its health benefits

its health benefits

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What is conjugated linoleic acid or CLA? What is its dosage? Is it really a magic dietary supplement for weight loss? Are there any precautions to take before using this product? Doctor Jean-Yves Dionne, pharmacist and expert in natural health products, agreed to answer our questions.

What is conjugated linoleic acid?

“Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is an unsaturated fatty acid derived from the omega 6 family. It is an isomer of linoleic acid with the specificity of having conjugated double bonds. This is what gives it its beneficial properties for the human body. Besides, we should not say conjugated linoleic acid but conjugated linoleic acids because there are several compounds, it is a cocktail of isomers. The different isomers all have the same composition of atoms but the place of the double bonds and the shape of the molecule vary” explains the pharmacist.

Conjugated linoleic acid is found in large quantities in milk and red meat (beef, mutton) from animals raised in the traditional way: pasture and green hay. Bacteria from the digestive flora of ruminants have the ability to transform linoleic acid into conjugated linoleic acid. Unfortunately, it is almost absent from industrial food because of the type of food given to animals. To enrich ruminant products with conjugated linoleic acid, animal feed must be improved. It can nevertheless be found in organic milk or very good quality meat. he completes.

It is also possible to find it in the form of a food supplement, called CLA, as is the case with this product from Hivital containing 180 capsules.

To summarize, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA or CLA) is a derivative of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid belonging to the omega-6 family. It is found mainly in the fats of milk and meat of ruminants such as mutton and beef.

In general, the major sources of conjugated linoelic acid are dairy products, especially aged cheeses. The CLA in food supplements generally comes from laboratory processing of soy, sunflower or safflower oil.

Can conjugated linoleic acid be synthesized?

“It is possible to synthesize conjugated linoleic acid from safflower, sunflower or soybean oil”.

What are the benefits of conjugated linoleic acid?

“This substance is used to stimulate weight loss. It acts on fat cells and fat cells in the abdomen. It stimulates fat cells to convert fat into energy. Conjugated linoleic acid is interesting in taking in charge of the metabolic syndrome. That is to say, it helps to promote good cholesterol, regulate blood pressure and improve the sensitivity of cells to insulin” describes the pharmacist. “Conjugated linoleic acid is indicated for those who are trying to lose abdominal weight, who have diabetes, cholesterol and an increasing waist circumference”.

Thus, conjugated linoleic acid has several benefits:

  • It helps to promote muscle mass and reduce fat mass: several animal studies show that CLA leads to a decrease in fat mass and an increase in muscle mass. However, this effect varies according to the age of the individuals and their weight. It should be noted that conjugated linoleic acid does not cause weight loss as such, since there is also muscle mass gain;
  • CLA has an effect of normalization on glucose metabolismbut also, in some cases, can increase insulin resistance;
  • Conjugated linoleic acid would facilitate muscle mass gain in people who engage in regular physical activity. Taking CLA could therefore be relevant in the elderly, who tend to lose muscle mass easily;
  • Conjugated linoleic acid may help lower blood lipid levels: some studies show that taking CLA helps to raise good cholesterol, others that it lowers triglycerides, or even that it may decrease HDl levels. However, studies remain very divergent on this subject;
  • Several studies on animals reveal that CLA would act positively on the immune mechanisms. Indeed, CLA would reduce allergic reactions by reducing the production of certain antibodies (IgE). However, the few clinical studies that have been carried out on humans fail to confirm these assertions.

Is a conjugated linoleic acid deficiency possible?

“Conjugated linoleic acid is not an essential nutrient. We cannot speak of a deficiency in the proper sense. Besides, there is no test to measure conjugated linoleic acid”.

What is the dosage?

“It is not a medicine but a food supplement. The recommended dose is 3 to 4 grams per day”.

What scientific studies are available?

“Several studies are available on the subject. When conjugated linoleic acid is not used as a cocktail but only one compound is given to the patient, the studies fail to show a beneficial effect of the substance. A published study in December 2020 and involving 60 obese volunteers was able to show that conjugated linoleic acid could reduce fat mass in favor of muscle mass” quotes Jean-Yves Dionne.

A meta-analysis published in 2007 succeeded in concluding that a dose of 3.2 grams per day of conjugated linoleic acid allowed a modest reduction in body fat. “Regarding the effects of conjugated linoleic acid on diabetes or the stimulation of the immune system, they have been observed in animals but not in humans. explains the pharmacist. Regarding insulin resistance, one of the isomers would be favorable (cis9, trans-11) and the other unfavorable (trans-10, cis-12).

Are there any precautions for conjugated linoleic acid?

“To my knowledge, there are no contraindications. The substance is of course not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding as a precautionary measure. Regarding interactions, it could be that conjugated linoleic acid increases the effects of drugs antihypertensive and anticoagulant drugs, but no cases have been reported”.

Does linoleic acid cause side effects?

“Flatulence is possible after taking conjugated linoleic acid”.

In general, taking CLA can cause mild intestinal disorders and fatigue and less flexibility of the arteries. Another negative point, taking CLA in diabetics and obese people can lead to an increase in insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.

To conclude, do you have a message for the readers?

“Like all products that help lose weight, conjugated linoleic acid alone will not work! It’s a little extra but it’s not enough. It’s not a magic product! To lose weight, you have to change your eating habits (proportion carbohydrates, lipids, proteins) and increase your energy expenditure” summarizes Jean-Yves Dionne.

If you want to know more, Doctor Jean-Yves Dionne has a blog. You can check out an article on linoleic acid here.

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