What Is Arachidonic Acid?
Arachidonic acid is a major essential (must have/can’t make) omega-6 fatty acid.
Structurally, arachidonic acid is a key component of nerve membranes, together with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a major opposing omega-3 fatty acid, making up 15-20% of the brain’s dry mass and more than 30% of the retina.
In healthy human volunteers, positron emission tomography (PET) has shown that the normal human brain consumes 17.8 mg/day of arachidonic acid.1
Arachidonic acid is particularly concentrated in highly active membranes such as nerve synapses (junctions) and in photoreceptors in the eye retina.2
Arachidonic acid is an important building substance for the eicosanoids.
Q: What function do the eicosanoids have that are derived from arachidonic acid?
A: Eicosanoids are a large group of highly bioactive hormone-like substances including prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and thromboxanes that are involved in blood clotting, inflammation, and vasoconstriction. Eicosanoids derived from arachidonic acid are pro-inflammatory, pro-blood clotting, and constrict blood vessels in opposition to those derived from the omega-3 fatty acids which do the opposite in order to keep a balance in the body.
What Is Arachidonic Acid Deficiency In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?
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Rapoport SI. Brain arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acid cascades are selectively altered by drugs, diet and disease. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2008 Sep-Nov;79(3-5):153-6. Epub 2008 Oct 29. ↩
Richardson AJ. The importance of omega-3 fatty acids for behavior, cognition, and mood. Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition. 2003;47(2):92-8. ↩