Dietary Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Relation to Neural Development in Humans
Among polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), docosahexaenoic acid (22:6ω3) is conspicuous in neural membranes and the retina. The most abundant fatty acid of the ω6 series is arachidonate (20:4ω6), followed by adrenic (22:4ω6) and docosapentaenoic (22:5ω6) acids. The proportion of these PUFA in neural tissues seems to be genetically determined and is quite constant in the mammalian brain, despite wide species differences in other organs 1. Only with great difficulty does nutritional aggression modify the PUFA composition of the brain. However, during the period of maximum growth speed — the so-called brain “growth spurt”2 — the brain can become vulnerable to nutritional insults, and this has been repeatedly proved in the experimental animal fed on diets very poor or unbalanced in PUFA3 – 8. In contrast, there is little information concerning the influence of dietary PUFA on the developing human brain.
KeywordsEssential Fatty Acid Total Parenteral Nutrition Growth Spurt Human Retina Developmental Profile
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