Are CLA Supplements Dangerous? | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Are CLA Supplements Dangerous?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • CLA supplements may cause certain side effects.
  • CLA is not made by the body, so you need to get it from food sources or supplements.
  • CLA supplements may cause inflammation in the body.
  • The recommended amount of CLA you should have on a daily basis varies from 2 grams to 7 grams.

CLA, which is also known as conjugated linoleic acid, is a type of fat that has many health benefits.

It is found in a number of food sources and is also available in supplement form. Although CLA from food is considered to be safe, the CLA supplements may cause certain side effects.

CLA is beneficial for a number of different things and as a result, supplement companies have started producing different forms of it and offering them to the public. Because these are synthetic forms of CLA rather than natural ones, there is always the chance that your body may not respond favorably to the supplements.

Paired with a nutritious diet and the appropriate supplements, a healthy lifestyle also requires regular exercise. Go PRO today for access to certified personal trainers, workout plans, goal trackers, and more.

What Does CLA Help With?

One of the big benefits of CLA is that it helps to fight off cancer. It does this by obstructing all of the phases of cancer, which are initiation, promotion, and metastasis.

Breast cancer is one type of cancer that CLA helps prevent, as is colon, prostate, and skin cancer.

One of the reasons that CLA supplements have become so popular is that studies have shown it can help with weight loss. CLA may help to decrease body fat while holding on to lean muscle mass, which also increases your metabolic rate.

These results are more pronounced when CLA is taken in conjunction with an exercise program.

CLA has also been shown to lower levels of triglycerides and cholesterol as well as lower blood sugar levels in the body. It also helps to improve your immune system.

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What Are the Side Effects of CLA Supplements?

Because CLA is not made by the body, you need to get it from food sources or supplements. Unfortunately, some of the CLA supplements available may cause certain side effects.

According to the website for Consumer Affairs, research done on rats and mice showed that CLA supplements did aid in weight loss. However, they also caused insulin resistance. It is unknown whether the effects would be the same in humans.

Although many people do not notice side effects from CLA supplements, there is a chance of some minor effects, especially if more than the recommended dose is taken. These side effects may include indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, and fatigue.

If you do notice gastrointestinal effects, try taking the supplement when you eat. More serious side effects may occur and in those cases, you should stop taking the CLA supplement.

An allergic reaction may occur from some of the forms of CLA supplements. This includes swelling of the tongue, mouth, or face, hives, a skin rash, itching, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.

CLA supplements may cause inflammation in the body. This is shown by an increase in C-reactive protein. This increased inflammation can lead to atherosclerosis, blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks.

Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding are fine getting CLA from food sources. However, they should stay away from using CLA supplements.

Consult your doctor if you have any health issues such as diabetes or heart disease before taking CLA supplements. It is also unknown how certain medications may interact with CLA supplements.

What Are Food Sources of CLA?

Because CLA supplements may cause side effects, it is better to get CLA from natural food sources, as this will not lead to side effects. Meat is a good source of CLA.

You can get good amounts of CLA from beef, turkey, goat, deer, lamb, kangaroo, and sheep. Look for animals that have been grass-fed rather than grain-fed, as the grass contains a certain chemical that helps the animals produce more CLA.

Dairy products are another good source of CLA. Higher fat products contain more CLA than low-fat ones, such as whole milk as opposed to skim milk.

Butter and cheese also contain good levels of CLA. Again, look for dairy products that are produced by grass-fed animals. Eggs are also a source of CLA.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, you may have more difficulty getting enough CLA into your system. Mushrooms are a good source of CLA, as are safflower oil and sunflower oil. Other kinds of oil are not good sources of CLA.

The typical recommended amount of CLA you should have on a daily basis varies from 2 grams to 7 grams. It depends on how much you weigh and what you are taking it for.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I have to take supplements?

Unless your doctor has instructed you to take certain supplements, you do not have to take them.

Are supplements safe?

Whether or not dietary supplements are safe to take depends on a number of factors. Learn more about the safety of supplements here.

What supplements do I need to take?

No one can answer that aside from your doctor. To learn more about the various supplements that doctors commonly recommend, check out this article.

Pair your supplement regimen with a regular exercise routine by going PRO today for access to certified personal trainers, workout challenges, and more.

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