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CLA - Side Effects and Cons

Updated on February 22, 2014

<< Part 4 - Research Proven Benefits <<

If you’re eating foods that are high in CLA, like grass-fed meat and dairy products, then you have nothing to worry about.

But a lot of people are supplementing with CLA and that can cause some problems.

Your body may not be use to getting that much straight CLA, and sometimes supplement companies include a different kind of CLA isomer (chemical compound) that can be troublesome.

CLA Isomers

As I mentioned before, conjugated linoleic acids are both a cis fatty acid and a trans fatty acid.

One of the most common CLA isomers in beef and milk is the cis-9, trans-11 isomer, which most supplement companies will include in their CLA supplements. But you see, this IS NOT the isomer that has caused the problems in some studies; this is the more natural form.

The other CLA isomer that some supplement companies include in their CLA supplements is the trans-10, cis-12 isomer. And THIS is the isomer that some studies have linked to causing some side effects.

The problem is that your CLA supplement label probably isn't going to tell you what isomers are in it. BUT some studies have shown that a mixture of these two isomers had no adverse effects; I just thought I’d bring it to your attention.

So, in some cases the t10, c12 version of CLA has caused issues, but in other cases it hasn’t.

But what symptoms should you look out for (just in case it happens to you)?

Possible Serious Side Effects

As I’ve said before, CLA will help lower your cholesterol, but it’s also going to be lowering good cholesterol! It'd be great if it only lowered bad cholesterol but it doesn't seem like that’s the case. So, that’s one reason why you might want to be careful with CLA supplementation.

There have also been concerns that (possibly because of the t10, c12 isomer) overweight people might have an increased risk of getting diabetes, when supplementing with CLA, especially if you have metabolic syndrome. It's been said at times to raise blood sugar levels, causing hyperglycemia, because some forms of CLA cause insulin resistance.

Another problem is that some people have allergic reactions to CLA supplements, which can bring on things like hives, rashes, swelling, wheezing, or difficulty swallowing.

Possible Minor Side Effects

But some side effects from CLA supplementation aren’t as serious and can be decreased once your body gets use to it, or by taking protein with your CLA supplements (as it would naturally be found in meat and dairy products).

These minor side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue

So, there are some side effects that you will need to watch for if you’re supplementing with CLA, depending on the isomers used. But if you’re increasing your CLA intake by switching to grass-fed meats and dairy products then you shouldn’t have to worry about any of these side effects.

As you all know, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing; and could possibly cause some of the side effects, we just went over, to occur. So, I think we should go over the proper dosages of CLA to take when supplementing with it.

>> Continue Reading Part 6 - How Much Should I Take and When? >>

© 2010 Ben Guinter

Have You Ever Experienced Side Effects from CLA Supplements?

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    • Bendo13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Guinter 

      8 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      You're welcome entertianmentplus

      The difference between sunflower and safflower oils is price and CLA content...

      Sunflower oil is cheaper but contains less CLA..

      Just be sure to check the label to see how much CLA is in it.. if it says 1000mg of sunflower oil then you're only getting about 400mg of CLA... but if it says 1000mg of safflower oil then you're getting about 800mg of CLA

      So if you can find an inexpensive safflower oil it'd be a better route because you'd end up with more CLA..

    • Bendo13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Guinter 

      8 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Yeah Hello, hello, it's sad that most things that are good for you end up costing more these days... Companies have cut costs in so many ways that they never end up having an inexpensive way to use when they want to switch back to the healthier route. I think they should work more on making the healthier methods more efficient and cost effective.

    • Hopmoney wizard profile image

      Hopmoney wizard 

      8 years ago from barak

      im confused about the source of cla supplements in store. i see derived form safflower and the other one is from sunflower. what is the difference?

    • entertianmentplus profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Good info thanks

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a wellwritten hub with great and good advice. I don't unerstand one thing that the grass-fed beef has to be so expensive. Let's face it - it grows natural - in other words no expense. With other feeds they have to pay for it. It is disgusting.

    • Bendo13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Guinter 

      8 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Thanks katiem2! Are you tempted to dry grass-fed meats and dairy?

    • katiem2 profile image


      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      WOW, you had me going....a vegan.... Great WORK!

      Peace :)


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