• Is GC-MS the Solution for Fatty Acid Analysis?


Is GC-MS the Solution for Fatty Acid Analysis?

Dec 26 2019

Fatty acids are essential nutrients that play a variety of roles in a healthy body. Research suggests that essential fatty acids impact both physical and mental wellbeing. Imbalances in fatty acid content can lead to disease. Hence it is important that scientists and doctors can monitor fatty acid content in samples.

There are several methods that lend themselves to measuring fatty acids in biological samples. A review published in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis has reviewed the current methodology concentrating on gas chromatography-mass spectromentry. The combination and advances of chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyse samples is discussed in the article, Recent Advances to Conquer Analytical Challenges with High-Resolution, Accurate Mass Spectrometry. Let’s have a closer look at fatty acids and discover more about how GC-MS is keeping us healthy.

Essential fatty acids - keeping bodies healthy

We need many different types of fatty acids in our bodies to keep us healthy. Fatty acids can vary by the number of carbon or hydrogen atoms in the molecule. Our bodies can make most of the fatty acids that it needs to keep us healthy, except for two. Our body cannot synthesize either linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) or α-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid). These two are essential fatty acids that we have to get from our diet or supplements.

Research indicates that fatty acids can improve our immunity to infections and diseases, help with cell signalling, reduce inflammation within the body - some research suggests that fatty acids can also help with mental and physical performance. Fatty acids play a role in oxygen transport throughout the body too, alongside providing energy, brain function and healthy-looking skin.

Lack of acids - chromatography keeps score

Research has shown that a deficiency in the levels of fatty acids - especially the essential fatty acids - can lead to a variety of illnesses, including neurosensory and behavioural disorders. In the review referenced above - Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-based analytical strategies for fatty acid analysis in biological samples - researchers from Taiwan considered current approaches used to analyse fatty acids in biological samples.

The team concentrated on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry methods and considered extraction approaches, separation efficiency of different columns and the use of internal standards to help identify and quantify fatty acid levels. They comment that there is no perfect approach for all the different types of fatty acids and the array of sample matrices that could be presented to the analyst.

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