Prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and essential fatty acids

Breast milk from women living near Lake Malawi is high in docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid.

PMID 25601798


Adequate long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) intake is critical during the fetal and infant periods. We quantified fatty acid content of breast milk (n=718) and plasma from six month old infants (n=412) in southern Malawi, and in usipa (n=3), a small dried fish from Lake Malawi. Compared to global norms, Malawian breast milk fatty acid content (% of total fatty acids) was well above average levels of arachidonic acid [ARA] (0.69% vs. 0.47%) and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] (0.73% vs. 0.32%). Average Malawian infant plasma ARA (7.5%) and DHA (3.8%) levels were comparable to those reported in infants consuming breast milk with similar fatty acid content. The amounts (mg) of DHA, EPA and ARA provided by a 3 oz (85 g) portion of dried usipa (1439, 659 and 360, respectively) are considerably higher than those for dried salmon. Usipa may be an important source of LCPUFA for populations in this region.