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Linoleic acid-good or bad for the brain?


Increased intake of omega-6 rich plant oils such as soybean and corn oil over the past few decades has inadvertently tripled the amount of n-6 linoleic acid (LA, 18:2n-6) in the diet. Although LA is nutritionally "essential", very little is known about how it affects the brain when present in excess. This review provides an overview on the metabolism of LA by the brain and the effects of excess dietary LA intake on brain function. Pre-clinical evidence suggests that excess dietary LA increases the brain's vulnerability to inflammation and likely acts via its oxidized metabolites. In humans, excess maternal LA intake has been linked to a typical neurodevelopment, but underlying mechanisms are unknown. It is concluded that excess dietary LA may adversely affect the brain. The potential neuroprotective role of reducing dietary LA merits clinical evaluation in future studies.

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