantothenic acid on wound healing: experimental study in rabbit.
The effect of pantothenic acid supplementation and deficiency on wound healing was investigated over a one month postoperative period in rabbits. The supplemented group was injected with pentothenate (20 mg/kg of body weight/24 h) for three weeks and compared to a placebo group (0.5 ml of distilled water). Deficient animals were fed with a pantothenate free diet also for three weeks. These three experimental groups were matched against a control group. The degree of wound healing was determined by the mean of postoperative breaking strength and wound fibroblast population changes. Pantothenic acid urinary excretion measured by gas chromatography served as control of pantothenate consumption. With regard to these three parameters no significant difference has been found between placebo and controls. The average urinary elimination in the pantothenic acid group was significantly higher as far as the pantothenate supplemented group was concerned, while the deficient group showed no significant decrease when compared to controls. Chronic pre- and postoperative pantothenic acid supplementation significantly increased aponeurosis strength after surgery; it improved slightly, but not significantly the strength of the skin. Furthermore, the fibroblast content of the scar became significantly greater during the fibroblast proliferation phase after pantothenic supplementation. These data suggest that pantothenic acid induces an accelerating effect of the normal healing process. The mechanism responsible for this improvement seems to be an increase in cellular multiplication during the first postoperative period. But the exact intimate mechanism of the beneficial effect of pantothenate remains unclear.
PMID: 3976557 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]