Pantothenic acid deficiency has only been observed in individuals who were fed diets virtually devoid of pantothenic acid (Fry et al., 1976) or who were given a pantothenic acid metabolic antagonist, ω-methyl pantothenic acid (Hodges et al., 1958, 1959). The subjects exhibited various degrees of signs and symptoms, including irritability and restlessness; fatigue; apathy; malaise; sleep disturbances; gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps; neurobiological symptoms such as numbness, paresthesias, muscle cramps, and staggering gait; and hypoglycemia and an increased sensitivity to insulin. After 9 weeks of a semisynthetic diet devoid of pantothenic acid, blood and urine concentrations were substantially lower (Fry et al., 1976). Historically, pantothenic acid was implicated in the “burning feet” syndrome that affected prisoners of war in Asia during World War II. The condition improved after pantothenic acid supplementation but not when other B-complex vitamins were given (Glusman, 1947).
Urinary excretion on a typical American diet is approximately 2.6 mg/day of pantothenic acid (Tarr et al., 1981) but it is strongly dependent on intake. In a group of healthy adolescents aged 13 to 19 years, pantothenic acid intake (assessed from 4 days of food intake records) was significantly correlated with the pantothenic acid concentration in urine (r = 0.6) (Eissenstat et al., 1986). Total daily urinary excretion was not measured. Excretion of pantothenic acid in the urine approached zero after 11 weeks of a diet devoid of the vitamin (Hodges et al., 1958). In 10 young men, the urinary concentration of pantothenic acid fell gradually from 3.05 to 0.79 mg/ day in the six men who were fed a semisynthetic diet devoid of the vitamin for 84 days (Fry et al., 1976). The other four men were supplemented with 10 mg pantothenic acid/day for a 63-day period. The excretion of the vitamin in their urine increased from 3.9 to 5.8 mg/day. In a final 7-day period, all 10 subjects were given 100 mg/day of pantothenic acid, and urinary excretion increased to approximately 60 mg/day. The authors suggested that these results implied that substantial amounts of the vitamin can be stored when