PABA or para-aminobenzoic acid is a component of folic acid, which is a member of the B family of vitamins. PABA is found in foods such as eggs, molasses, rice, yeast, wheat germ, whole grains, spinach, mushrooms, kidney and liver. It can also be made by intestinal bacteria. In addition, B-complex or folic acid supplements contain PABA.
PABA was discovered by a biochemist in California named Ernst T. Krebs. In 1948, he isolated a substance he called vitamin B-15 from rice bran and found that it contained a group of compounds, including PABA, inositol, choline and amygdalin. Krebs believed these were nutrients important to health and longevity, but did not attribute their deficiencies to specific diseases. Required dose ranges for PABA are not known.
PABA plays a role in protein utilization and breakdown, the formation of red blood cells, and is important to the health of your intestines, hair and skin. It is an antioxidant that helps prevent damage to cell membranes. Because it reduces the absorption of harmful ultraviolet radiation, it protects your skin from sunburn and cancerous changes. It can also be used to treat depigmentation of the skin and hair.
Because of its ability to block ultraviolet radiation, PABA is a common ingredient in sunscreens as well as skin lotions. It can also rapidly ease the pain of sunburn and other skin burns, but may itself have cancer-causing effects. If you have a B vitamin deficiency that is causing your hair to turn gray or white, taking PABA and folic acid every day may help restore you natural color.
While maintenance doses of PABA in supplements are typically no more than 30 milligrams a day, anywhere between 50 to 100 milligrams several times a day are considered therapeutic, you should not take more than 1,000 milligrams daily. While deficiencies in PABA may result in symptoms like fatigue, irritability and digestive upset, you may experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fever, skin rash or depigmentation. If you are allergic to PABA in topical preparations, your skin may become irritated.
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