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How Much CLA is Enough?

There is increasing evidence from the literature to suggest that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) provides various health advantages. However, the amount of CLA that people need to consume to derive these potential benefits remains to be elucidated.

Research on CLA is still in its early phase, and the amount of dietary CLA required for healthful effects has yet to be determined.

According to data extrapolated from animal models, a 70-kg individual would benefit from a daily intake of 3.5 g of CLA.1 Human studies on CLA supplementation in doses of up to 7 g per day have shown no adverse effects.2

Furthermore, the absorption of CLA differs according to individual CLA isomers. The cis-9,trans-11 isomer, which is thought to be the most biologically active isomer, can be stored and metabolized by the human body. If CLA from natural sources only is considered, short-term animal studies suggest that an equivalent daily intake of about 1.5 g of the cis-9,trans-11 isomer would be beneficial.3

The estimated usual intake of CLA in the typical North American diet is insufficient to produce health benefits.4 Although this area of research is still in its infancy, recent studies suggest that increasing the consumption of milk products would be advantageous to health, as these foods contain the highest quantities of CLA.

For more information: The Effects of CLA on Health

CLA Content of Selected Foods from Ruminants*1,5

Food (serving) mg CLA / g fat g fat / serving mg CLA / serving
Milk and milk products
Milk, 2% (250 mL) 4.1 5.1 20.9
Condensed milk (125 mL) 7.0 14.1 98.7
Cultured buttermilk, 2% (250 mL) 5.4 5.2 28.1
Plain yogurt, 2%–4% (175 g) 4.8 4.9 23.5
Low fat yogurt, 1%–2% (175 g) 4.4 2.7 11.9
American processed cheese (50 g) 5.0 12.3 61.5
Cheddar cheese (50 g) 4.1 16.6 68.1
Butter (15 mL) 4.7 11.7 55.0
Sour cream, 14% (125 mL) 4.6 17.1 78.7
Ice cream (125 mL) 3.6 11.8 42.5
Meat and alternatives
Lamb (90 g) 5.8 12.7 73.7
Fresh ground beef (90 g) 4.3 12.3 52.9
Veal (90 g) 2.7 6.1 16.5
Fresh ground turkey (90 g) 2.6 6.5 16.9
Chicken (90 g) 0.9 12.1 10.9
Pork (90 g) 0.6 13.8 8.3
Egg yolk (1 large) 0.6 5.3 3.2
Salmon (90 g) 0.3 5.7 1.7
Vegetable oils
Safflower oil (15 mL) 0.7 13.8 9.7
Sunflower oil (15 mL) 0.4 13.8 5.5

* CLA content varies with the season and the diet of the animal.


  1. MacDonald HB. Conjugated linoleic acid and disease prevention: a review of current knowledge. J Am Coll Nutr 2000;19(2):1115-85.
  2. Dilzer A and Park Y. Implication of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in human health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2012;52(6):488-513.
  3. Parodi PW. Milk fat in human nutrition. Aust J Dairy Technol 2004;59(1):3-59.
  4. Jutzeler van Wijlen RP. Long-term conjugated linoleic acid supplementation in humans – effects on body composition and safety. Eur J Lipid Sci Technol 2011;113(9):1077-94.
  5. Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File. 2012.

Keywords: conjugated linoleic acid , trans fat

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