For those of us with acne, dealing with chronic breakouts can be incredibly frustrating. Not only are you struggling with a fresh zit (or two or three!) on your face when you wake up every morning, but you also may be dealing with the low self-esteem that comes with it. (1)
To put it simply, it bites. And no matter what you seem to throw at it – from the strongest prescription medications to those reluctant but oh-so-important dietary and lifestyle changes – the acne only seems to keep coming back. It’s almost enough to make you want to give up, right?
Listen, you don’t want to do that. Yes, having acne stinks. No, you’re not less valuable of a person for it.
But you’re so close to finally having clear skin… and you just don’t know it yet. Why’s that? Because if you’re still getting frequent breakouts, then that means there’s a good chance you haven’t taken a holistic approach to it yet.
Now, don’t let the word “holistic” scare you off. We’re not here to tell you to move to a commune, start eating granola, and trade out all your adorable sneakers and high heels for a pair of sensible sandals. Instead, we want to ask you if you’ve really tried everything to beat your acne.
Sure, you might already have a good skin care regimen in place. No doubt, you’re already aiming for a full eight hours of sleep at night and you’re doing everything in your power to get your stress levels in check. And it’s likely you haven’t touched sugar or dairy with a ten-foot pole in months. (2)
But if you’re not taking a closer look at what nutrients you’re getting in your diet every day, then you just still might be falling short on achieving those much-coveted skincare goals. Specifically, we’re talking about vitamin B5 here, or pantothenic acid.
And today, we’re here to share with you what exactly is vitamin B5 – and why you seriously need to take it if you want to finally achieve clear skin.
What is Pantothenic Acid?
When it comes to getting in all of your vitamins and minerals every day, it can sometimes feel like you’re desperately chugging down a bowl of alphabet soup just to squeeze them all in. You’ve got your A vitamins, your B vitamins, your C vitamins…
Okay, you get the gist here. But the star of the show that we’re talking about here today is vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid. This humble water-soluble vitamin just might be the one that’s missing from your diet, and it could be the piece of the puzzle that leads to clear skin.
Found in foods like beef, poultry, eggs, and dairy – as well as fortified foods like oats and other grains – vitamin B5 is actually fairly common in our diets. However, if you’re on a restricted diet due to allergies or other reasons, it’s far too easy to fall behind on your RDA (recommended daily allowance) of this vitamin. (3)
In this case, supplementation may be the answer. Sure, getting vitamin B5 from natural, whole sources is always going to be the best. We’re not going to argue with you there.
But not everyone can cram enough of it into their diets every day, which means you could be missing out on your daily needs. Considering that we need a minimum of at least 5mg per day, it can be hard to reach that number through diet alone. Plus, 5mg is the bare minimum. (4)
To reach healthy levels in your diet, you’re going to want to get a lot more than that. And since vitamin B5 is water-soluble, it’s literally impossible to overdose on it. In other words, sometimes less is more… and in the case of good ol’ pantothenic acid, more is more. (5)
Can Pantothenic Acid Help with Acne?
There are a lot of philosophical questions that we tend to mentally debate on a daily basis. For instance, do cats know the difference between right and wrong? (Answer: those adorable little brats totally know what they’re doing when they knock your water glass over onto the floor.)
But then there are also some other questions out there that really don’t require the same level of weight given to them. Take, for example, the musing about water. Is it really wet?
Well, yeah, that’s a given. That’s like asking if the sky is blue, or if bears do their business in the woods. We don’t even have to dignify those questions with an answer, as it’s so blatantly obvious.
But here’s the really pressing question here that’s on all of our minds right now: Is vitamin B5 good for acne?
Well… sure. In fact, it’s clinically proven that this humble little vitamin can help banish those acne breakouts from your face and give you the clear skin you’ve always wanted. But what exactly is the mechanism of action, and why is it so effective?
We’re glad you asked! Let’s go ahead and dive into what the science says about vitamin B5 for acne, shall we?
What Does the Clinical Research Say?
When it comes to clearing your skin, taking vitamin B5 for acne is pretty dang effective. However, before you can understand why it works so well, you first need to know how it works. Basically, when it comes to acne, it’s important to remember that your body is a complete system.
In other words, your skin doesn’t just live in some bubble, independent of the rest of your body. There’s this whole homeostasis thing going on, and if one thing in your body isn’t working well, then it can have a domino effect on the rest of your body. (6)
It’s actually super interesting how important vitamin B5 is because, at a glance, its job seems pretty unremarkable. What pantothenic acid does is help to create something called “coenzyme A” (CoA). In turn, this CoA helps break down fatty acids and triglycerides in your body. (4 & 7 )
Seems basic, right? Well, sure, but there’s more to that. Don’t let the simple name of CoA fool you, okay?
Because it breaks down these fatty acids and triglycerides inside your body, it means it’s going to have a direct effect on the amount of sebum your skin produces. In other words, CoA can help reduce overall sebum production, leading to less oily skin and fewer breakouts. (8)
What does that mean for you? Let’s break this down into smaller, bite-sized pieces so it’s easier to digest. For starters, we already established that CoA helps with lipid metabolism.
Why does that matter? Sebum, that oily layer on your skin, is made of almost straight-up fat. In fact, over half of sebum (about 57%) is a combo of fatty acids and triglycerides, and the rest is a combo of squalene and cholesterol and a few other waxy esters. (9)
There are a lot of things that can lead to too much sebum on the surface of your skin, as well. For instance, hormonal imbalances can definitely lead to too much sebum production. The fact is, nearly all acne is hormonal, and the relationship between hormones and acne is already pretty self-evident.
And if you’ve got a hormonal imbalance leading to too much sebum production, it’s perfectly reasonable that you’d want to try to regulate it. Taking a topical approach to treating it is certainly a step in the right direction, but it’s only one part of the whole acne-healing process.
Washing your face with a gentle cleanser can help, as can using a clinically formulated stem cell serum to moisturize it afterward. This can help reduce the amount of oil production on the surface of your skin, as well as help unclog those pores. But if you really want to nip your acne in the bud, then you need to get to the root of the problem. (10)
In this case, the acne breakouts can be traced back to metabolic dysregulation, which is caused by hormonal imbalances and insufficient dietary nutrient intake. That’s where vitamin B5 and coenzyme A really shine.
Since CoA breaks down fatty acids and triglycerides, it only makes sense that it’ll help staunch that excessive sebum production. Plus, it’s already a proven fact that too much sebum production can lead to clogged pores, all but setting out a welcome mat for the bacteria that causes acne. (Cutibacterium acnes, we’re looking at you.) (11 & 12)
There are also a few other things that come into play here, too. Because pantothenic acid is an anti-inflammatory, it can help regulate the immune response associated with acne breakouts. In turn, you’ll start to notice less pain and redness when you supplement with vitamin B5. (13)
As an added bonus, this vitamin can also help boost your immune system, too. Because the etiology of acne can be traced back to a C. acnes infection, adding it into your diet can help kick the blemish-causing germs to the curb. The combo of reduced inflammation and infection-fighting properties found in B5 is a total win-win. (14 & 15)
Long story short? If you don’t get enough vitamin B5 in your diet, you’re going to be facing serious acne breakouts on your face, back, and chest. However, since vitamin B5 takes a multi-pronged approach to fighting those unwanted breakouts, supplementing with it can help dramatically reduce the number of spots on your face. (16, 17, & 18)
Let us go ahead and repeat this one more time, a little bit louder for those in the back. Even if you aren’t deficient in vitamin B5, not getting enough of it in your diet can cause breakouts. However, adding it back in has been clinically proven to help lead to clear skin.
In other words, you have nothing to lose – and everything to gain – when you add a vItamin B5 acne supplement into your diet. When you look at it like that, there’s literally no reason why you wouldn’t want to include a pantothenic acid supplement into your lifestyle.
Vitamin B5 vs. Accutane
If you saw a tiny little sugar ant sitting on your kitchen counter, it’s understandable that you’d be upset. After all, where there’s one ant, there’s bound to be a dozen others just lurking in the wings. You’d also probably be quickly trying to think of ways to get rid of that ant and help make sure neither it (or its six-legged buddies) come back.
Here’s a reasonable course of action: you get rid of the ant, and then you clean your kitchen from top to bottom to get rid of the pheromone trail that attracts those vermin into your house. Problem solved, easy peasy.
But you know what would be a very unreasonable course of action? Grabbing a flamethrower and burning the ant, as well as the rest of your house, down. Sure, it’d effectively get rid of your ant problem, but now you’ve got a whole other host of problems to deal with now.
That’s how Accutane (also known as “isotretinoin”) is when it comes to treating acne. Yes, it’s arguably an effective way to get rid of your breakouts, but gosh. The side effects of it, friends… they’re seriously bad and totally not worth it, period.
Now, the mechanism of action for Accutane for acne is pretty similar to that of vitamin B5 for acne. Because it’s a vitamin A derivative, it can help treat your breakouts, and the link between taking vitamin A and acne is undisputed.
However, why in the world would you want to take such a dangerous medication when much better options exist? If you’re looking for a reliable, proven, and – most importantly! – safe alternative to Accutane, then you need a treatment that will go after what’s causing the acne.
Remember, acne is a systemic issue, and it’s largely a hormonal one, too. This means that any imbalances in your body could be leading to your skin issues. And taking harsh medications like Accutane doesn’t address the underlying problems that are leading to your breakouts.
If you’re wanting to achieve clear skin, you’re going to need a hormonal acne supplement that goes after what’s triggering those breakouts, instead of just masking the problem. If you choose one with a clinically tested formula, it’ll contain not only a hearty dose of vitamin A (but without the toxic side effects of Accutane) but also enough B5 to eradicate your breakouts once and for all.
In this case, you’re going to want a combination of vitamin B5 for acne, as well as vitamin A (but not too much, since it’s fat-soluble), and even a hearty dose of diindolylmethane (DIM) to help put your hormones back into balance. Used as adjunctive therapy to a good skincare regimen and healthy lifestyle habits, they can help get rid of what’s causing your zits for good. (19 & 20)
In many cases, B5 can actually clear your skin on its own. However, combined with other essential vitamins and nutrients, you can tackle your breakouts from all angles and put your acne into complete remission. And the best part is, you won’t have to burn down your proverbial house in the process.
How Much Pantothenic Acid Should I Take?
We’ve already kinda touched on this before, but it’s important to remember that vitamin B5 is a water-soluble vitamin. In other words, it doesn’t get stored in your organs when you take it, which means it’s impossible to have a lethal overdose on it. If you take too much of it, your body will just excrete it in your urine when you go to the restroom. (21)
What does this mean for dosage, then? Well, you want to take enough to actually help your body. That said, you don’t want to take too much, as it’ll just get flushed out and be wasted.
In one study, researchers gave their subjects a whopping 8.8 grams – not milligrams, but actual grams – of vitamin B5 per day. Of all the participants in the study, not a single one of them had adverse effects that resulted from their dose of pantothenic acid. Furthermore, they found a statistically significant improvement in both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesion count. (18)
What does that mean for you? When it comes to taking vitamin B5 for acne, the more the merrier. However, since you really don’t want to waste the vitamin, it doesn’t hurt to be a little bit conservative at first.
If you find that a lower dose doesn’t work as well, you can always titrate it up to a stronger dose, until you find that sweet spot that puts you into total acne remission. For most people, anywhere between 150-225mg of pantothenic acid can do the trick to help clear your skin.
If you need more? Totally fine. It won’t hurt you, and taking this vitamin will only help – not only with your acne breakouts, but also your overall health, too.
Having acne is the pits. There’s really no other way to say it, honestly. It’s literally physically painful, and the emotional damage it can inflict upon you can’t be overstated, either. (22)
Wanting to get rid of it once and for all is a completely valid response. And wanting clear skin doesn’t mean you’re shallow, vapid, or a bad person. It just means that you’ve struggled with your skin condition long enough, and you’re ready to have a clear, healthy, radiant, and glowing complexion.
Fortunately, you don’t have to fry your liver with harsh prescription medications to get clear skin. All you need to do is take a closer look at your diet and make a couple of subtle changes to it to restore balance to your system. By adding in a few extra vitamins and supplements, you can finally get that clear skin you deserve.
It’s been proven that vitamin B5 is nothing short of miraculous when it comes to treating acne, and unlike drugs like Accutane, it’s also completely safe. If you’re tired of feeling down about yourself when you look in the mirror, then you need to start taking this vitamin STAT.
You absolutely deserve to feel like the beautiful person that we know you are. And by taking vItamin B5, you can finally start to feel confident in your skin once more, without the acne breakouts that have been holding you back.
Listen, you don’t have to live with acne. All it takes is a simple and natural treatment to help you get that clear skin you desire. With so much to gain, and nothing to lose, taking vitamin B5 for acne is more than worth it – and more importantly, so are you.
Source 1: How Acne Bumps Cause the Blues: The Influence of Acne Vulgaris on Self-Esteem https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6047192/
Source 2: Nutrition and acne https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21034984
Source 3: Pantothenic Acid - Consumer https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/PantothenicAcid-Consumer/
Source 4: The Nutrition Source - Pantothenic Acid – Vitamin B5 https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pantothenic-acid-vitamin-b5
Source 5: Biochemistry, Water Soluble Vitamins - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538510/
Source 6: Physiology, Homeostasis - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559138/
Source 7: Effect of coenzyme A on triglyceride and very-low-density lipoproteins secretion in cultured rat hepatocytes https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1478793/
Source 8: Acne Vulgaris and Intake of Selected Dietary Nutrients—A Summary of Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8226785/
Source 9: Sebaceous gland lipids https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835893/
Source 10: The effect of a daily facial cleanser for normal to oily skin on the skin barrier of subjects with acne https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16910029/
Source 11: A review of the role of sebum in the mechanism of acne pathogenesis https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28556292/
Source 12: Recent advances in understanding Propionibacterium acnes (Cutibacterium acnes) in acne https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6305227/
Source 13: The long-term relationship between dietary pantothenic acid (vitamin B 5) intake and C-reactive protein concentration in adults aged 40 years and older https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28739188/
Source 14: Metabolism of Dietary and Microbial Vitamin B Family in the Regulation of Host Immunity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478888/
Source 15: Cutibacterium acnes: the Urgent Need To Identify Diagnosis Markers https://journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/IAI.00753-20
Source 16: Pantothenic acid deficiency as the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7476595/
Source 17: The potential role of B5: A stitch in time and switch in cytokine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31691401/
Source 18: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of a Novel Pantothenic Acid-Based Dietary Supplement in Subjects with Mild to Moderate Facial Acne https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4065280/
Source 19: Biochemistry, Fat Soluble Vitamins - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534869/
Source 20: Dietary intervention in acne https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3408989/
Source 21: Relationship Between Urinary Concentrations of Nine Water-soluble Vitamins and their Vitamin Intakes in Japanese Adult Males https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4134006/
Source 22: What is Acne? Definition & Types https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/acne
Co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare
By: Kayleigh Christina
Holistic Nutritionist Kayleigh Christina is the co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that targets acne, anti-aging, and scar reversing utilizing premium ingredients. Christina’s journey into the skincare world started when she developed numerous health issues, including severe cystic acne in her mid-twenties and tried in vain to find a cure.