Nutrition Made Simple


September 04 2021



Conjugated linoleic acid is found predominantly in ruminant animal food  products. They are polyunsaturated fatty acids and contain two conjugated double bonds in various geometric (cis and trans) locations. The biohydrogenation of linoleic acid by bacteria that expresses linoleic acid isomerase in food sources such as beef, lamb, butter and dairy products produces conjugated linoleic acid.

The synthetic preparation of conjugated linoleic acid involves the alkaline catalysed reaction that involves the conversion of linoleic acid into conjugated linoleic acid from oils rich in linoleic acid like sunflower, corn and soybean oils.

The biohydrogenation of linoleic acids which is most commonly found in livestock feed, grass and hay mainly occurs in the rumen involving a series of fatty acid intermediates by linoleic acid isomerase. The inclusion of conjugated linoleic acids in the dairy products such as yoghurt, milk and cheese serves many health benefits as conjugated linoleic acid acts as an anti-carcinogenic, anti obesogenic and anti-atherogenic agent.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on body weight

Conjugated linoleic acid is most commonly marketed as a supplement to promote weight loss by Alvizia healthcare as CLA fat burner capsules. Exhaustive experiments show that the ingestion of conjugated linoleic acid promotes fat loss mainly due to increased lipolysis and faster fat oxidation which further reduces the triglyceride and non - esterified fatty acid levels and also lowers the adiposity. 

Conjugated linoleic acid promotes fat loss by enabling the oxidation of fat stores by altering the pathway of acyl-coenzyme A oxidase and carnitine palmitoyltransferase- 1. CLA promotes fat mobilization thus leading to weight and fat loss. Some studies have also shown that supplements of conjugated linoleic acid regulate the circulating levels of adiponectin, which is a hormone secreted from adipocytes that are endowed with anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic and anti-diabetic properties. 

Experiments show that conjugated linoleic acid supplements are particularly effective in people with metabolic syndrome (elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting glucose or triglycerides, low high-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol). The weight loss induced by CLA showed no evidence of having any negative metabolic consequences.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on glucose metabolism

In patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, administration of conjugated linoleic acid was successful in lowering body weight in those with insulin resistance while showing marked improvement in the indices of glucose intolerance. These studies conclude that CLA supplements can improve glucose metabolism in diabetic susceptible populations by lowering the body mass index and total adipose mass.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on atherosclerosis

The accumulation of lipids and inflammatory cells in the arterial wall leading to its rupture and the development of ischemic events is the characteristic feature of atherosclerotic plaque. Supplementing conjugated linoleic acid to the line of treatment shows reduced aortic lipid deposition, regression of established lesions and improvement in the plasma lipoproteins levels, decreased macrophage accumulation and decreased expression of pro-inflammatory genes thereby reducing the severity of the atherosclerotic lesions.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on cholesterol

The prevention of atherosclerosis is mainly achieved by the reverse efflux of cholesterol from peripheral cells such as macrophages and adipocytes to high-density lipoproteins ( HDL) which are known to be done by the presence of conjugated linoleic acid. It also reduces plasma cholesterol levels.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on exercise

Addition of nutrition supplements like conjugated linoleic acid by exercising individuals show beneficial effects by reducing fat mass and increasing LBM and also increases muscle mass from heavy exercise training while there were no ergogenic results on neuromuscular fatigue.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on circulatory markers

Supplements of conjugated linoleic acid have shown to elevate the levels of C- reactive protein, fibrinogen and plasminogen activator inhibitor -1 in plasma which are inflammatory markers synthesised in response to inflammation. Addition of conjugated linoleic acid to calcium in the diet reduces the incidence of pregnancy-induced hypertension. 

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on asthma

Studies show that in allergic airway disease like asthma, conjugated linoleic acid alters the inflammatory response and causes relief to the bronchoconstriction in asthmatic individuals by improving airway sensitivity therapy reducing their dependence on inhalers.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on blood pressure

Conjugated linoleic acid when taken in combination with anti hypertensives like ramipril shows a reduction in blood pressure in those diagnosed with uncontrolled hypertension.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on cognitive function

Research shows the possible benefits of taking conjugated linoleic acid supplements by causing small improvements in the ability to recall and also by improving memory and thinking skills.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on rheumatoid arthritis

Some studies show that taking conjugated linoleic acid supplements along with vitamin E alleviates pain and morning stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It also shows a decrease in the laboratory markers of swelling in those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Side effects of conjugated linoleic acid

Ingestion of conjugated linoleic acid by mouth is considered likely safe and might cause minor side effects such as stomach upset, diarrhoea, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, headache, backache and increased risk of bleeding as it might slow blood clotting. It should be stopped at least two weeks before undergoing any surgical procedure to prevent hemorrhagic blood loss.

It is safer to avoid consumption of conjugated linoleic acid in pregnant and breastfeeding women as there is no concrete evidence to corroborate its benefits.

Conjugated linoleic acid dosage

A dosage of 1.8 to 7 grams of conjugated linoleic acid per day is currently recommended according to body weight and can be adjusted according to the underlying conditions.

This article is the sole opinion of the author and Alvizia Healthcare holds no responsibility for the content. *



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