Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is an organic compound found in folic acid vitamin. It is therefore considered to be partially a member of the vitamin B-complex. However, it is not really a vitamin but an amino-acid that is part of folic acid. It has the same chemical structure as sulphonamides .The para-aminobenzoil moiety of PABA renders it a vitamin B complex factor and a component of folacin as well. Other dietary sources that contain PABA include grains, milk, meat and eggs. It can be synthesized in the body hence considered a non-essential nutrient in humans. However, PABA despite being made by the body is not synthesized directly since we do not produce the necessary enzymes required for its formation. Instead intestinal bacteria such as Escherichia Coli in the intestines executes this task by utilizing the enzymes 4-amino-4-deoxychorismate lyase and 4-amino-4-deoxychorismate synthetase on chorismate. Plants also have the ability to synthesize PABA using chloroplasts .Nonetheless, PABA is used in the synthesis of folic acid which is an essential nutrient.
First, PABA is important for healthy hair and skin. It protects the hair follicles reducing the onset of wrinkles and keeping it smooth. Notably, the potassium salt of PABA is beneficial for the maintenance of a healthy skin and hair. It helps maintain a consistent skin tone with a soft texture. It prevents or reverses the accumulation of abnormal fibrous tissues. It is also protective against harmful ultraviolet light from the sun. It has the ability to absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun thus minimizing damage to the skin (Cholangitis).
Additionally, PABA together with pantothenic acid maintains the health and pigmentation of hair. PABA has the ability to restore graying hair to its original color. Its effectiveness is improved when it is used in combination with inositol and pantothenic acid.
PABA influences energy production as it functions in the breakdown and utilization of proteins (PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid): The Vitamin that functions in the breakdown and utilization of proteins and in the formation of blood cells, 2012). PABA is also beneficial in reducing fatigue and reversing the effects of depression. It also exerts anti-inflammatory effects by relieving pain and swelling. PABA also enhances the action and effects of some hormones such as estrogen, cortisone and others by delaying their metabolism in the liver. This may be responsible for its role in the maintaining of reproductive glands.
As a precursor of folic acid PABA is necessary for the synthesis of folic acid by gut bacteria that in turn stimulate the synthesis of B-5. As such, PABA is necessary in the formation of red blood cells. The PABA biosynthetic enzymes that take part in the biosynthesis of folate include PabA, PabB and PAbC.
PABA also helps with the digestion process. It acts as a coenzyme in various metabolic body processes that help support intestinal bacteria that are essential for proper digestion. It functions as a co-enzyme in amino-acid metabolism and red blood cell formation. Human cells require folate cofactors to act as acceptor or donor one carbon units in the various biosynthetic processes that take place in the body such as the formation of purines and pyrimidine. This also helps with its immunomodulating function. Since PABA is readily available from dietary sources and intestinal bacteria, nutritional deficiency of PABA is rare. Nonetheless, PABA does not have a definite set recommended Daily Allowance.