Arachidonic acid abbreviated as AA and ARA is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid 20:4(ω-6) or 20:4. Structurally, it is related to saturated arachidic acid present in cupuacu butter. This acid is unsaturated and essential fatty acid which is found in human and animal fat and also in brain, liver and glandular organs. It is a constituent of animal phosphatides. It has four cis double bonds which are the sources of flexibility and provides capacity to react with molecular oxygen. It is developed by synthesis from dietary linoleic acid. Arachidonic acid is the precursor to a number of eicosanoids (e.g., prostaglandins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes) that are involved in platelet aggregation, hemodynamics and coronary vascular tone.
It is involved in early neurological development. Supplements of arachidonic acid for 17 weeks showed improvements significantly in intelligence. This effect is further upgraded by simultaneous supplementation of ARA with DHA. In adults, disorganized metabolism of ARA is associated with neurological disorders such as Bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease. It involves significant alterations in conversion of Arachidonic acid to other bioactive molecules. Dietary intake of Arachidonic acid is not related with onset of Alzheimer’s disease and studies show that supplements of Aachidonic acid during early stages of disease effectively lower symptoms and slow progression of disease.
|Food name||Weight (g)||Arachidonic acid (g)|
|Beef bolar blade||85||0.032|
|Lamb breast lean||85||0.031|
|Beef oyster blade||113||0.024|
|Beef brisket navel end||113||0.011|
|Lamb loin chop||85||0.017|
Health Benefits of Arachidonic acid
- Development of infants
Arachidonic acid plays a crucial role in development of infants and found at consistent levels in breast milk. Breast milk is crucial for infants as it naturally supplements AA and is less than body requirement. In developed countries, it is also added to infant formulas. Before birth, AA is supplemented to fetus through placenta. Study conducted on 2474 women found that average concentration of AA present in breast milk is 0.47%. Archidonic acid is valuable for infant growth, health and brain development.
- Crucial for muscle health
Supplementation of Arachidonic acid promotes levels of energy and lowered inflammation but had no significant effects on muscle strength or mass. Other study was conducted on 30 strength trained males who were supplemented with archidonic acid or placebo for eight weeks. In AA group, it enhanced lean body mass, peak power and upper body strength.
- Treat infections
Studies evaluated safety and effectiveness of arachidonic acid in treating parasites in Egypt. Supplement of AA about 10 mg/kg for 15 days alone cured moderate number of students. When combined with anti-parasitic drug, the cure rates improved significantly and were higher than with praziquantel alone.
- Supports brain health
Arachidonic acid with its products involve in various functions of brain which includes signal transmission, brain cell gene expression, neurotransmitter release, sleep/wake cycle, blood flow to the brain and appetite. Abnormal metabolism of AA is involved in various brain or psychological disorders such as stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, mood disorders and Parkinson’s.
- Liver health
Supplementation of oil rich in arachidonic acid lowered liver damage significantly in ethanol treated rats.
- Treatment of diabetes
The major cause for type-2 diabetes is abnormal function of beta-cells that releases insulin needed for regulation of glucose. Two studies show that arachidonic acid stimulates beta-cell growth and secretion of insulin. Arachidonic acid regulates or protects beta-cells that is useful for patients suffering from type 2 diabetes.
In preterm infants, deficiency of arachidonic acid causes exacerbated after birth while they are growing rapidly. It could result weakened and fragile vessels which damages central nervous system. Deficiency of AA compromises immune response of infants. Other several studies conducted on adults and children with learning disorders such as dyslexia, ADHD and autism have low levels of AA.