PABA (para-amino benzoic acid)

PABA (para-amino benzoic acid)

Authored By Murigi

PABA stands for para-amino benzoic acid.  This is an organic compound that the body can make through normal bacteria activity in the gut. It is part of folic acid and therefore it is necessary for the formation of this member of the vitamin B complex group. It is noteworthy that human beings cannot make this compound directly in their bodies but need bacterial activity to do this. Any interference with this process may therefore lead to impaired production of PABA.

Some people group PABA together with the vitamin in the B complex group. It has even been given such names as vitamin B10 or vitamin Bx. It is however, not a vitamin since its properties greatly differ from those of vitamins. It is an amino acid that forms part of the folic acid molecule.

Plants can naturally make PABA and therefore forms part of the food sources of the compound. Synthetic forms are also available.

The main area of action for PABA is on the skin. It offers some sunscreen protection properties. It protects the skin against ultraviolet radiation. It has however other health benefits for the whole body.

Signs and symptoms of possible PABA deficiency

Outright PABA deficiency is rare. However, if there is gross and prolonged disturbance of the normal microorganisms’ activity in the gut, the resulting imbalance can increase the risk of PABA deficiency. Other health issues can also arise from this. One of the causes of gut microbiota imbalance is a prolonged use of antibiotics. Some of the symptoms of deficiency include:

  • Premature skin aging and wrinkles
  • Premature grey hairs
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Growth retardation
  • Abnormal inflammatory issues
  • Skin disorders such as wet eczema
  • Digestive problems
  • General ill-health

Sources of PABA

The gut bacteria (E. coli) can synthesize PABA. This is how the body can get it from a non-dietary source. Foods rich in this compound can be from both animals and plants. Plant sources include:

  • Edible mushrooms
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • molasses
  • Whole grains
  • Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli. Kale, spinach, and others
  • Asparagus
  • Sunflower seeds

Nutritional supplements are yet another source of PABA). Using supplements helps to meet the body’s needs of the substance. A good nutritional supplement used for the purpose of maintaining and promoting good personal health usually has more than one ingredient.  Take for example Belisan’s Daily Multivitamin Essential.  

This product has many vitamins and minerals in its list of ingredients. Three of these ingredients are inositol, folic acid, and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). It is thought that the three work in synergy with PABA for grey hair prevention and probably reversal of hair that is already grey. In addition to that, it helps in the metabolism of vitamin B5.

The combination of folic acid, biotin, vitamin B5, and vitamin E has also been used by some aestheticians    as a measure against, and in restoration, of hair loss. All these are available as ingredients in the daily multivitamin Essential supplement. It must however be noted that premature hair loss may be a sign of underlying health conditions and should be investigated by a health specialist.

The health benefits of PABA

Maintaining healthy levels of PABA in the body supports overall good health. The specific areas of benefits include:

  • Healthy skin. It has ultra-violet radiation protection properties
  • Helps maintain healthy hair
  • Supports carbohydrate and fat synthesis. This helps the body to have adequate energy levels
  • Reduces the risk of vitiligo. This is a skin pigmentation disorder where the skin develops isolated white patches
  • Helps in the body’s utilization of vitamin B5
  • Supports brain functions
  • Supports good fertility in women
  • Supports the synthesis of proteins
  • Supports the digestive system. One of the ways it does this is through the support of normal balance of the friendly microorganisms in the gut.
  • Plays a role in the formation of red blood cells
  • Prevention of sun damage to the skin

Side effects of PABA

PABA is a generally safe product. This is true where the recommended dose is not exceeded. Usually up to 400mg of PABA are tolerated without any issues. Where high doses are used (no reason to), potentially serious side effects can occur. These include:

  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Skin rash
  • Body hotness
  • Skin pigmentation issues
  • Liver damage

The more serious side effects of PABA are in most cases dose related. However, PABA related allergies have been reported and in such a situation potentially serious health issues can arise even from very small doses.


PABA should not be used at the same time with medications containing sulfur.  These are medications in the class called sulfonamides. They include:

  • The combination of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Sulfisoxazole
  • Avlosulfon (Dapson).

PABA reduces the rate of cortisone breakdown. If used at the same time then cortisone will accumulate in the body where its action as well as its side effects will be potentiated.

People on the chemo drug, methotrexate should also not use PABA products. 


Use of PABA in people suffering from diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease or any other chronic condition should be approached with caution. It is important to seek guidance from your doctor.  Pregnant and lactating mothers may need to talk to their doctors since it is not known how PABA may affect the unborn child or whether it is excreted in breastmilk.

PABA allergies do exist. Any history of such an event is a total contraindication of its use.


When PABA is used within the recommended dosage, it forms an import part of personal health care efforts. When available in a supplement with other ingredient it can work together with some of these ingredients to offer more superior health benefits. Vitamins such as folic acid, biotin, vitamin B5, and vitamin E, are thought to offer such health benefits synergy when used together with PABA.

With this knowledge, always look for a multivitamin product that is well-balanced in such a way that, while you stand to benefit from individual health benefits of PABA on its own, there are even more benefits to experience when it works together with the other ingredient in the supplement.

To learn more about such a product or to make a purchase, click here.

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