What are the side effects of conjugated linoleic acid?

Updated March 20, 2017

Typically used for weight loss, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has several known side effects when taken as a supplement. It is fine when ingested in small doses from everyday foods, such as meat and dairy products, but additional surpluses taken into the body lead to medical concerns.

Lowers Good Cholesterol

CLA lowers the levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood. HDL is commonly referred to as the "good" cholesterol and is needed by the body.


CLA can raise the blood sugar level, causing hyperglycaemia. This is especially important to note for those with diabetes or those at risk.


CLA can cause nausea. Upset stomach and dizziness are often found as side effects of continued usage.


Diarrhoea can be brought on by using CLA. If this occurs, stop the intake of CLA immediately.


CLA can bring about heartburn and indigestion. This could eventually lead to acid reflux disease and permanent damage.

Allergic Reactions

Those with allergic reactions to CLA may experience rashes and itchy skin. Hives and swelling are also typical.

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About the Author

Brennan McMahon was born and raised in Rowlett, TX (an eastern suburb 30 minutes from Dallas.) He graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2003 with a Bachelor's degree in literary studies, has worked on several TV shows and movies such as Prison Break and Walking Tall 2 & 3, and is an independent screenwriter and freelance writer/columnist now living in Dallas.