acid, Vitamin B-x)
Para-aminobenzoic Acid (PABA)is often thought of as a member of the B
complex but is not a true vitamin. PABA is part of the structure of Folic
Acid. PABA itself is readily available in food and is made by our
intestinal bacteria. It is known specifically for its nourishment to hair
and its usefulness as a sunscreen.
PABA is found in liver, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, whole grains such
as rice, eggs, and molasses. It is stored in body tissues and is also
synthesized by the natural bacteria flora in our intestines.
Para-aminobenzoic acid, as part of the coenzyme tetrahydrofolic acid,
aids in the metabolism and utilization of amino acids and is also
supportive of blood cells, particularly the red blood cells. PABA supports
folic acid production by the intestinal bacteria. PABA is important to
skin, hair pigment, and intestinal health. Used as a sunscreen, it also
can protect against the development of sunburn and skin cancer from excess
ultraviolet light exposure.
Although PABA has been much used in attempts to stimulate hair growth
and to turn gray hair back to its natural color, it has not had wide
success in such uses. It may work in some cases that are related to a PABA
deficiency. If graying of hair is caused by vitamin deficiency, it is
likely a deficiency of a combination of vitamins, mostly the various Bs.
PABA is usually used along with biotin, pantothenic acid, and folic acid
in the restoration of hair, often with vitamin E as well. PABA is also
used to reduce aging of the skin and lessen wrinkles. Vitiligo, a skin
depigmenting condition, which could result from deficient hydrochloric
acid, vitamin C, or pantothenic acid, may be helped somewhat by PABA, both
orally and as a cream. PABA ointment is used commonly to prevent and treat
sunburns and, with vitamin E, is often applied to other burns.
Deficiency and toxicity: It is possible that high
doses of PABA can be somewhat irritating to the liver; in addition, nausea
and vomiting have occurred, as have anorexia, fever, skin rash, and even
vitiligo. Deficiency problems are not very common; they occur more
frequently with the use of sulfa or other antibiotics that alter the
functioning of intestinal bacteria and, therefore, the production of PABA.
General fatigue, irritability, depression, nervousness, graying hair,
headache, and constipation or other digestive symptoms may occur. Several
patients have told me that they are "sensitive" to PABA in vitamin
formulae and, thus, cannot take them (most vitamin combinations contain
PABA). I do not know what this reaction is unless it is some allergy to
the para-amino-benzoic acid molecule.
Requirements:No RDA is listed for PABA. It is
available in supplements of 50–1,000 mg. Up to 1,000 mg. are used
therapeutically in a time-released capsule, although the common treatment
amount is usually about 50–100 mg. three times daily. If we take
antibiotics, we might increase our intake of PABA for a while, although
PABA taken with sulfa antibiotics may reduce their effectiveness. A
therapeutic approach used by some authorities to attempt to restore normal
hair color is 1,000 mg., time-released, daily for six days a week, taken
with 400 mcg. of folic acid.