When it comes to supplements, sometimes the things that we need most aren’t crazy branded ingredients and T-boosters. Sometimes we just need regular, everyday nutrients. Despite having a pretty insane name, arachidonic acid (AA) is one of these everyday nutrients that can help improve your overall health and well-being – especially if you’re a bodybuilder.
Arachidonic acid is found in a lot of essential parts of your body: your brain, your muscles, and your liver, to name a few. If you get enough of the nutrient, then you’ll be able to function at your optimum level.
In this article, we’re going to explain all about arachidonic acid. It’s a fairly common substance but not one that’s talked about very often, so don’t be surprised if nobody knows what you’re talking about when you mention it.
Regardless, we’ll try to simplify the available information as much as possible.
Table of Contents
What is arachidonic acid?
AA is an essential fatty acid. It’s found in the membranes of your cells, which means that every cell in your body makes use of AA at some point in your life. That alone tells you that you should make sure to get enough of it if you want to be helpful.
In terms of chemical structure, AA is a type of carboxylic acid. It’s got a 20-carbon chain. It’s a polyunsaturated fatty acid that’s important for maintaining the health of your brain, your muscles, and your liver.
It’s especially crucial for helping to regulate and maintain the structure of skeletal muscle.
AA, however, is not an essential fatty acid. This means that your body can produce it on its own, as long as you’re providing the right building blocks. In this case, that means that you need to eat enough linoleic acid, which is another fatty acid.
Linoleic acid(CLA), however, is an essential fatty acid, which means that your body can’t produce it on its own. Your body also can’t produce AA if you’re not getting enough linoleic acid.
That means that you’re going to want to make sure to eat foods that contain a lot of linoleic acids. Think healthy vegetable-based foods, like olive oil and avocados.
What does arachidonic Acid do in the body?
As mentioned above, AA exists within the membranes of your cells. This means that it’s essential, as your cells are the building blocks that allow you even to have a body. All of your muscles, organs, and tissues rely on your cells to function.
AA has several different jobs.
One of the first things that it does is help to prevent inflammation. This is especially true when someone has been injured or gets a rash or some other form of irritation. When this happens, the AA in the body is released to help fight inflammation.
AA can also work as a vasodilator, meaning that it expands and relaxes the blood vessels in your body. When your blood vessels are relaxed, they’re able to transport oxygen and blood more efficiently throughout your body.
This means that your organs, muscles, and tissues are all going to function better because they’re going to have more oxygen and nutrients available.
AA has been useful for many things, many of which have to do with the brain. AA is one of the most prevalent fatty acids found in the brain, which means that it’s involved in a lot of our mental functions.
In fact, it’s just about as common as DHA, the omega-3 fatty acid that is so often touted for its ability to help improve mental health and fight off depression.
Our brain is pretty much reliant on these fatty acids to function. Unfortunately, a lot of people are actually deficient in them and just don’t realize it.
When this happens, it means that your brain and the nervous system won’t be working as well as they could be.
AA helps to prevent the brain from experiencing oxidation, which is the main reason that the brain starts to slow down as we grow older. It also helps to keep your brain cells fluid so that they can exchange nutrients and information more easily.
AA is also highly involved in the development and treatment of mental health conditions like Alzheimer’s and bipolar.
As you may already know, Alzheimer’s is a degenerative condition that affects a person’s memory, thinking, and other mental processes. It tends to get worse as they get older. Bipolar is a mood disorder that causes people to switch back and forth between drastically different states of mind.
People who don’t produce AA correctly have been shown to have a higher chance of getting Alzheimer’s and bipolar.
However, similar research has also shown that AA can be useful for helping to fight off symptoms of Alzheimer’s – as long as people catch it early on.
How can arachidonic Acid be used in bodybuilding?
One of the primary uses of AA is as a bodybuilding supplement. It’s currently marketed as an anabolic bodybuilding supplement, and it can be found in a lot of different products.
Unfortunately, the lack of information available and the complicated name mean that a ton of people don’t actually know what it’s for.
Regardless, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a useful bodybuilding supplement. The average bodybuilding supplement suggests that you use about 1,500 mg of AA per day for eight weeks. This will lead to some of the following benefits, according to this study.
Increased Lean Body Mass
Lean body mass is what you see when you’re looking in the mirror. An increase in lean body mass allows you to look more toned, fit, and healthy. Even if you’re not massive and bulky, if you have a good amount of lean body mass, you’re going to look good.
A study showed that after 8 weeks of taking arachidonic acid, the subjects gained on average 1.6kg of lean muscle mass.
AA has been shown to help improve the amount of lean body mass when taken at the recommended dosage and for the recommended amount of time.
As mentioned, AA is important for most of the cells in our body. When our muscle tissues have better access to AA, they are better able to exchange nutrients and other essential things. This allows you to increase your strength.
A study showed that the 1RM bench press increased 8,7% and the average peak power increased with 13,2%.
When you have more strength available, suddenly you’re able to work out harder and for longer. This creates a positive feedback loop. You’re stronger, so you can lift more, which in turn makes you even stronger, which allows you to lift more… you know how she goes. AA just provides a quick boost in strength that could lead to more permanent, long-term results.
Increased Anaerobic Power
Anaerobic exercise is the opposite of aerobic exercise. Aerobic activities, like jogging or swimming, aim to get the heart pumping faster. This sends blood and oxygen throughout the body and causes you to burn calories at an increased rate.
Aerobic exercise is much shorter in duration and tends to be much more intense. When this happens, you place a lot of demand on your body in a short period. Your need for oxygen overwhelms the amount of oxygen that you actually have available, causing you to ‘max out.’
AA can help to increase your anaerobic power, meaning you’ll be able to put some extra ‘oomph’ into your high-intensity sets.
Will it cause any side effects?
Generally, studies seem to suggest that supplementing with AA doesn’t cause any side effects.
However, this is when taken at the regular dosage as recommended by professionals. This means a dose of no more than 1,000-1,500 mg per day, for about 50 days. The study says that no ‘significant side effects’ has occurred, but some people may notice mild side effects.
Regardless, AA supplements don’t seem to be toxic and don’t seem to create a serious health concern. The compound is not carcinogenic (meaning that it doesn’t cause cancer). Since it’s an important nutrient for our body, and since our body makes it on its own, we can assume that it’s relatively safe.
This is why AA works well in the first place. It’s a nutrient that your body produces from other essential fatty acids. However, if you’re able to supplement with the nutrient, then suddenly, your body doesn’t have to put all that effort in.
In addition to having a steady and regular supply of this important nutrient, your body will now also have all this extra energy available.
This energy can then be redirected to other important tasks, such as keeping your immune system healthy or making sure that your digestion is operating properly.
Overall, AA is about as low-risk as you can expect from a supplement.
Arachidonic acid is a fatty acid compound. Our body produces it on its own from linoleic acid, then uses it to help make sure that our brain, muscles, and other important body parts work well.
However, we can also supplement with AA. Doing this helps to improve our physical and mental health and allows us to function better. Multiple studies showed that AA helps with increasing lean muscle mass and overall strength.
AA supplementation is safe and doesn’t cause any side effects.
If you are interested in a good Arachidonic Acid Supplement take a look at Arachidone.