Conjugated linolenic acid -- or CLA for short -- is a naturally-occurring derivative of the essential fatty acid called linoleic acid 23. This fatty acid is found in dietary sources, such as beef and dairy products, as well as supplements. Though additional research is necessary to support the purported health benefits of CLA, this supplement may help reduce high cholesterol, decrease body fat and prevent certain forms of cancer. Before taking CLA supplements, discuss the side effects of this natural treatment with your doctor.
You may feel unusually fatigued as a side effect following treatment with CLA. Increased fatigue may negatively affect your ability to remain active and attentive during your normal daily activities. You may also find that you need to sleep for longer periods of time than usual to feel refreshed.
Can Vegans or Vegetarians Take CLA Diet Pills?
Intestinal irritation may occur after you take a dose of CLA. Consequently, you may experience frequent, urgent bowel movements that produce loose stools -- a side effect more commonly known as diarrhea. Episodes of diarrhea may also be accompanied by stomach pain, cramping or bloating. If diarrhea persists, you may be at risk of becoming dehydrated. Dehydration may result in symptoms of dizziness, headache, dry skin or increased thirst. Seek additional care from your primary medical provider if you experience recurrent episodes of diarrhea or if you exhibit symptoms of dehydration.
- Intestinal irritation may occur after you take a dose of CLA.
- Dehydration may result in symptoms of dizziness, headache, dry skin or increased thirst.
Treatment with CLA supplements may cause stomach discomfort in certain people. Sensations of nausea may lead to a temporary loss of your normal appetite. Contact your doctor if nausea doesn't subside or if you develop additional stomach-related effects, such as vomiting.
Additional Health Concerns
If you have a personal or family history of heart disease or diabetes, consult your physician before taking CLA supplements. Health professionals with the University of Michigan Health System report that treatment with CLA supplements may negatively affect the function of your blood vessels, which may elevate your risk of developing heart disease 2. Additionally, CLA supplements may also increase your blood sugar levels and may exacerbate diabetes symptoms in affected people.
Can Vegans or Vegetarians Take CLA Diet Pills?
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- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Conjugated Linoleic Acid
- University of Michigan Health System: Conjugated Linoleic Acid
- RxList: Conjugated Linoleic Acid
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. Linoleic acid. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database.
- Benjamin S, Prakasan P, Sreedharan S, Wright AD, Spener F. Pros and cons of CLA consumption: an insight from clinical evidences. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2015;12:4. Published 2015 Feb 3. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-12-4
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- Whigham L, Watras A, Schoeller D, Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, Issue 5, May 2007, Pages 1203–1211, doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.5.1203
- Kamphuis MM, Lejeune MP, Saris WH, Westerterp-plantenga MS. The effect of conjugated linoleic acid supplementation after weight loss on body weight regain, body composition, and resting metabolic rate in overweight subjects. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003;27(7):840-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802304
- Li X, Thomason PA, Withers DJ, Scott J. Bio-informatics analysis of a gene co-expression module in adipose tissue containing the diet-responsive gene Nnat. BMC Syst Biol. 2010;4:175. Published 2010 Dec 27. doi:10.1186/1752-0509-4-175
- Kasiappan R, Rajarajan D. Role of MicroRNA Regulation in Obesity-Associated Breast Cancer: Nutritional Perspectives. Adv Nutr. 2017;8(6):868–888. Published 2017 Nov 15. doi:10.3945/an.117.015800
- Smedman A, Vessby B. "Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation in humans--metabolic effects." Lipids August 2001.
- Allison Dilzer, Yeonhwa Park. "Implication of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) in Human Health." Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition Volume 52, Issue 6, 2012
- Arion Kennedy, Kristina Martinez, Soren Schmidt, Susanne Mandrup, Kathleen LaPoint, Michael McIntosh. "Antiobesity mechanisms of action of conjugated linoleic acid." The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry Agust 2009.
- gho J. Onakpoya, Paul P. Posadzki, Leala K. Watson, Lucy A. Davies, Edzard Ernst. "The efficacy of long-term conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplementation on body composition in overweight and obese individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials." European Journal of Nutrition March 2012.
- Shama V. Joseph, Hélène Jacques, Mélanie Plourde, Patricia L. Mitchell, Roger S. McLeod, Peter J. H. Jones. "Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplementation for 8 Weeks Does Not Affect Body Composition, Lipid Profile, or Safety Biomarkers in Overweight, Hyperlipidemic Men." The Journal of Nutrition May 18, 2011.
Rae Uddin has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2004. She specializes in scientific journalism and medical and technical writing. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Uddin earned her Master of Science in integrated biomedical sciences with an emphasis in molecular and cellular biochemistry from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.