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Arachidonic Acid in Human Milk

Nutrition Science & Advocacy, DSM Nutritional Products, Columbia, MD 21045, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2020, 12(3), 626;
Received: 20 January 2020 / Revised: 15 February 2020 / Accepted: 20 February 2020 / Published: 27 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Milk, HMO, Lactation and Application in Infant Feeding)
Breastfeeding is universally recommended as the optimal choice of infant feeding and consequently human milk has been extensively investigated to unravel its unique nutrient profile. The human milk lipid composition is unique and supplies specifically long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), in particular, arachidonic acid (ARA, 20:4n–6) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n–3). Arachidonic acid (ARA) is the most predominant long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid in human milk, albeit at low concentrations as compared to other fatty acids. It occurs predominantly in the triglyceride form and to a lesser extent as milk fat globule membrane phospholipids. Human milk ARA levels are modulated by dietary intake as demonstrated by animal and human studies and consequently vary dependent on dietary habits among mothers and regions across the globe. ARA serves as a precursor to eicosanoids and endocannabinoids that also occur in human milk. A review of scientific and clinical studies reveals that ARA plays an important role in physiological development and its related functions during early life nutrition. Therefore, ARA is an important nutrient during infancy and childhood and, as such, appropriate attention is required regarding its nutritional status and presence in the infant diet. Data are emerging indicating considerable genetic variation in encoding for desaturases and other essential fatty acid metabolic enzymes that may influence the ARA level as well as other LC-PUFAs. Human milk from well-nourished mothers has adequate levels of both ARA and DHA to support nutritional and developmental needs of infants. In case breastfeeding is not possible and infant formula is being fed, experts recommend that both ARA and DHA are added at levels present in human milk. View Full-Text
Keywords: arachidonic acid; human milk; nutritional influences; lipid composition; eicosanoids; endocannabinoids arachidonic acid; human milk; nutritional influences; lipid composition; eicosanoids; endocannabinoids
MDPI and ACS Style

Salem, N., Jr.; Van Dael, P. Arachidonic Acid in Human Milk. Nutrients 2020, 12, 626.

AMA Style

Salem N Jr., Van Dael P. Arachidonic Acid in Human Milk. Nutrients. 2020; 12(3):626.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Salem, Norman, Jr., and Peter Van Dael. 2020. "Arachidonic Acid in Human Milk" Nutrients 12, no. 3: 626.

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