What is CLA?
Conjugated Linoleic Acids
To make a long story short, you might get excited or the fact that CLA is an excellent excuse to eat butter. As long as it’s grass-fed butter, that is. CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acids. It is not just one compound but a group of related omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids naturally found in the milk and meat of grass-fed ruminant animals, such as cows, sheep and goats.
These fats have become popular thanks to their purported fat-burning qualities. Body builders or those who want to promote an increase in muscle growth take CLA supplements.
You can find CLA in food, and you can take it as a powdered or encapsulated supplement. The CLAs found in supplements are from vegetable oils high in linoleic acid like safflower, corn, soy and sunflower. (x)
Over the past two decades or more, reports and studies support the CLA’s variety of benefits the supplement potentially has on your body. Studies prove it reduces body fat, modulates immune and inflammatory response, increases bone mass and reduces cancer and cardiovascular diseases. A variety of science and medical publications support the use of CLA based on studies involving humans. The benefits are substantial, but discuss taking CLA supplements with your physician. (x)
The benefits of taking it are minimal in numbers, but the results are worth mentioning since the three areas are advantageous, particularly for those who enjoy drinking milk. (x)
CLA comes in many chemical forms, also known as “isomers,” which means the chemical structure of each is slightly different. The types found in grass-fed animals differ from the types found in supplements. Also, the ratio of various CLAs can vary between animals and between supplements.
Most supplements, however, contain a 50/50 ratio of 9,11 isomers and 10,12 isomers. (x) (x) If you decide to take CLA, it’s important to discuss starting any new supplement with your healthcare provider. Some CLA benefits to include in the discussion:
- Burn Fat & Increase Muscle Mass
There’s been more research focusing on it’s effects on body composition in humans. On the one hand, they sometimes report its overall effects as “modest.” (x) More recent studies conclude it can promote fat loss in some people to a degree significant enough to justify supplementation. (x)
Why the discrepancy? Various forms and dosages of CLA played a role in these trials. Subjects’ ages, gender, activity level, body composition, and health status also differed in the studies, resulting in different outcomes. (x)
Among the trials that produced promising results, CLA supplement dosages ranged from 3 to 8 g per day, most between 3 to 4 g a day, and the duration of the studies were typically between 4 to 16 weeks, though some went as long as two years. (x) (x) (x) (x)
Besides reducing body fat, it can also help increase muscle mass. For example, a study involving 48 obese men and women taking 6.2 g/day of it for 12 weeks resulted in an average of 0.64 kg increase in lean body mass. (x) Another small study examined its effect on resistance training. Here, supplementing with 5 g of CLA per day for seven weeks leads to a slight improvement in performance and small body composition changes. (x)
But here’s the catch. The effects of CLA supplements are not dramatic. In studies, it’s helped people lose a few pounds or prevent weight gain during the holidays, for example. For some, that’s a good enough reason to take these supplements. For others, it may not be worth it since unwanted side effects can occur with the supplementation.
- Anti-Cancer Properties
A CLA study to prevent metastatic (cancer cells) re-growth proved positive with the dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids, a naturally occurring CLA isomer. (x)
The Australian Journal of Dairy Technology also reports studies over the past 15 years to support anti-cancer agents in milk fat based on the natural existence of it, stressing its role in preventing cancer cells. One study induced mice with tumors and suppressed them with CLA when topically applied. Studies with cell cultures that include cancers of the prostate, liver, ovarian, melanoma, and leukemia showed CLA inhibited cancer cells’ growth. (x)
A more recent study performed on rectal cancer patients undergoing chemo and radiotherapy had their treatments complemented with the supplementations. The supplementation lessened their inflammatory levels and reduced both the tumor invasion and resistance to cancer treatment. (x)
- Resolves Atherosclerosis
Studies have surfaced that support for CLA suppresses the development of atherosclerosis. One study experimented on mice fed a cholesterol diet and given CLA. The results showed the self-destruction of the agents that cause atherosclerosis. (x)
A recent study performed on 90 volunteers with cardiovascular disease associated with inflammation and oxidative stress in atherosclerotic patients. The two-month clinical study consisted of CLA and Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation. The results proved positive with a significant reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress, reducing their atherosclerosis symptoms. (x)
- Benefits the Immune System
Studies report the benefits of taking it to boost your immune system. One study took 28 healthy female and male participants. They administered either CLA in triglyceride form or sunflower oil. The participants took soft gel capsules, totaling 3 g a day or 6 x 500 mg capsules each day for 12 weeks. The results were positive, showing that the CLA improved the function of their immune systems, reinforcing that it works on healthy humans. (x)
Another study performed on animal models showed it increases immune function and aids in developing nutritional therapies to reinforce nutritional applications to boost the resistance against infectious diseases while treating immune balances that cause allergic reactions and inflammation disorders. (x)
A study performed on old and young mice proved CLA has immune-enhancing properties based on the mice consuming the supplement over eight weeks. (x)
- Increases Bone Mass
The Journal of Food Science reports the positive effects of CLA on bone mass. A study performed on mice with a CLA-containing diet and extra dietary calcium levels improved CLA effects, which may prevent osteoporosis. (x)
Another study supports CLA, showing the positive influence on calcium and bone metabolism, exerting an anti-osteoporotic effect. The study proved that mice fed it noticeably maintained higher bone mineral density. (x)
A study performed on 136 postmenopausal women, averaging 68 years of age, showed supplementing with CLA positively benefited their bone mineral density. (x)
CLA Food Sources
The best food sources of CLA include: (x)
- Grass-fed beef, lamb, goat and deer
- Full-fat milk and yogurt from grass-fed animals
- Full-fat cheese from grass-fed animals, especially those aged less than ten months
- Butter from grass-fed animals
CLA Supplemental Dosage
Studies conducted on the effects of CLA incorporated dosages as low as 3.2 grams per day and as high as 6.4 grams. Research has shown that 3 grams per day may be the minimum dose for fat loss. They consider 6 grams of CLA per day is safe to consume, as there have been no severe side effects reported at this amount. (x) (x)
You should take CLA powder in 2000 mg increments up to 3 times a day, or as advised by a physician. You can encapsulate the powder or take it with plenty of water.
If the powder is not your thing, there are also CLA soft gels. You can take one or two gels two to three times a day with a meal. As always, consult your doctor before adding any new supplements to your health routine.
Where to Buy CLA Supplements?
You can purchase CLA as a powder or as softgel capsules at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor for pure dietary supplements.
BulkSupplements.com is not just a consumer brand. It also supplies pure ingredients to other food and supplement brands to make their products. All products at BulkSupplements.com are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices.
Are you interested in trying CLA powder or soft gels mentioned in this article as a dietary complement to prevent heart disease, increase bone mineral density, increase muscle mass, weight loss, and boost your immune system? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
CLA Side Effects
CLA added to foods, and the FDA has designated it “Generally Regarded as Safe.” You will see the abbreviation GRAS on the label.
There have been some unwanted side effects observed concerning CLA supplementation.
Who experiences these side effects and to what degree depends on many factors, including dosage, duration, and general health. (x)
Side effects seen in human studies include an increase in oxidative stress and insulin resistance, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. These side effects occur in higher doses. They’ve also observed them with safe levels. (x) (x) The digestive upset may also occur. In some animal studies, CLA supplementation promoted an accumulation of fat in the liver. (x)
Supplement vs. Food Sources of CLA
The amount of CLA found in supplements is higher than what most people consume through a typical diet. The food source occurs in different ratios than in supplements. It is essential to consider because there are no side effects caused by naturally occurring CLA in food consumption. Yet, there are side effects from CLA supplements.
The Bottom Line
Scientific reports and studies support CLA as a supplement. It potentially has positive influences on your body. Its popularity among bodybuilders keeps it on the shelves of health food and vitamin stores.
However, studies verify the supplement comparatively may offer more benefits besides reducing body fat and building muscle mass. CLA also modulates immune and inflammatory response, increases bone mass and reduces cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
You can swap out your usual dairy products for 100% grass-fed versions, and choosing grass-fed meats when possible is an excellent way to consume CLA safely. In supplement form, studies support that it helps people reduce body fat and increase muscle. Reasonable doses may be the key to success here for reaping the benefits while avoiding the side effects.
A variety of scientific research on humans supports the use of CLA. The benefits are substantial, but discuss taking CLA supplements with your physician.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.