Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA)

Conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) are an isomer of linoleic acid. The CLA are produced by biohydrogenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the rumens of dairy and beef cattle, sheep, etc. Meats, milk and milk products from these animals contain CLA. Smaller amounts are found in processed oil, presumably as the result of heating and oxidation.

The CLA content of ruminant meat and milk can be increased by manipulation of the cow’s dietary regimen. Consumption of these foods by humans increases the CLA content of breast milk and blood plasma. CLA have been reported to have a variety of beneficial effects. Therefore, it has stimulated and publications. Here are the brief beneficial effects of CLA:

  1. Anticarcinogenic for carcinogen-induced tumors and neoplasias in stomachs and colons of mice and rats, mammary tumors of rats, and cultured human mammary cells. By extrapolation from rat studies, more CLA in the diet might protect against breast cancer. Ip, et al. calculated that 0.1% dietary CLA, the preventive amount for rats, would be equivalent to daily intake of 3 g for humans.

  2. Overcame catabolic responses to endotoxin injection.

  3. Improved weight gain and feed efficiency in rats.

  4. Enhanced select immune functions in several animals.

  5. Antiatherosclerotic in rabbits. Reduced total LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Reduced total cholesterol and early atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic hamsters.

  6. Is a potent antioxidant although this has been questioned.

  7. Modulated bone metabolism.

  8. Altered lipid composition in mouse liver. Reduced body weight; increased feed efficiency.

  9. Decreased body fat and increased lean body mass in mice.

CLA is surely posses many beneficial effects for our health. Its consumption will help our body in preventing from disease. Milk is the one of the CLA resources. Therefore, milk consumption is very suggested for human. McGuire et al. gave an average consumption in the United States as 50 to 180 mg/d for adults and 224 mg/d for lactating women. McGuire et al. also noted that consumption of only two glasses (16 oz, or 469 mL) of milk/d (55 mg/d of CLA) will be decreased the risk of breast cancer in women. Women should increase their ingestion of foods containing CLA while nursing their babies and protect themselves from breast cancer.


Reference: Robert G. Jensen, “Lipids in Human Milk”, Lipids, vol. 34, no. 12, 1999.

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