2 The Challenge or Human Sustainability
o the sh catch reaching a plateau wasseen o little importance as protein couldbe obtained rom other sources. The valueo sh and seaood is not protein but thecluster o brain-specic lipids and traceelements. This allacy is amply illustrated by theillustration o the rhinoceros. This animalreaches a one ton body weight our yearsater birth. The rhinoceros obtains all theprotein it needs or this prodigious rateo body growth rom the simplest oodresource, namely grass. What it does notdo is to obtain the essential ats neededor brain growth. It can only build a tinybrain weighing no more than 350 g. Clearlydierent principles are involved in braingrowth compared to body growth. Thepriority o the body may well be proteinbut that o the brain is brain-specic at.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)in the brain
O special relevance to the brain ats, DHAis ound in high concentration in signallingsystems where it has a specic unctionalrole. Neural cells have a particularly highmembrane content o DHA. In dierentmammalian species, brain size varies butthe DHA content does not (Craword, et al.,1976; Craword, et al., 1993) suggesting ahigh degree o evolutionary conservation.DHA is rapidly and selectively incorporatedin neural membranes and is concentratedat synaptic signalling sites (Sinclair andCraword, 1972; Suzuki, et al., 1997). It is themost unsaturated o cell membrane attyacids (Jump, 2002). DHA is synthesizedrom
-linolenic acid which occurs as aby product o photosynthesis and thusin green oods. However, the processis strongly rate limited (Sinclair, 1975;Sprecher, 1993; Sprecher, et al., 1999). The desaturase reactions are rate limiting,being the slowest in the sequence o chainelongation and the insertion o doublebonds into the molecules. Hence, i youexamine the atty acid composition o tissues other than the brain, you will seeor example, quantities o linoleic acidpresent with arachidonic acid (ArA). I the conversions were ast, all the linoleicacid would be converted to arachidonate.Moreover this high proportion o linoleicacid in or example human red cells orplasma lecithins or in plasma cholesterolesters or even triglycerides is in evidencedespite the act that the 18 carbon attyacids are oxidized at a rapid rate some ourtimes aster than the long chain derivatives(Leyton, et al., 1987). This rate limitationmeans that there is an
order of magnitudeadvantage
to the provision o preormedDHA in the diet as opposed to its synthesisrom
-linolenic acid or incorporationinto the developing rat brain (Sinclair andCraword, 1972). The human metabolicprocess is slower than in rats so one canexpect a lower value o
-linolenic acid asa precursor o DHA or the human brain.Conversely, provision o preormed ArA orespecially DHA would be advantageous(Brenna, et al., 2009).An additional actor in the utilization o DHA or the brain, arteries and heart isthat other atty acids will compete withutilization. Last century, the rise in saturated,and trans isomer ats derived rom animalintensication and technology, was amajor concern. However, the rise in soya oilproduction has led to a greater than 1,000-old increase in linoleic acid. Linoleic acidbeing an ω6 atty acid competes with theω3 and is thought to be one o the causes o the rise in mental ill health (Blasbalg, et al.,2011).
Some o the evidence — baseor selective advantage rom acoastal habitat
The land-ood chain is poor in preormedDHA which as can be seen rom
is the most limited in it biosynthesis.It is restricted to the eating o very smallmammals, birds and bird and reptile eggs. The marine ood web by contrast is very richin DHA. Its origin is photosynthetic unlikethe Omega-6 atty acids which dominateplant energy storage or reproduction inthe seed oils on land. The history o earlyhominids on land would have represented