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What is the Deal with Conjugated Linoleic Acid?

Mar 08, 2022

Today we are going to take a stroll around the neighborhood of some Essential Fatty Acids. Even though I have suggested that this discussion is centered around Conjugated Linoleic Acid, it is really about a lot more and the CLA is really just a major part or core of it all. Many other aspects are here as well and we will discuss them. As a general rule the Linoleic Acid is usually called Omega 6 Fatty Acid. The Linolenic Acid is usually called Omega 3 Fatty Acid. In this discussion we are going to introduce a new Fatty Acid, actually it isn’t all that new, but new to most people and that is Omega 7 EFA. Also, Vaccenic Acid and Rumenic Acid will be introduced.

CLA is both a trans fatty acid and a cis fatty acid. Normally, a trans fat, it is considered to be bad as it applies to human health. It is, if certain conditions are not met. But when those certain conditions are met, it then can be beneficial. The whole CLA begins its journey in the Rumen of a Ruminate. Rumenic Acid formed along with Vaccenic Acid. This results in the production of  Omega 7 trans fat. This is done by a process of Biogeneration of Dietary Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Rumen. This part of this paragraph is important because it sets up the next stage or a totally different angle and this is where the Human connection comes into play.

The trans fat aspect as mentioned earlier is actually beneficial because with humans, they produce certain elements, Isomers in this case of the CLA, from Oleic Acid, namely Vaccenic Acid. This Vaccenic Acid is then converted into CLA by a process of Delta-9-Desaturase which in the end, ends up producing… drum roll please… Omega 3 Fatty Acid. So a human can produce Omega 3 Fatty Acid. As I mentioned this process can work and the Omega 6 trans fat which is “Bad '', turned into a good thing, of which most people are deficient in, so they get a better balance of the Omega 6 and Omega 3 ratios. This whole deal is dependent on a proper ratio, balance, and elements of Rumenic Acid, Omega 6 EFA, Vaccenic Acid and Oil(s) high in Oleic acid. Oleic Acid is at the top of the desired Monounsaturated fat within the human diet.

Monounsaturated Fat has been studied extensively and the conclusion is that it is associated with a decrease in the LDL cholesterol and an increasing effect of the HDL cholesterol. It is also associated with being responsible for the blood pressure lowering effect of Olive Oil. IN a big study that was done in 2017 found that adding Oleic Acid to a diet will influence or be beneficial in regulating body weight. (PMID 32135005, PMC 7360458). Researchers have also concluded that this deal helps to affect changes in the dietary habits of humans and with high quality Fatty Acids goes a long way, almost to the point of fact across the board, to prevent obesity and its metabolic complications. In one study that looked at 28 other studies concluded that diets enriched with Olenic Acid had a remarkable influence with fat balance, body weight, and energy expenditure. They also made note that they also observed that the studies observed Olenic Acid reduced abdominal fat and central obesity.

Now back to the aforementioned paragraph talking about all of these Omegas, one must also mention that Humans do not have the ability to introduce double carbon bonding beyond the 9 and 10 bonds. So even though a creation of Omega 3 can be synthesized by a certain process, an additional process has to take place to make the Omega 3 and 6 get the job done by having these bondings beyond the 9 and 10 bonds take place. Since the human body has to have the Omega 3 and 6 EFA’s,  the body has figured out a way to get around the inability to bond beyond the 9 and 10 points and that is a process of Alternative Desaturation and Chain Elongation.

So just what is this “Alternative Desaturation and Chain Elongation”?. Since you asked, I will attempt to answer it. OK< we start off with LA, which is Omega 6. Then we have a thing called Arachidonic Acid, or known as AA, which is synthesized from LA. Then AA is converted to DPA, Docosapentaenoic Acid. Although it is more efficient if a person goes the route of ingestion than by conversion. This kind of the idea behind the Omega 6 deal and how it ends up doing it’s conversion process thing. Then with the Omega 3 deal we have ALA, which is the  Omega 3 EFA. The ALA is converted to DHA, which is Docosahexaenoic Acid. IT is also in a less efficient process than if a person ingested the Omega 3 it’s self. Here is where the rub comes in; If more LA, (6),than ALA, (3) is in the diet then the conversion process tends to favor DPA formation from LA in place of forming DHA from ALA. What this means is that whatever the type, either 6 or 3, then the dominant one will lead the way in formation of what it does, IE; make more 6 related stuff than 3 stuff for example, if there is more LA than ALA. This a situation of needing to feed the person more Omega 3, so that is the dominant course of action to evolve.

When it comes to supplementing for CLA, as there is a belief that it will help prevent cancer, for example, it can lead to a lot of undesired effects. I see this as a situation of people not really understanding this process very well. The idea is that Omega 6 can lead to cancer formation. In some situations, it can appear to be a contributing factor, but the side effects are an elevated Omega 6 content. While the data suggests that it may have a small increase in helping some animal species, it does not appear to help humans. In fact it does lead to inflammation, as does increased Omega 6 consumption directly from food, but the interesting thing is that it also reduces serum concentrations of Adiponectin, which is a protein hormone associated with Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetics always seem to have a problem with this Hormone, always. Could this improper ratio balance between Omega 3 ad Omega 6 and a lack of conversion of the excess Omega 6 be one of the major contributors to the whole Type 2 deal? When one studies this thing out, it make a person ponder the idea.

In the beginning of this discussion I kind of poo pooed the idea of grass fed animals have more Omega 3 and grain fed animals having more Omega 6. Well, this is partially true, but I hope that you can see that there is a whole lot more to the deal than just a simple grass = Omega 3 and grain = more Omega 6. Nature seems to have built in a fail/safe, backup plan in this respect.

Overall, most of us have no problem getting enough Omega 6, but we all pretty much have trouble getting enough Omega 3. We can see that from the studies that have been done that oral ingestion of foods that are high in Omega 3 related factors are really the best way to balance out this situation. Some of the good sources beyond the typical foods for ALA / DHA are Human Breast Milk, Fatty Fish Oils, or even some species of Algae Oil. Many seeds and many other oils also contain these ALA / DHA factors. There are some species of Mushrooms that will contribute to the ALA / DHA factors. So even though there are not many sources for Vegans and Vegetarians, they can benefit from working with the balancing of the LA and ALA. But the basic bottom line when it comes to balancing the LA and ALA, which is vital for us to do so, Oils are really one of the most effective foods. Obviously Olive Oil is one of the best, Sunflower Seed Oil is quickly making a showing for this issue., A lot of stuff out there in the Agricultural production side of things. More acres are being planted every year and varieties with higher levels of Oleic Acid are being bred and planted.

The bottom line here is that these oils like Olive and Sunflower Seed oils are fantastic for nutritional balancing of the whole CLA deal, which leads to weight loss, lower incidences of cardiovascular issues, less inflammation and the list goes on and on. I also hope that you can see some of the surface factors involved with this whole deal.

Thank you for your time and interest. KK

End of Discussion.

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