Para-aminobenzoic acid (vitamin Bx, PABA) – sources, benefits, dosage, deficiency, overdose, toxicity


PABA review

• Basics: a non-protein amino acid acting as a cofactor of the vitamin B complex.

• Benefits: important for healthy hair and skin, provides protection against ozone, smoking, and other air pollutants.

• Dosage: 30 to 100 mg daily, three times a day.

• Sources: bran, eggs, kidney, liver, molasses, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, and yogurt.

• Deficiency: PABA deficiency causes fatigue, irritability, depression, nervousness, headache, constipation.

• Overdose: overdoses cause low blood sugar, rash, fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Para-aminobenzoic acid (vitamin Bx, PABA)

PABA is a naturally-occurring, water-soluble compound which is found in many foods as a cofactor of the vitamin B complex (associated with folate). Para-aminobenzoic acid or PABA is a non-protein amino acid that is widely distributed in nature. PABA is an intermediate in the synthesis of folic acid in bacteria. The sulfonamide antibiotics are structurally similar to PABA and interfere with the synthesis of nucleic acids in sensitive micro-organisms by blocking the conversion of PABA to the co-enzyme dihydrofolic acid, a reduced form of folic acid. In humans, dihydrofolic acid is obtained from dietary folic acid. Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), a component of pteroylglutamate, was once considered a vitamin and named vitamin B-x because it serves as a provitamin for some bacteria. Later studies in humans demonstrated that it does not have vitamin activity because humans lack the ability to synthesize folate from PABA.

Para-aminobenzoic acid (vitamin Bx, PABA) functions, uses, and health benefits

The most well-known property of PABA is as an effective sunscreen, when used topically. Para-aminobenzoic acid is a chemical sunscreen which absorbs ultraviolet (UV) and visible sun light. As an antioxidant, PABA also provides protection against ozone, smoking, and other air pollutants which damage other cell structures and membranes through oxidative stress. Limiting exposure to the sun and using sunscreen agents can help prevent early wrinkling and skin cancer. PABA is important for healthy hair and skin, and taking it in supplement form may prevent hair loss by protecting hair follicles. Pharmaceutical doses of PABA are indicated for Peyronie’s disease, scleroderma, morphea and linear scleroderma. It is also effective in the treatment of vitiligo, a condition that causes discoloration of the skin. PABA has been reported to enhance the effects of cortisone. It may also prevent or even reverse accumulation of abnormal fibrous tissue.

Para-aminobenzoic acid (vitamin Bx, PABA) dosage, intake, recommended daily allowance (RDA)

The usual dose of PABA is between 30 to 100 mg. three times a day. In addition to PABA, the potassium salt of PABA called POTABA is available on prescription. POTABA is indicated for Peyronie’s Disease and scleroderma. The dose used for these disorders is 12 grams daily taken in four to six divided doses with meals. The dose for Peyronie’s disease and scleroderma is high and must only be used under medical supervision. Anyone taking more than 400 mg of PABA per day should consult a physician.

Sources of para-aminobenzoic acid (vitamin Bx, PABA)

Natural sources of PABA include bran, eggs, kidney, liver, molasses, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, and yogurt. Dietary sources of PABA include bran, kidney, liver, brewer’s yeast, molasses, whole grains, wheat germ, yogurt, mushrooms, blackstrap molasses, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, and spinach. In humans, PABA is biosynthesized by intestinal bacteria and appears to be vital to their metabolism.

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) deficiency

deficiency in Paba may cause fatigue, irritability, depression, nervousness, headache, constipation and other digestive disorders. A deficiency of PABA may also lead to depression, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, graying of the hair, irritability, and patchy areas of white skin.

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) overdose, toxicity, side effects

No serious side effects have been reported with 300-400 mg per day. Larger amounts (such as 8 grams per day or more) may cause low blood sugar, rash, fever, and (on rare occasions) liver damage. High doses (8g or more daily) of PABA can cause blood sugar to drop and may induce a rash, fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. In rare cases it can cause liver function abnormalities. Some people experience allergic reactions to topical PABA but this does not necessarily mean that it cannot be taken orally.



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