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Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

What is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)?

Conjugated CLA is a mixture of structurally different molecules of linoleic acid, in which double bonds are separated by only one single bond. CLA contains some trans bonds, but is not considered trans fat. It is a non-essential omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid.

Foods High in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

CLA are naturally produced by bacteria in ruminants, so they appear in high-fat dairy products, such as cheese and butter, and in lamb and beef, but also in kangaroo [1] and turkey [2]. CLA also appears in human breast milk; its concentration depends on the maternal CLA intake [3]. CLA-enriched yogurt, milk chocolate and fruit juices are available.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Supplements

Nonprescription conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplements in the form of free fatty acids (CLA-FFA) or CLA-triacylglycerol are available. They are artificially produced from vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil.

CLA Health Benefits

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE about the effectiveness of CLA-rich foods or supplements in prevention or treatment of atherosclerosis [5], breast cancer [8], colorectal cancer [7] or rheumatoid arthritis [6], or in increasing muscle mass or strength [6,10] or promoting weight loss [6,11].

CLA is PROBABLY INEFFECTIVE in prevention or treatment of common cold, diabetes mellitus type 2 (insulin resistance) [4,9] and high cholesterol or triglyceride levels [6].

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Safety: Side Effects, Toxicity

CLA is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [9]. No severe side effects of CLA have been identified, so far [9].

  1. 2004, Kangaroo meat 5 times more CLA than lamb  Nutraingredients-usa.com
  2. McGuire S et al, Dietary CLA intake in humans. What do we know? What should we know?  National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements
  3. Moutsioulis AA et al, 2008, Human breast milk enrichment in conjugated linoleic acid after consumption of a conjugated linoleic acid–rich food product: a pilot study  Nutrition Research
  4. Gaullier JM et al, 2004, Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight humans  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  5. Whigham LD et al, 2007, Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans
    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  6. Conjugated linoleic acid  WebMD
  7. Larsson SC et al, 2005, High-fat dairy food and conjugated linoleic acid intakes in relation to colorectal cancer incidence in the Swedish Mammography Cohort  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  8. Tanmahasamut P et al, 2004, Conjugated Linoleic Acid Blocks Estrogen Signaling in Human Breast Cancer Cells  The Journal of Nutrition
  9. GRAS Notice 000153: Conjugated linoleic acid  US Food and Drug Administration
  10. Jeukendrup AE et al, 2004, Fat supplementation, health, and endurance performance  ScienceDirect
  11. Salas-Salvadó J et al, 2006, Conjugated linoleic acid intake in humans: a systematic review focusing on its effect on body composition, glucose, and lipid metabolism  PubMed

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