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Complementary Medicine

Is Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplement Safe to Take?



Is conjugated linoleic acid supplement safe to take and what are the benefits of this supplement?


The following is a quote from a recent review article (Alternative Medicine Review, Aug. 2001) on conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplementation: "In humans evidence is currently ambiguous as to whether CLA supplementation has a significant effect on body composition. Despite favorable changes in lipid levels in animal models, a beneficial effect in humans has not yet been established. While some of the changes reported are consistent with an improved lipid profile, declines in HDL and increases in lipoprotein (a) have also been observed in some subjects. Available evidence suggests CLA supplementation has no impact on immune system performance in healthy subjects." Linoleic acid is an omega-6 essential fatty acid. Most authors agree that in our diets, we have too much omega-6 compared to omega-3 fatty acids. My recommendation would be to NOT supplement with CLA, but to increase sources of omega-3 fatty acids like cold water fish or flaxseed oil. High doses of linoleic acid can actually inhibit the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids which appear to decrease atherosclerosis, blood clotting, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

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Response by:

Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd
Formerly, Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University