CLA Safflower Oil weight loss has been increasingly mentioned in the media recently with promises that it can assist people with dramatic weight loss. As CLA Safflower Oil supplements are still manufactured and marketed, an in-depth scrutiny is warranted not only to answer the question “Does CLA work for weight loss?”, but also to uncover any other peculiarities surrounding the product.
Although the product is called CLA Safflower Oil, creating the impression that it is one extract, this could be misleading as safflower oil and CLA are in fact different substances, although related. In this article, we’ll do an analysis of both compounds.
We’ll also investigate the ingredients’ effects to determine if they help at all with losing weight. Then we’ll look at the technical aspects – side effects, dosage and so on.
We’ll present you with all the required information, beginning with discussions of both CLA and safflower oil, and will present a case for and against the usage of each. We’ll also assess existing reviews and will give you our conclusions on whether or not CLA Safflower oil weight loss supplements are able to assist people when they strive for a more appealing figure and a healthier body.
Connection between CLA and Safflower Oil
In research done by The American Heart Association, they suggested that Omega-6 acids are overall beneficial for heart health, providing it is consumed steadily but in moderate volumes. Following this suggestion, numerous studies have been done on both omega-6 fatty acids, as well as on polyunsaturated fats in a broader sense.
Ohio State University conducted a study to determine the effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and safflower oil supplements on obese women in menopause that had diabetes but did not need regular insulin injections.
35 women, split into two groups participated in the study and they were each administered 6.4 gm of fatty acid per day. CLA was administered to the first group, while safflower oil was used for the second. This continued for 16 weeks, but their medication or general routine was not changed.
The results obtained were very encouraging with subjects in the group supplemented with CLA experiencing a half a point decrease in the BMI indicator on average. This translates into a 3.2 % drop in total body fat. The group supplemented with safflower oil experienced a considerable trunk fat reduction, although their overall fat did not change significantly. Their muscle tissue did, however, increase, while blood sugar levels decreased by 15 points on average.
No other health effects were observed in either group, except that the hormone production of adiponectin increased noticeably in the safflower oil supplement group. Adiponectin determines the speed at which fat is burned by the metabolism.
Although these results opened up the way for safflower oil CLA extract supplements to be introduced to the market, there are some concerns. As the level of exercise was not changed, the question was raised as to where the excess fat had disappeared to.
The fact that adiponectin production increased has parallels with dramatic side effects caused by hormone level altering drugs. The missing fat could have been diverted to the muscle tissue and/or liver. If this were the case, it could cause diabetes in people who do not have it, or increase its severity if it is already present. There is also the possibility of it causing a wide variety of liver disorders.
Although the study uncovered exciting benefits of both safflower oil and CLA, the 16 week study period was not long enough to investigate the potential side effects.
Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA)
The main concern with CLA is that they have not been researched sufficiently. There is however enough data relating to how they are used as dietary supplements to conduct an analysis.
CLA are naturally produced when specific meats or dairy products are digested by bacteria in the intestines or stomach. Although isomers of specific substances share a chemical formula, their chemical structures are different. CLA are classified as both a cis- fatty acid and a trans- fatty acid, which is rare in biochemistry.
This allows us to clear up the CLA – safflower oil diet intricacy of terms and the resultant confusion. Although traces of linoleic acid is found in safflower oil, more than 75 % of it consists of a monosaturated acid called oleic acid. This means that safflower oil and CLA belong in the same category, but they do not affect the human body in the same way, nor can they be interchanged with each other.
It is therefore logical that the study mentioned used both substances in order to determine the different outcomes. As has been shown, the outcomes were very different, although both reduced body fat.
CLA was first spotlighted in 1979 by a study using mice demonstrated that chemically induced tumors were visibly shrunk by the fatty acid. The number of studies have continued unabated since then. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did however only recognize CLA as generally safe in 2008.
In spite of this, supplements incorporating CLA were being manufactured and sold previously, although the publicity surrounding CLA has increased since the FDA listing.
CLA is naturally synthesized from linoleic acid the human body. This is done by bacteria of the Bifidus strain residing in the intestines. Numerous dysfunctions and conditions, ranging from gluten intolerance, many digestive diseases and high acidic levels make the synthesizing of CLA impossible. One can therefore conclude that if CLA supplements are truly needed, questions of administration method and dosage remain.
CLA supplements were originally advertised as natural solutions to prevent and cure cancer. The scientific basis used was the mice study mentioned, although generalizing from cancer that was artificially induced in rodents to natural human tumors is rather far-fetched. Recently, CLA supplements are advertised for weight loss based on the results obtained in the Ohio State study.
The WebMD website states that CLA used in dietary supplements has daily doses of between 15 and 175 mg. The purposes reported are varied and range from counteracting mild food allergies, cancer, atherosclerosis and reducing the negative effects of chronic diseases on weight. CLA could be effective in reducing high blood pressure and obesity, but more research is required.
Any other assertions made by the manufacturers are speculative at best. Although the doses found in most supplements is safe for average healthy adults, people are advised to avoid CLA where bleeding disorders, diabetes and surgery are present. A daily dosage of less than 7 gm is quoted based on the Ohio State study, even though for daily doses bigger than 3.4 gm, no significant benefits have been identified.
Risks and Benefits of Safflower Oil
Although safflower oil has been used for cooking for decades, the benefits of using it have only been publicized recently. The major component of safflower oil is oleic acid, making up about 75 % of it. 13 % is made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids, while 8 % consists of saturated fatty acids. 100 ml safflower oil contains 7.1 mg vitamin K and 34.1 mg vitamin E. Safflower oil also has a strong antioxidative effect as it contains a serotonin derivate.
Although not much research has been done on safflower oil consumption’s effects, a few facts have come to light:
• HDL-C lipoprotein levels are slightly increased by safflower oil. HDL-C lipoprotein is also known as “good cholesterol”.
• One study demonstrated that it decreases C-Reactive protein levels. This contributes to the risk of contracting cardiovascular disease being lowered.
• Safflower oil slight elevates glycated hemoglobin levels, thus influencing the metabolism of glucose negatively.
There appears to be enough evidence that suggests that the protective effects of safflower oil can’t be obtained through supplementing with isolated CLA. This could possibly be caused by the significant presence of vitamin E in safflower oil. When the potential effect of safflower oil being used as a fat burner is analyzed, there is not enough evidence for this to be determined.
Using safflower oil may, however, present significant health threats. This is due to the fact that two safflower oil variants are manufactured. One of these is manufactured by pressing the flowers, while the other is made from the seeds of the plant. The first option may have negative effects including:
• Gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea.
• The increase of cholesterol levels resulting in worsening hypertension and being a major factor in the start of diabetes.
• In a study recently done on rodents in Japan, it was found that safflower oil radically increases pre-existing renal damage.
• In contrast to safflower oil extracted from seeds, the variant extracted from flowers contains polyunsaturated fatty acids that reduce HDL-C levels.
• People that know that they are allergic to ragweed, pollen, or mugwort, may be wise to stay away from safflower oil.
The WebMD website acknowledges that safflower oil extracted from the plant’s seeds has several benefits that will offer protection against cardiovascular diseases. The flower is in fact not mentioned at all, except for the fact that its consumption could induce abortions.
There are also sufficient warnings that there is not enough evidence to support that safflower oil would be beneficial to many conditions, including hepatitis C and cystic fibrosis.
Reviews and Claims of CLA Safflower Oil Diet Supplements
There are not many reviews on the internet concerning these supplements that can be trusted. Most information published contains unashamed boasts from manufacturers, either directly or masquerading as “independent” websites. Other websites offer very little useful information and don’t separate safflower oil and CLA, nor do they analyze multiple isomers or in fact synthesized vs. natural substances.
The main selling point of CLA Safflower Oil Supplements is its weight loss properties. Many claims are made that safflower is a miracle plant that lowers body fat levels without requiring any exercise. These claims are only supported by the Ohio State University study.
The problem with this is that the study administered CLA and safflower oil separately, while the study also does not mention that the women involved did not perform any physical exercises. The test subjects also had very specific conditions, and the results obtained by the study can’t be generalized for other populations.
Furthermore, the doses used were much higher than those found in dietary supplements and as the study was time limited, it can’t indicate if the changes observed were permanent. These points, together with the safety issues that the researchers raised, confirm that a weight loss pill with magical properties does not exist.
The manufacturers also claim that weight loss is achieved because the supplements act as blockers of fat and as appetite suppressors as a result of an increase in serotonin levels, No concrete evidence for this is however provided.
Although the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a 2009 nutritional study that claims to show links between weight loss and consuming safflower oil, the dosage administered in the study is much larger than what supplements could deliver.
When a serious disease is diagnosed, a doctor needs to ensure that patients and their family have all the information needed to make an informed decision. The same principle applies when dietary supplements are reviewed. In this case, the reviewer can never recommend with certainty whether or not a person should use a supplement. All a reviewer can achieve is to present the known facts at that moment.
In this specific case, there is a peculiar challenge. From the studies discussed, the research into safflower oil CLA, has reaped mostly positive results – the substances appear to assist with weight loss, but the risks inherent to long-term usage are not yet clear.
Suspicious marketing practices have however already shut down manufacturing operations and this raises red flags about the integrity of the companies involved.
When you use supplements, you are ultimately responsible to ensure that they present accurate information about all the ingredients. If you check with your doctor first and they approve, there should not be a problem. One does however need to be extremely cautious when selecting supplements.
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