Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplements Boost Immune Activity in Men

BACKGROUND: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring fat found in meat and dairy products. A growing body of research suggests that CLA may help enhance immunity. It is known primarily for its benefits in body composition management. In this study, the researchers assessed the effects of two different mixtures of CLA isomers on immune response in healthy subjects. Isomers contain the same molecules but in a different arrangement.

RESEARCH: Researchers asked 71 healthy men, ages 31 to 69 years, to take one of three supplement regimens daily for 12 weeks. One group took supplements containing 1.7 grams of CLA, consisting of 50 percent c9,t11 and t10,c12 CLA isomers. The second group took supplements containing 1.6 grams of CLA, consisting of 80 percent c9,t11 and 20 percent t10, c12 CLA isomers. The third group took capsules containing sunflower oil, which served as a placebo. The subjects received three vaccinations for hepatitis B 6 weeks after they began taking either CLA or placebo.

RESULTS: After the 12 week study, researchers measured the immune response of the subjects to the hepatitis B vaccinations. Sixty-two percent of the men taking the 50:50 mix of CLA isomers formed protective antibody levels, compared with 33% of the men taking placebos and 36 percent of the men taking the 80:20 mix of CLA isomers. Higher antibody levels indicate a more vigorous immune response.

IMPLICATIONS: In this study, those ingesting a 50:50 mix of c9,t11 and t10,
c12 CLA isomers had a stronger immune response after vaccination for hepatitis B. Based on this study, supplemental CLA might enhance the immune response to vaccinations. A strong immune response suggests that the body is capable of defending against infection.

Albers R, van der Wielen RP, Brink EJ, et al, "Effects of cis-9, trans-11 and trans-10, cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) isomers on immune function in healthy men." European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003; 57:595-603.

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