Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) are lipids that influence many of our cellular and immune functions, mainly by affecting cell membranes. They can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. However, there are currently no recommendations on how much LCPUFA we should have in our diets.
As Canada Research Chair in Human Nutrition and Metabolism, Dr. Catherine Field is trying to establish nutritional requirements for LCPUFA. She and her research team are focusing on a group of these fatty acids that can be synthesized to a limited extent in the body. Field and her team are using cells, pre-clinical rodent models, large maternal infant cohorts and clinical trials to gather the evidence they need to establish dietary recommendations for LCPUFA. Ultimately, their goal is to improve the health of women and infants.