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June 17, 1939


JAMA. 1939;112(24):2518-2519. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800240034012

Since the consideration in The Journal of the general thesis of the existence of indispensable fatty acids in nutrition,1 information has been obtained which makes it possible to evaluate more accurately the function of these acids. The earlier work clearly established that the rat does not thrive on diets rigidly devoid of fat but acquires a characteristic deficiency disease. Although the many symptoms of this experimental condition were alleviated by giving a few milligrams of fat to the rats, it was established that the need of the animals was not for fat in general but for certain specific unsaturated fatty acids. The administration of either linoleic or linolenic acid resulted in a cure of the deficiency disease. Moreover, the ineffectiveness of other unsaturated fatty acids and of saturated fatty acids in curing the symptoms led to the suggestion that linoleic and linolenic acids cannot be synthesized in appreciable quantities