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Arachidonic Acid Info And Products
Muscle Growth, Fat Loss, Stronger Pumps!


What is it and where does it come from?

Arachidonic acid (AA) is an Omega-6 essential fatty acid. It is stored in cell membranes, and is responsible for signaling adaptive changes in response to muscle damage or other stimuli. The arachidonic acid supplementation protocols for stimulating muscle growth were developed and patented by performance-enhancement scientist William Llewellyn (1).

What does it do?

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Arachidonic acid is the principle building block for the synthesis of dienolic prostaglandins including PGE2 and PGF2. These prostaglandins are intimately involved with protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy after exercise (2,3). Arachidonic acid is specifically correlated with amplified IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor) signaling (4), enhanced satellite cell activation and proliferation (5), increased muscle cell regeneration and repair (6), enhanced androgen receptor synthesis (7), increased Nitric Oxide formation (8), and improved insulin sensitivity (9). Other benefits include possible long-term improvements in vascularity via stimulation of angiogenesis (blood vessel regeneration) in trained muscles (10), PPAR beta/delta agonist properties, which increase uncoupling proteins for a thermogenic effect (11), and inhibition of stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (12), which is strongly correlated with negative nutrient partitioning in humans; paving the way for AA to improve body composition (lean vs. fat mass). On top of all this, arachidonic acid inhibits resistin (13).

Figure 1. Presence of arachidonic acid on the
phospholipids of the skeletal muscle membrane

In September 2005, the Exercise & Sport Nutrition Laboratory at Baylor University initiated a double-blind placebo-controlled study to determine if 50 days of resistance training and arachidonic acid supplementation would affect training adaptations in 31 experienced (>1 year) resistance-trained males (14). The results were presented at the International Society of Sports Nutrition conference on June 15, 2006. All subjects ingested 1,000mg of arachidonic acid per day for 50 days. Statistical trends noticed in subjects taking AA included an average increase of 25lbs to their bench press one-rep maximum weight, which was approximately 45% greater than the placebo group. The AA group also outperformed the placebo group on Average Muscle Power (223%> placebo), Peak Anaerobic Power (600% > placebo), and Total Work Capacity (250% > placebo). No side effects were reported during the investigation.

An investigation into the anabolic effects of arachidonic acid supplementation was also conduced in February 2005 with members of the online forum community (15). A total of 14 experienced resistance-trained individuals took part. Each participant took 1,000mg of AA per day for 50 days. Twelve individuals were on a weight-gaining (bulking) training and diet regimen, and reported an average weight gain of 8.15lbs of lean body mass (LBM). The range for all twelve participants fell between 6lbs and 13lbs of lean body mass gain. Two additional subjects underwent a calorie-deficient diet for cutting (fat loss) purposes, and lost an average of 12.1 pounds while maintaining muscle mass and strength during AA supplementation.

Who needs it?

Regular exercise can reduce arachidonic acid levels (16,17) and the production of anabolic prostaglandins (18), supporting the need for AA supplementation during intense weight training or athletic performance. Arachidonic acid is most commonly used by weight-training individuals, bodybuilders, and athletes in sports where enhanced anaerobic (short, rapid burst) performance is required. Reduced arachidonic acid levels are associated with "training stagnation", or a declining ability to stimulate muscle growth, strength gains, and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) following exercise.

How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?

The optimal dosage may vary with each individual and their particular goals. Use typically ranges from 75mg-250mg per day for long-term supplementation and anabolic support, to as much as 500mg-1000mg per day for a more rapid anabolic effect. During use some people notice increased muscle soreness, sore joints, headaches, or insomnia. Most users do not notice any significant side effects.

Is It Safe?

Yes, arachidonic is a natural and important essential fatty acid (EFA), and is safe for healthy people to take. The supplementation of doses as high as 1,500-1,700mg per day should not cause a change in HDL, LDL, or total cholesterol values, immune system functioning, or platelet aggregation values. (19,20,21) Furthermore, it is safe on all of the basic markers of health including lipids, blood pressure, blood cell counts, immune system mediators, and liver enzymes (22).

Who Shouldn't Take Arachidonic Acid?

Sedentary (inactive) individuals should not supplement with AA unless a dietary need has been identified, as deficiency in this group is not common. AA is an "as needed" pro-inflammatory by the body, so individuals with an injury may find that supplementation increases localized pain or soreness. AA supplementation is also not recommended during pregnancy, or by individuals with a history of diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, prostate enlargement, or any inflammatory disease. As with most dietary supplements, you should seek a physician's approval before use if you are taking any medication(s), or suffer from any disease.


  1. U.S. Patent # 6,841,573. Use of arachidonic acid as a method of increasing skeletal muscle.
  2. Trappe TA, Fluckery JD, White F, Lambert CP, Evans WJ. Skeletal muscle PGF (2) (alpha) and PGE (2) in response to eccentric resistance: influence of ibuprofen acetaminophen. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2001 Oct; 86 (10): 5067-70.
  3. Soltov QA, Betters JL, Sellman JE, Lira VA, Long JH, Criswell DS. Ibuprofen inhibits skeletal muscle hypertrophy in rats. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 May; 38 (5) : 840-6.
  4. Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and p70 s6 kinase participate in the regulation of protein turnover in skeletal muscle by insulin and insulin-like growth factor I. Dardevet d, Sornet C, Vary T, Grizard J. Endocrinology. 1996 Oct;137(10):4087-94
  5. Bondesen BA, Mills ST, Pavlath GK. The COX-2 pathway regulates growth of atrophied muscle via multiple mechanisms. Am J Physiol Cell Physiology 2006 Jun; 290(6): C1651-9. Epub 2006 Feb 8.
  6. Bondesen BA, Mills ST, Kegley KM, Paylath GK. The COX-2 pathway is essential during early stages of skeletal muscle regeneration. Am J Phsyiol Cell Physiol. 2004 Aug; 287 (2): C475-83 Epub 2004 Apr 14.
  7. Dietary effects of arachidonic-rich fungal oil and fish oil on murine hepatic and hippocampal gene expression. Berger A, Mutch DM, Bruce German J, Roberts MA. Lipids Health Dis. 2002 Oct 21;1(1):2.
  8. Specific effect of arachidonic acid on inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA expression in human osteoblastic cells. Priante G, Musacchio E, Pagnin E, CalÚ LA, Baggio B. Clin Sci (Lond). 2005 Aug;109(2):177-82.
  9. Borkman M, Storlien LH, Pan DA, Jenkins AB, Chrisholm DJ, Campbell LV. The relationship between insulin sensitivity and the fatty acid composition of skeletal muscle phospholipids. N Engl J Med. 1993 Jan 28;328(4):238-44
  10. Tamura K, Sakuri T, Kogo H. Relationship between prostaglandin E2 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in angiogenesis in human vascular endothelial cells. Vascul Pharmacol. 2006 Jun; 44 (6) : 411-6. Epub 2006 May 2.
  11. Chevillotte E, Rieusset J, Roques M, Desage M, Vidal H. The regulation of uncoupling protein-2 gene expression by omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in human skeletal muscle cells involves multiple pathways, including the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor beta. J Biol Chem. 2001 Apr 6;276(14):10853-60. Epub 2001 Jan 12.
  12. Mutch DM, Grigorov M, Berger A, Fay LB, Roberts MA, Watkins SM, Willaimson G, German JB. An integrative metabolism approach identifies stearoyl-CoA desaturase as a target for an arachidonate-enriched diet. FASEB J. 2005 Apr;19(6):599-601. Epub 2005 Jan 24.
  13. Haugen F, Zahid N, Dalen KT, Hollung K, Nebb HI, Drevon CA. Resistin expression in 3T3-L1 adipocytes is reduced by arachidonic acid. J Lipid Res. 2005 Jan; 46 (1): 143-53. Epub 2004 Oct 16.
  14. Roberts, M, C Kerksick, L Taylor, M Iosia, B Campbell, C Wilborn, T Harvey, R Wilson, M. Greenwood, D Willoughby and R Kreider. Hormonal and intramuscular adaptations over 50 days of concomitant arachidonic acid supplementation and resistance training. Exercise & Sport Nutrition Laboratory, Center for Exercise, Nutrition & Preventive Health Research, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798-7313.
  15. (also appears in Body of Science Vol 1, Issue #3. September 2005)
  16. Andersson, A, Sjodin A, Olsson R, Vessby B. Effects of physical exercise on phospholipid fatty acid composition in skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol. 1998 Mar;274(3 Pt 1):E432-8.
  17. Andersson, A., A. Sjodin, A. Hedman, R. Olsson, and B. Vessby. Fatty acid profile of skeletal muscle phospholipids in trained and untrained young men. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 279:E744-751, 2000.
  18. Effects of exercise on parameters of blood coagulation, platelet function and the prostaglandin system. Sinzinger H, Virgolini I. Sports Med, 1988 Oct;6(4):238-45. Review.
  19. Nelson GJ, Schmidt PC, Bartolini G, Kelley DS, Kyle D. The effect of dietary arachidonic acid on platelet fatty acid composition, and blood coagulation in humans. Lipids. 1997 Apr; 32(4): 421-5.
  20. Kelley DS, Taylor PC. Nelson GJ, Schmidt PC, Makey BF, Kyle D. Effects of dietary arachidonic acid on human immune response. Lipids. 1997 Apr; 32(4): 449-56.
  21. Nelson GJ, Schmidt PC, Bartolini G, Kelley DS, Phinney SD, Kyle D, Silbermann S, Schaefer FJ. The effect of dietary arachidonic acid on plasma lipoprotein distributions, apoproteins, blood lipid levels, and tissue fatty acid composition in humans. Lipids. 1997 Apr; 32940: 427-33.
  22. Wilborn, C, M Roberts, C Kerksick, M Iosia, L Taylor, B Campbell, T Harvey, R Wilson, M. Greenwood, D Willoughby and R Kreider. Changes in whole blood and clinical safety markers over 50 days of concomitant arachidonic acid supplementation and resistance training. Exercise & Sport Nutrition Laboratory, Center for Exercise, Nutrition & Preventive Health Research, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798-7313. 
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