Series Editor Page

The Nutrition and Health series of books have, as an overriding mission, to provide health professionals with texts that are considered essential because each includes: (1) a synthesis of the state of the science, (2) timely, in-depth reviews by the leading researchers in their respective fields, (3) extensive, up-to-date fully annotated reference lists, (4) a detailed index, (5) relevant tables and figures, (6) identification of paradigm shifts and the consequences, (7) virtually no overlap of information between chapters, but targeted, inter-chapter referrals, (8) suggestions of areas for future research, and (9) balanced, data-driven answers to patient/health professionals questions that are based upon the totality of evidence rather than the findings of any single study.

The series volumes are not the outcome of a symposium. Rather, each editor has the potential to examine a chosen area with a broad perspective, both in subject matter as well as in the choice of chapter authors. The international perspective, especially with regard to public health initiatives, is emphasized where appropriate. The editors, whose trainings are both research- and practice-oriented, have the opportunity to develop a primary objective for their book, define the scope and focus, and then invite the leading authorities from around the world to be part of their initiative. The authors are encouraged to provide an overview of the field, discuss their own research, and relate the research findings to potential human health consequences. Because each book is developed de novo, the chapters are coordinated such that the resulting volume imparts greater knowledge than the sum of the information contained in the individual chapters.

Fatty Acids: Physiological and Behavioral Functions edited by David I. Mostofsky, Shlomo Yehuda, and Norman Salem, clearly exemplifies the goals of the Nutrition and Health series. In fact, this volume is surely ahead of the curve with regard to awareness of the importance of fatty acids in virtually every aspect of human health and disease prevention. Two fatty acids are considered essential nutrients for humans: linoleic and linolenic acids. Thus, there is no question about the importance of dietary intake of adequate levels of these essential nutrients. However, the story of the changes in our food supply and the consequences of consumption by us, as well as our farm animals, of foods that no longer have the same balance of these essential fatty acids had yet to be captured in one authoritative, up-to-date volume until now.

Fatty Acids: Physiological and Behavioral Functions, edited by David I. Mostofsky, Shlomo Yehuda, and Norman Salem, has set the benchmark for providing the most critical data on fatty acids in the most accessible volume published to date. Understanding the metabolism of fatty acids and their roles in human health is certainly not simple and the terms used can often seem daunting; however, the editors and authors have focused on assisting those who are unfamiliar with this field in understanding the critical issues and important new research findings that can impact their fields of interest. Moreover, the two Forewords by the well-acknowledged leaders in the field, Drs. Ralph Holman and William Lands provide the historic perspective as well as a clear overview of the critical importance of fatty acid balance to human health.

Emphasis is placed on the physiological role of the two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (n-6) and linolenic acid (n-3) and their metabolites—arachidonic acid (n-6), docosahexaenoic acid (n-3), and eicosapentaenoic acid (n-3). The uninitiated reader is vi

Series Editor Page clearly guided through the, at first, complex terminology that often makes fatty acid biology seem foreboding. By making the chapters accessible to all readers, the editors have worked to broaden the base of professionals that can know the importance of fatty acids first-hand. All cells contain fatty acids in their membranes, from the outer cell membrane to the inner membranes including mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and nuclear membranes. Thus it is easy to understand that the physiological roles of these ubiquitous molecules are critical to the understanding of human health by many researchers in different disciplines such as cardiovascular function, brain and retinal function, immune responses, nephrology, respiratory function, etc. Moreover, by also including the novel findings of the critical value of fatty acids to brain structure and the functionings of the mind, the reader is made aware of this exciting new area of research. Once the reader learns that docosahexaenoic acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in the developing brain and retina, it becomes obvious why this major reference volume devotes one-quarter of the book to the behavioral consequences of fatty acid status.

Fatty acids are also a source of energy for the body because these are sources of fat calories and the reader is guided through the dilemma that faces the neonate who has insufficient energy sources and must shift the balance of essential fatty acids needed for brain development to the more immediate need of energy for survival. The challenge is particularly relevant when a premature infant is not provided with sufficient fatty acid resources to continue the optimal development of its brain, retinas, and other vital organs, a process that requires high levels of long-chain fatty acids at that critical point in development. The provision of nutritional sources for premature infants has moved from the research bench to the political arena and has been a regulatory question for several years. These issues are touched upon in several of the chapters in this important volume.

It is not generally recognized that certain fatty acids in cell membranes affect the electrical conductance through the cells. The consequences of lower-than-recommended levels of n-3 fatty acids in the food supply may be one important factor in the development of arrythmias in individuals with this type of cardiac tissue dysregulation. Again, the many roles of fatty acids in human physiology are critically reviewed in this volume and the newest research is highlighted with a focus on communicating the totality of the evidence and the current level of progress in these new areas of therapeutic roles for fatty acids.

Drs. Mostofsky, Yehuda, and Salem have carefully chosen the very best researchers who can communicate the relevance of fatty acid biology to professionals who are not experts in this field. The authors have worked hard to make their information accessible to health professionals interested in public health, child health, nursing, pharmacy, psychology, as well as nutrition-related health professions.

In conclusion, Fatty Acids: Physiological and Behavioral Functions provides health professionals in many areas of research and practice the most up-to-date, well-referenced, and easy-to-understand volume on the importance of fatty acids for optimal human health. This volume will serve the reader as the authoritative resource in this field for many years to come.

Adrianne Bendich, pud, facn

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