What does conjugated linoleic acid do for you? Are there any side effects of conjugated linoleic acid supplements? Find answers to these questions and more, in this article.
Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. The human body cannot synthesize linoleic acid, but the body needs it for various metabolic processes. It is an essential fatty acid. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is an isomer of linoleic acid (a compound of linoleic acid with same molecular formula but different structural formula and different properties). Beef and dairy products are the main dietary sources of CLA. If you have doubts about the health benefits of CLA, then let me first tell you that CLA works great for cancer, atherosclerosis, obesity and food allergy reactions. Here is a list of benefits of conjugated linoleic acid.
Health Benefits of Conjugated Linoleic Acid
- CLA exhibits anti-cancer properties. The scientist Michael Pariza discovered CLA in 1987, and showed that it curbs carcinogenesis and prevents the growth of tumors. A diet rich in conjugated linoleic acid can help prevent various types of cancers in men and women.
- CLA supplements are one of the most sought after supplements by bodybuilders, because CLA promotes fat loss and helps build muscles. Muscle weighs more than fat. So CLA may not help lose weight, but it surely helps lose fat. You can enjoy a perfect body shape with the help of CLA.
- If the question ‘how does CLA reduce body fat’, is swirling in your mind right now, then here is the answer. CLA affects the functioning of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that encourages the storage of fat in the body. CLA promotes lean muscle mass and encourages the body to burn stored fat for energy. It increases the rate of metabolism.
- CLA prevents storage of fat in the adipocytes and skeletal muscle cells (main sites of fat storage). Many people have lost fat in the abdominal area and face region by consuming CLA regularly.
- Other fat burners make your heart work faster and try to create heat in the body. But CLA does not stimulate your heart and does not cause a high heart rate. Diet pills mostly help lose weight of the water in the body, but CLA helps reduce fat around your waist, which gives you that perfect body shape.
- CLA helps enhance heart health by promoting low cholesterol and triglycerides levels. It reduces the chances of cardiovascular diseases. It also lowers insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes symptoms). CLA can help reduce inflammation. It helps reduce the severity of allergic reactions. It strengthens your immune system. Thus, conjugated linoleic acid does work for various conditions.
Is Conjugated Linoleic Acid Safe?
Those who do not follow the instructions of the dietitian, regarding the dosage of the supplements, may suffer from certain side effects. Those who consume CLA supplements without knowing much about conjugated linoleic acid and weight loss, are likely to suffer from side effects of the supplement. Mild side effects like nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, skin rash, etc., might be experienced in case of overdose.
The FDA has offered Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status to conjugated linoleic acid for certain food categories. Food manufacturers can now add it to fluid milk, yogurt, meal replacement shakes, nutritional bars, fruit juices, and soy milk. It improves the nutritional value of the food. According to some experts, excessive CLA consumption can affect the health of an obese, and he / she may develop type 2 diabetes. They say that certain isomers of CLA (trans-10, cis-12 isomer) can cause adverse side effects.
The recommended dosage of conjugated linoleic acid for fat loss (for a healthy person) is 3.4 g or 3400 mg per day. Commercially, CLA is extracted from sunflower and safflower oil. Obtaining CLA from sunflower oil is cheaper than obtaining it from safflower oil, but safflower oil is the better source.
Remember, by consuming 1 g (1,000 mg) of sunflower oil CLA supplements, you get only 400 mg of CLA, while through 1 g (1,000 mg) of safflower oil CLA supplements, you can have 800 mg of CLA. So adjust the dose accordingly if you want to ingest 3 g of CLA per day. When a label says ‘1,000 mg capsules’, it means the capsule offers 1000 mg of sunflower / safflower oil, and not CLA. A capsule of 1285 mg of safflower oil can offer 1 g CLA.
Kangaroo meat, beef, safflower oil, and milk obtained from ruminant animals, are some of the best sources of conjugated linoleic acid. It is always better to consume conjugated linoleic acid by including the natural sources of the essential acid in diet. These days, fortified products containing CLA are also easily available. Some people may suffer from certain side effects after consuming the supplements, but natural food does not cause any side effects. If you prefer taking supplements, you should consult your physician for the proper dosage.