Human health effects of conjugated linoleic acid from milk and supplements

Nutr Res Rev. 2011 Dec;24(2):206-27. doi: 10.1017/S0954422411000114.


The primary purpose of the present review was to determine if the scientific evidence available for potential human health benefits of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is sufficient to support health claims on foods based on milk naturally enriched with cis-9, trans-11-CLA (c9, t11-CLA). A search of the scientific literature was conducted and showed that almost all the promising research results that have emerged in relation to cancer, heart health, obesity, diabetes and bone health have been in animal models or in vitro. Most human intervention studies have utilised synthetic CLA supplements, usually a 50:50 blend of c9, t11-CLA and trans-10, cis-12-CLA (t10, c12-CLA). Of these studies, the only evidence that is broadly consistent is an effect on body fat and weight reduction. A previous review of the relevant studies found that 3.2 g CLA/d resulted in a modest body fat loss in human subjects of about 0.09 kg/week, but this effect was attributed to the t10, c12-CLA isomer. There is no evidence of a consistent benefit of c9, t11-CLA on any health conditions; and in fact both synthetic isomers, particularly t10, c12-CLA, have been suspected of having pro-diabetic effects in individuals who are already at risk of developing diabetes. Four published intervention studies using naturally enriched CLA products were identified; however, the results were inconclusive. This may be partly due to the differences in the concentration of CLA administered in animal and human studies. In conclusion, further substantiation of the scientific evidence relating to CLA and human health benefits are required before health claims can be confirmed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fats / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Isomerism
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated / adverse effects
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated / chemistry
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated / therapeutic use*
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Weight Loss / drug effects*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated
  • 9,11-linoleic acid