Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) for the European population, including pantothenic acid.
In 1993, the Scientific Committee for Food (SCF) proposed an Acceptable Range of Intakes of pantothenic acid for adults of 3–12 mg/day, based on observed intakes of pantothenic acid in European countries, which were considered adequate to meet requirements and prevent deficiency.
Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, which is a component of coenzyme A (CoA) and acyl-carrier proteins. Pantothenic acid is ubiquitous and deficiency is rare. Foods rich in pantothenic acid include meat (products), eggs, nuts, avocados and cruciferous vegetables. The main contributors to pantothenic acid intakes include meat products, bread, milk-based products and vegetables.
Data on pantothenic acid absorption are lacking. Most of the pantothenic acid in tissues is present as CoA, mainly found in mitochondria, with lesser amounts present as acyl-carrier protein and free pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid is excreted in urine, after hydrolysis of CoA in a multistep reaction.
Urinary excretion of pantothenic acid and, to a lesser extent, pantothenic acid concentration in whole blood or erythrocytes reflect pantothenic acid intake. Data from the general population are limited so that the variability characteristics of these biomarkers and their ability to discriminate between pantothenic acid insufficiency and adequacy are not well known. No cut-off values have been established for these biomarkers. The Panel considers that there are no suitable biomarkers that can be used to derive the Average Requirement (AR) for pantothenic acid.
Data available on pantothenic acid intakes and health consequences are very limited and cannot be used for deriving DRVs for pantothenic acid.
As the evidence to derive an AR and thus a Population Reference Intake is considered insufficient, an Adequate Intake (AI) is proposed for all population groups. There is no indication that the AI should differ according to sex. The setting of AIs is based on observed pantothenic acid intakes with a mixed diet and the apparent absence of signs of deficiency in the EU, suggesting that current intake levels are adequate. Estimates of pantothenic acid intakes in children and adolescents, adults and older adults were available from eight EU countries. In boys and girls (3–12 years), mean/median intakes of 3.0 to 5.7 mg/day were reported, while mean/median intakes of 3.0 to 7.2 mg/day were observed in adolescent boys and girls (11–19 years). In adult men and women below about 65 years, mean/median intakes of 3.2 to 6.3 mg/day were reported, while mean/median intakes were between 2.2 and 6.0 mg/day in older men and women. Data on pantothenic acid intakes in pregnancy were scarce.
The AI for adults is set at 5 mg/day. The AI for adults also applies to pregnant women. For lactating women, an AI of 7 mg/day is proposed, to compensate for pantothenic acid losses through breast milk. For infants over six months, an AI of 3 mg/day is proposed by extrapolating from the pantothenic acid intake of exclusively breast-fed infants aged zero to six months, using allometric scaling (body weight to the power of 0.75) and reference body weight for each age group, in order to account for the role of pantothenic acid in energy metabolism, and rounding to the nearest unit. The AIs for children and adolescents are set at 4 and 5 mg/day, respectively, based on observed intakes in the EU.