Guide to Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a nutritional supplement that breaks down fat1.

CLA is a natural fatty acid found in meat and dairy products. Regarded as a ‘good’ type of fat, we can’t make CLA ourselves and because of changes in farming methods and our reduced consumption of milk and high fat foods, we now consume only a fifth of the amount eaten by our Stone Age ancestors2.

Supplements containing CLA are derived from safflower oil, making it suitable for vegetarians.

What does CLA do?

CLA is an omega 6 polyunsaturated essential fatty acid, which is formed from linoleic acid. It’s a natural antioxidant, which helps to protect cells from damage from the action of free radicals in the body. These have been implicated in heart disease and other age-related illnesses.4

CLA is laid down in cell membranes where it helps to regulate cell metabolism. As well as changing the way body fat is processed, it modifies immune responses to reduce inflammation.

CLA increases the breakdown of fat and it is released from your fat cells. These fatty acids are then burned off as a fuel by your muscle cells. CLA therefore helps to build muscle rather than fat. CLA also reduces the size of fat cells and some researchers refer to it as the ‘missing link’ in weight-loss management.

Why ours is different

We exclusively use Clarinol® CLA who have over 15 years of experience, allowing us to bring you one of the best products on the market. Their unique patented production process results in a purer, more premium source of CLA.

Body fat

Obesity is a common problem in the UK, and it is estimated one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 to 11 is overweight.5

One study looked at the effects of a three-week low-calorie diet with and without CLA supplementation on body composition. Researchers found that those who took a combination of CLA, a thermogenic, protein, a multi-vitamin and followed a three-week low-calorie diet, had greater weight and fat loss than in those who just dieted. 6

Another 12-week study by the University of Medical Sciences Poland, found patients who took a CLA supplement over a 12-week period significantly reduced their hip circumferences compared to those who took a placebo pill (sunflower oil). However, there was no effect on body weight. The results led researchers to suggest that CLA may work well as a dietary supplement.7.

Other scientists have said the benefits of CLA in aiding weight loss have not been proven yet though.8

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the term for a range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. It's estimated one in three people have NAFLD to some degree. It's usually seen in people who are overweight.9

A recent study in 2016, by the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, found CLA improved insulin resistance, lipid disturbances, oxidative stress and liver function in NAFLD. Researchers concluded CLA could be considered as an effective complementary treatment in NAFLD. 10

Getting enough CLA from your diet

CLA dietary sources include beef, milk, butter and other dairy sources. Small amounts can also be found in lamb, chicken and pork. The amount of CLA in these foods varies depending on what the animal ate; CLA is much higher in beef and dairy from grass-fed cows compared to feeding them grains.11

As an alternative take a supplement. This can boost your dietary intake and is suitable for vegetarians as CLA is derived from the seeds and leaves of a safflower.

CLA safety

CLA is considered safe to use for most people. Avoid taking if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as its effects are still unknown.12

The correct dosage

There is currently no UK or EU recommended daily allowance or upper safe limit. The average diet supplies around 100 to 300mg CLA daily. A typical dose is 1,000mg twice a day.13

It is recommended that CLA should be taken for the recommended period of three months whilst also exercising and eating a well-balanced diet.


Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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References
1http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S0002-8223(04)00431-6/abstract
2http://nutritionexpert.healthspan.co.uk/conjugated-linoleic-acid
3http://globalscienceheritage.org/resources/volume-1-issue-2/conjugated-linoleic-acid-as-an-immunity-enhancer-a-review/
4http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531704001964
5http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obesity/Pages/Introduction.aspx
6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25875200
7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28071044
8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4574006/
9http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fatty-liver-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx
10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5048220/
11https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10531600
12http://nutritionexpert.healthspan.co.uk/conjugated-linoleic-acid
13http://nutritionexpert.healthspan.co.uk/conjugated-linoleic-acid

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

Medical Director Dr Sarah Brewer says: 'CLA dietary supplements are most well known in recent years as a weight loss aid, but they may also enhance the immune system and may even help prevent arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory properties.3'

Dr Sarah Brewer
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