Facts and Food Sources of Arachidonic acid


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 Sources

Food name Weight (g) Arachidonic acid (g)
Lamb brains 113 0.175
Lamb kidney 113 0.162
Lamb liver 113 0.140
Beef sweetbread 113 0.050
Beef lean 85 0.042
Lamb fore-shank 85 0.035
Lamb tongue 85 0.033
Beef bolar blade 85 0.032
Lamb breast lean 85 0.031
Beef oyster blade 113 0.024
Beef striploin 85 0.021
Beef cooked 85 0.020
Lamb roasted 85 0.020
Hamburger 117 0.014
Lamb shoulder 85 0.014
Beef brisket navel end 113 0.011
Lamb flap 113 0.015
Lamb loin chop 85 0.017
Beef braised 85 0.014


Health Benefits of Arachidonic acid

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Liver health

Supplementation of oil rich in arachidonic acid lowered liver damage significantly in ethanol treated rats.

  1. 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.







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