What Is Arachidonic Acid?
Arachidonic acid is one of the omega-6 fatty acids, and it might be the most important of them. This substance is present in the human body in large amounts and can be synthesized from other things such as linoleic acid.
However, our purpose here is to determine whether or not arachidonic acid is well-suited for use as a workout supplement. We will examine all the evidence we can find and attempt to give you a complete answer.
What Does Arachidonic Acid Do?
Arachidonic acid (ARA) performs a few different functions in the human body. Large amounts can be found in the brain, the muscles, and the kidneys. 10%-20% of Human muscle tissue is composed of Arachidonic acid. This substance also makes up 10%-12% of the total fatty acids found in the human brain.
As a common component of many foods, ARA performs many functions. However, we are concerned with the use of ARA as a workout supplement, so we will focus on its effects as they relate to muscle growth.
Does Arachidonic Acid Promote Muscle Growth?
Some researchers disagree about this subject, in spite of the fact that ARA supplements have been on the market for years and have generally been found to be effective. Some people are surprised that a non-protein substance could have a significant impact on the muscle, but it does seem to be the case.
For a start, let’s take a look at this study. 30 men who were accustomed to resistance training were divided into two groups. One group was supplemented with ARA while the other was given a placebo. Both of these groups were subjected to an 8-week workout program, exercising three times per week. At the same time, they also performed a comparable experiment on two groups of rats.
The results found that muscle size and strength had not improved in the placebo group, but that it had improved in the ARA group. The same result was observed in the rats. This is not the only study to prove the effects of ARA upon human muscle tissue.
However, some research also disagrees. This study was performed in a very similar fashion to the first one, except that it found no difference between the placebo group and the ARA group. Thus, we can conclude that this supplement will not benefit everyone equally.
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It is possible that this substance works upon the muscles in an indirect way. This study would seem to suggest that this is the case. It seems that ARA can increase the body’s rate of protein turnover. This means your body can process more protein in a shorter amount of time, leading to more rapid muscle growth.
We can see more evidence of the indirect-action theory when we look at this study. Here, researchers found that ARA did not directly induce an anabolic (muscle-building) state. However, they did find a slight difference in results between the two groups, indicating that the ARA helped the subjects in some other way.
As the third piece of evidence for this indirect-action theory, we might point to this study, which found that ARA activated several important pathways for potassium, thus increasing the ability of the muscle to process and gain benefits from dietary potassium.
How ARA Relates To Inflammation
As you may already know, muscle growth is caused by muscle trauma. By doing minor damage to your muscle tissue, you force it to heal larger and stronger than before. It is very similar to the methods that are used by martial artists to harden their fists in order to punch through solid objects. By continually inflicting minor injury, they force the body to build itself.
Most of you probably know that the burning sensation you get during a good, rigorous workout. That burn is an inflammation. Unlike a more severe inflammation, this will build you up rather than breaking you down. Resistance training of any kind will produce this inflammatory reaction, which seems to be effective in preventing more serious inflammations.
We generally think of inflammation as something to be avoided, but there is no doubt that it is essential for muscle growth. We can confirm this by looking at the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs to see if they are able to suppress muscle growth. This study did exactly that and found that ibuprofen and acetaminophen (both anti-inflammatory drugs) prevented muscle tissue from undergoing protein synthesis in its normal manner. These results correlate well with our findings from earlier, in which we found that ARA had a positive effect on protein turnover.
Is Arachidonic Acid Safe?
Based on the information that is currently available, ARA seems to be very safe. In general, the safest supplements are the ones which supply substances that your body produces anyway. Obviously, there is still a danger of overdose, but the risk of overdosing on ARA seems very low indeed.
It seems that ARA is even safe for children, and pregnant/breastfeeding mothers. With that being the case, it’s hard to feel very worried about this supplement. At the same time, it is always a smart idea to make sure you always follow the recommended dosage for any ARA-containing product that you buy. There is very little danger here, but it’s always good to stay on the safe side.
The question posed by the title of this article seems to be solved. However, we don’t have a simple “yes” or “no” answer in this case. There have been certain documented cases in which ARA supplementation did not seem to make any real difference. By contrast, we found many more cases in which ARA was found to have a beneficial effect on muscle growth. This effect was not direct but was accomplished through several indirect means.
Thus, the logical answer is that yes, arachidonic acid can be a good workout supplement, though it may not benefit everyone equally. If you choose to try it out, we recommend that you track your results and see if it’s really helping. For more interesting and informative articles like this one, please feel free to follow us on Facebook.