Arachidonic Acid

Arachidonic Acid

Build Muscle / Aid Overall Health

Arachidonic acid is an essential fatty acid that falls under the omega 6 fatty acid category. Interestingly, there is some contention about whether arachidonic acid is actually an essential fatty acid since the body can produce very small amounts of arachidonic acid on its own.

Technically, to be an essential fatty acid, the body must ingest it from another source rather than being able to make it on its own. However, because the body cannot produce enough to support the functions that arachidonic acid aids in the body, most medical websites and nutritional websites rate it as an essential fatty acid rather than a non-essential one.

For this purpose of this article, it will be considered an essential fatty acid as well. This article will the best ways to obtain this substance for optimal nutrition, its functions, and concerns about this nutrient.

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Where to Get Arachidonic Acid Arachidonic acid is found in fatty foods or in the fat of lean foods. You can find arachidonic acid in red meat, pork, poultry, eggs and more. Because arachidonic acid is found in the fat portion of your food, it is important to moderate your intake, as that a... more

Where to Get Arachidonic Acid

Arachidonic acid is found in fatty foods or in the fat of lean foods. You can find arachidonic acid in red meat, pork, poultry, eggs and more. Because arachidonic acid is found in the fat portion of your food, it is important to moderate your intake, as that additional fat is not good for you.

Because arachidonic acid is a nonsaturated fatty acid, many people mistake it for a good fat. The truth, however, is that this fatty acid comes from animal fat and just like any other fat, if you eat too much, then you can do more harm than good to your body.

Arachidonic Acid Supplements

Another way to get arachidonic acid into your body is through supplements. You can get arachidonic acid supplements in gel capsules, pills or in powder form. The most common form is powder because the absorption rate is more complete. However, this supplement is bitter tasting, so many people put it into a citrus drink to hide the flavor.

You will also find that arachidonic acid is combined with other supplements as well as being sold on their own. The price range for these product can be anywhere from $10 to $100 depending on how much you purchase as well as what is combined with the arachidonic acid.

Arachidonic Acid Functions

Arachidonic acid has many proven functions and some functions that are currently being tested under study. Because arachidonic acid is an essential fatty acid, there are several clinical studies currently underway to determine the efficacy of arachidonic acid in many areas.

One of these areas is how it affects the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients in the early stages of the disease. Early indicators suggest that arachidonic acid could aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and slow down the progression of the disease for patients who already have Alzheimer’s.

Arachidonic acid helps to create prostaglandin, which aids in the function of muscles, more specifically, prostaglandin ensures that the muscles contract and relax properly while in use. This is a function important to everyone, but especially to body builders and athletes.

It also helps with the contraction and building of blood vessels, controls blood pressure and modulates the inflammation in the muscles. One form, prostaglandin, also aids in the clotting of blood while another form of prostaglandin prevents clotting in areas where there should be none. This second form of prostaglandin, called PGE2, is sometimes used to induce labor in pregnant women.

Arachidonic acid also helps to prevent the formation of acid in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, it increases the emission of shielding mucus, which can help prevent ulcers and other bleeding stomach issues.

In addition, it aids in the repair and growth of skeletal muscle and tissue. It plays a special role in the development of muscle in children and without it children will not develop the necessary muscle to be healthy.

Arachidonic Acid and Inflammation

This fatty acid is a pro-inflammatory acid, which means that it increases inflammation in the tissues and muscles. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you have an inflammatory disease. The inflammation can be reduced by taking aspirin or by eating anti-inflammatory foods or taking other supplements. 

It is this inflammation that has body builders and weight trainers sitting up and taking notice. It is assumed that since this is an inflammatory that when you work out while taking arachidonic acid that the muscles will have an extra inflammation boost and you will get more benefit from the workout.

This has not been proven in study. In fact, in some studies, there was no additional inflammation after workout at all. However, a Baylor University study on 30 men for 50 days showed that when the men were taking a 1200mg daily arachidonic acid supplement that there was improvement in peak muscle power as well as muscle endurance.

It is important to note that this study was not long enough to prove the benefits of using arachidonic acid and that these results are considered preliminary. Currently Baylor University is not continuing with this study to prove any longitudinal results, as their intention for the study was to show that there were NO benefits to taking arachidonic acid supplements for weight lifters.

Arachidonic Acid and Brain Development

Studies conducted by the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development conducted a study with babies 18 months old to determine value of arachidonic acid on the development of the brain. This 17-week study showed a significant increase of intelligence levels in these children. Further studies are currently being conducted on the benefits for this use.

Past studies have already shown the benefit of arachidonic acid in the memory function of adults. These studies were what led to the studies on actual brain development during childhood.

As a recap, arachidonic acid:

  • Aids in clotting at the site of the injury
  • Aids in memory function in adults
  • Aids in the proper function of muscles
  • Has been extensively studied
  • Helps children’s bodies and brains develop
  • Is currently being studied for new uses
  • Is an essential fatty acid
  • Is used to induce labor
  • May aid weight lifters in reaching new goals
  • May benefit Alzheimer’s patients

Arachidonic Acid Side Effects and Concerns

As mentioned above arachidonic acid comes from fat. Studies conclusively prove that too much arachidonic acid can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke. What’s more, too much arachidonic acid in the system is toxic and can lead to your death. This is why you shouldn’t take arachidonic acid unless you are under the supervision of a doctor.

If you get too much arachidonic acid you may experience insomnia, fatigue, rashes, constipation, flaky skin, brittle hair, heart disease and an increase in your cholesterol.

Because arachidonic acid can induce labor, you should never take it while pregnant or if you are trying to get pregnant. It can cause spontaneous abortion in pregnant women. In addition, you should not take arachidonic acid if you  have:

  • Cancer
  • Asthma
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • An enlarged prostate
  • An inflammatory disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

No matter what, you shouldn’t take arachidonic acid without the knowledge and approval of your doctor. This is especially true if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications.

It is a common misconception that you will be safe as long as what you are taking is natural. Don’t forget, poison ivy is natural too and you wouldn’t simply eat it just because it grows in nature.

To locate safe nutritional products to use along with your doctor's approval, just go to the free supplement finder now!


  • Side Effects
  • Other Names
  • Uses
Brittle Hair
Flaky Skin
Heart Disease
Increased Cholesterol
Labor Induction
Blood Pressure
Brain Development
Muscle Function
Induce Labor