Is conjugated linoleic acid safe for consumption? How is the safety profile of conjugated linoleic acid supplements? Scroll down to know about the benefits as well as side effects of this supplement.
One may be genetically predisposed to obesity, but poor lifestyle choices that one makes is one of the common causes of excessive weight gain. Obesity not only affects one’s appearance, but also makes one susceptible to various other health problems. Making lifestyle related changes such as following a healthy diet is certainly the healthiest way to lose weight. One may certainly benefit by avoiding fatty foods and including healthy foods to one’s diet. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is one such fatty acid that is claimed to be effective in inducing weight loss.
The dietary sources of CLA mainly include meat and dairy products. These days, CLA is also available in the form of supplements. One may wonder how consumption of conjugated linoleic acid may induce weight loss, but the most important question that would come to minds of users would be regarding the safety profile of these supplements. Are CLA supplements safe for our consumption? Though these supplements are marketed as excellent weight loss pills, there is a need to learn more about the safety profile of this supplement. After all, it’s pointless to use a supplement if the risks outweigh its benefits. Scroll down to find out more about CLA supplements.
What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid?
Linoleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid that is categorized under omega-6 fatty acids. A slight variation in the structure of linoleic acid gives rise to the formation of conjugated linoleic acid. As mentioned earlier, CLA is found in dairy products. Well, it is believed that the conversion of linoleic acid to the conjugated form takes place in the digestive tract of ruminant mammals. The change in the structure occurs when microbes present in the digestive tract of these animals act on linoleic acid. The claims regarding weight loss by the conjugated linoleic acid are based on animal studies. It is believed that CLA suppresses the action of lipoprotein lipase, which is an enzyme that is instrumental in promoting fat storage in the body. Thus, the amount of stored fat decreases when CLA acts on this enzyme. Some studies have revealed that CLA may also reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Is it Safe to Take Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplements?
While manufacturers often make tall claims about the products, it is best to consult a doctor before you start taking any dietary supplement. The risks associated with the dietary supplements are that the manufacturers are not required to seek the FDA approval before selling the supplements. Moreover, the manufacturers are not under a legal obligation to report adverse reactions that may be linked to the usage of these products. However, there are some ways in which the FDA may monitor the safety issues regarding the supplements. Certain guidelines have been formulated on ‘good manufacturing practices’ by the United States Pharmacopeia. So, to be on the safer side, consumers must make sure that they buy the supplements that are manufactured by reputed brands.
Is conjugated linoleic acid safe for pregnant women? Well, there isn’t enough evidence regarding the effect of these supplements on pregnant women and nursing mothers. There is a lack of evidence on the adverse drug interactions as well. So, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers must refrain from using these supplements. As is the case with any supplement, an overdose can cause serious side effects. The side effects that have been reported include gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea and vomiting. Some of the adverse reactions may occur if one is allergic to any of the ingredients of the supplement.
Serious side effects are associated with the impact of CLA on the blood sugar levels, especially in case of diabetics. It is believed that certain isomers of CLA may elevate blood sugar levels in diabetics or may make one susceptible to insulin resistance. Those who have been diagnosed with diabetes, must therefore, consult their health care provider before taking CLA supplements.
Use of CLA supplements can also increase the risk of diabetes in case of people who have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. It is also believed that CLA supplements may increase the levels of an inflammatory protein called C-reactive protein (CRP). High CRP levels figure as a risk factor for heart problems and vasculitis, which is why, those who come under high risk groups for heart disease must consult their health care provider before taking these supplements. Some studies have also linked the usage of this CLA supplements with lowering of the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. HDL, which is also referred to as the ‘good cholesterol’, performs the vital function of removing the excess cholesterol from the arterial walls and carrying it to the liver.
One cannot give a definitive opinion on the safety profile of CLA supplements due to the lack of research on the long term effects of CLA supplements as of now. Yet, one can safely include the dietary sources of CLA to one’s diet. Though some studies have revealed that these supplements may help in inducing weight loss, and antioxidant properties of CLA may help in strengthening the immune system, the overall effect of the supplements would also depend on an individual’s body constitution. So, the wisest thing to do would be to take CLA supplements under medical supervision.