Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Side Effects

Conjugated linoleic acids belong to the family of linoleic acid. They are abundant in different kinds of meat and dairy products.  Another non-animal source is mushroom. They are naturally occurring, but can also be found in food supplements. Conjugated linoleic acids have proven to be very useful to human health. They do have lots of health benefits such as antidiabetic and antihypertensive. It has also been proven that they have anti-carcinogenic properties. Below are some of the health benefits of conjugated linoleic acid

Health Benefits of Conjugated Linoleic Acid

  1. Antihypertensive: Conjugated linoleic acids have been proven to effective in the treatment of high blood pressure. This function is more evident when it’s combined with anti-hypertensive medications. An example of this is the Angiotensin receptor blocker, Ramipril. However, care has to be taken, especially when combining conjugated linoleic acids with other antihypertensive. This is because there is a possibility of the blood pressure dropping too low, leading to hypotension, and if not controlled, can lead to shock.
  2. Obesity: The mechanism of how conjugated linoleic acids reduce obesity has not been fully understood yet, although, several studies and experiments have shown that the amino acid is effective in reducing body weight. As an illustration, consuming conjugated linoleic acid orally every day has been shown to lead to weight loss. In addition, it decreases hunger feelings. Taking an average of three grams a day every day seems to lead to a reduction in the body fat. Even though conjugated linoleic acids helps in reducing the body weight, some forms of conjugated linoleic acid might be capable of increasing the risks of having metabolic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus and heart-related diseases
  3. For the treatment of cold: There have been reports that conjugated linoleic acid is effective for the treatment of common cold, but according to new studies, it might not be entirely effective for this condition.
  4. Metabolic diseases: Conjugated linoleic acid helps to reduce the body fat and bad cholesterol. There is a link between excessive body fat, obesity, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Taking an average of three grams of conjugated linoleic acid every day reduces the risk of having metabolic diseases.
  5. Anti-allergy: Consuming conjugated linoleic acid for three months is efficient in those people with allergies. Although it doesn’t eliminate the entire allergy symptoms, it does help people with serious cases of allergy live a comfortable and bearable life.
  6. For the treatment of respiratory obstructive diseases: Consuming conjugated linoleic acid for 3 months have been proven to help people with respiratory disorders. As an illustration, asthma patients taking conjugated linoleic acid for a period of 12 weeks, have demonstrated great improvements. It helps in improving the respiratory airway sensitivity and helps asthmatic patients live a comfortable life.
  7. Musculoskeletal diseases: Research has shown that taking conjugated linoleic acid alone or combining it with Vitamin E is effective for the treatment of musculoskeletal diseases. An example of this is rheumatoid arthritis. Consuming conjugated linoleic acid for a period of three months relieves the pain and joint rigidity associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
  8. Cancer: Studies have shown that people who consume food materials that are rich in conjugated linoleic acid have fewer cases of cancer. As an example, people who consume food rich in conjugated linoleic acid are less prone to having colorectal carcinoma. However, there is not enough proof to show that conjugated linoleic acid supplements also have the same effect. In addition, there have been reports that, consuming a large amount of cheese reduces the risk of having breast cancer, but a conflicting study was done, that indicated that consuming large quantities of cheese might increase the risk of having breast cancer. Overall, research is still on-going to know the exact effect of conjugated linoleic acid on breast cancer.
  9. Increases muscle mass: Some studies have shown that consuming conjugated linoleic acid, alongside other food substances such as creatine, helps in gaining muscle mass. This is important for athletes, and for the people that are trying to add more muscle mass. In addition, conjugated linoleic acid also increases the strength, especially for the people trying to make improvements in their core strength.

Even though conjugated linoleic acid has a lot of health benefits, it also has a correspondingly long list of side effects.

Side Effects of Conjugated Linoleic Acid

Consuming conjugated linoleic acid in quantities equivalent to that found in natural food is without any side effects. However, it might have some adverse effects when taken in amounts that are more than the ones found in natural food substances. This occurs when people consume conjugated linoleic acid as a food supplement. Examples of side effects caused by conjugated linoleic acid are diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, tiredness, and nausea.

  1. Hyperglycemia: People who are at risk of having diabetes mellitus, or high blood sugar should consult their doctors before consuming conjugated linoleic acid. This is because there have been reports that some type of conjugated linoleic acid increases the blood sugar level. This has been attributed to the body becoming resistant to insulin. Although conjugated linoleic acid might be useful in reducing the body fat, there have been reports of it causing the deposition of fat in the liver. This is what induces the insulin resistance.
  2. For the treatment of allergies: There have been reports of conjugated linoleic acid causing allergic reactions. Some examples of these reactions include body rash, swallowing difficulty, stridor, voice hoarseness, skin itching and so on. People that consume conjugated linoleic acid supplements should report to a doctor, should they notice any of these symptoms.
  3. Diarrhea and tiredness: Consuming the same amount of conjugated linoleic acid in natural food materials have no side effects, however, taking higher amounts of the conjugated linoleic acid might lead to side effects such as diarrhea and tiredness. People who consume conjugated linoleic acid supplements tend to have these problems. These side effects can be reduced by taking the conjugated linoleic acid supplements with food. In addition, pregnant women should avoid taking these supplements


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Hadaš, Z., Nevrkla, P. and Václavková, E. (2015). Effect of Conjugated Linoleic Acid on Reproductive Performance of Gilts. Journal of Agricultural Science, 7(6).

Quality Characteristics of Press Ham Containing Conjugated Linoleic Acid-Triglyceride. (2007). Journal of Animal Science and Technology, 49(1), pp.109-120.

Turpeinen, A., Bärlund, S., Freese, R., Lawrence, P. and Brenna, T. (2006). Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on linoleic and linolenic acid metabolism in man. British Journal of Nutrition, 95(04), p.727.