Arachidonic Acid | The 2021 Guide

Date Posted... 27th Aug 2021




Arachidonic Acid (ArA) is quickly making a name for itself in the supplement industry. Why is everyone raving about it and what results should you expect? Lots of ingredients get hyped up and fizzle away but Arachidonic Acid is here to stay!
What is Arachidonic Acid (ARA) ?

ArA is the primary fatty acid responsible for inflammation in muscle tissue. ArA is a 20-Carbon omega-6 that is found within the cell membranes of our muscle, known as sarcolemma.  When you lift weights, your muscle become damaged which causes enzymes to rapidly move to the damaged muscle and release the ArA from the cell membrane. The ArA is then broken down and used to create localised hormones called prostaglandins which directly cause the inflammation and soreness post training.

You may be thinking why the f**k would I want more soreness!?! The DOMS are already enough as it it! But this inflammatory action also signals your body to REPAIR the muscle tissue. They also play a critical role in increasing the amount of nuclei in our muscle cells, ultimately boosting muscle protein synthesis. [1]

Without ArA you would not have any short-term inflammation which is essential for building new muscle tissue. Because of this some researchers believe that low levels of ArA are potentially a primary factor in causing you to plateau. ArA can be made by your body from linoleic acid in the liver. However, this is a very inefficient process and a study has shown that increasing your linoleic acid does not necessarily increase the ArA levels in your muscles. [2]

Arachidonic Acid is consumed in very small amounts from food we regularly consume such as eggs, animal organs, meat, fish, and seafood. [3] [4] [5] [6]. But there is simply not enough ArA in these foods to make a meaningful difference to your results, because of this to fully utilise the power of Arachindonic acid it has to be supplemented.

What does the SCIENCE say?

Effects of Archidonic Acid supplementation on acute anabolic signally and chronic functional performance and body composition adaptations” was published May 16th, 2016 by university of Tampa (cited by 13) [7] and it found the following results;

“Lean body mass (2.9%, p<0.0005), upper-body strength (8.7%, p<0.0001), and peak power (12.7%, p<0.0001) increased only in the ARA group.“ 

At this point we would also like to stress that the above study was done in humans, so this isn’t a test tube study or even an animal study, this was done in actual living, breathing, human sapiens – unlike many supplements on the market today.

Following this, published June 2019 was “A Systematic review of the effects of increasing arachidonic acid intake on PUFA status, metabolism and health-related outcomes in humans.[8]  This comprehensive review stated that “The studies reviewed here suggest no adverse effects in adults of increased ARA intake up to at least 1000-1500 mg/d on blood lipids, platelet aggregation and blood clotting, immune function, inflammation or urinary excretion of ARA metabolites.

Because of this ArA may be an awesome supplement for athletes that want to push past plateaus and/or highly trained individuals looking for an extra boost in performance and muscle growth. ArA may just bring back the glory days of your “newb gains”…

You will be very pleased to know that whilst ArA is considered pro-inflammatory, using ArA as a supplement only causes this during and after training. ArA supplementation is actually associated with reduced inflammatory markers [9]. However, with that being said if you are currently nursing a very inflamed injury or have an inflammation medical condition it may be a better idea to avoid using ArA. Although no scientific evidence mentions this, it is important to note that there are anecdotal reports of greater delayed-onset muscle soreness (soreness) when using ArA as a supplement. 

The Bottom Line is that ArA has extremely promising ergogenic properties and the results so far show extreme optimism and indicate that ArA may be a high effective at helping you break through plateaus and get the most out of your workouts.