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Are inflammation and immunity the next big areas for CLA?

By Stephen Daniells , 29-Aug-2012
Last updated on 29-Aug-2012 at 18:08 GMT

Beyond cardiovascular health and weight management, the next big areas for CLA are inflammation and immune support, say researchers at the cutting edge of CLA science.

While inflammation and immune support are emerging areas of science, more CLA-containing food products are also expected to emerge soon, said Michael Pariza, PhD, recognized as the founder of the modern field of CLA research.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA after a symposium on CLA last week during the American Chemical Society national conference in Philadelphia, Dr Pariza said: “People who take CLA just feel better. That’s probably one of the reasons why CLA has a long history of use in supplements.”

The ingredient has a much shorter history in food and beverages, however, since it only received GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in 2008.

Michael Pariza, PhD

While some smaller more entrepreneurial companies have launched CLA-containing foods, products from the big players are still to emerge.

“My understanding is that there are a lot more products close to launch,” said Dr Pariza.

The ingredient

CLA is a fatty acid naturally present in ruminant meat and dairy products. Due to changes in the Western diet, average intake of CLA has fallen; if the fat is removed from a dairy product to make a low fat version that will be acceptable to consumers, CLA is removed along with it.

The ingredient was recently highlighted by market analyst Euromonitor as a nutrient with a “key” role to play in the global weight management market.

The ingredient is most often found as a mixture of isomers: cis-9, trans-11 and trans-10, cis-12.

Marketing spend

Mark Cook from the University of Wisconsin-Madison told NutraIngredients-USA that the next big areas for the ingredient would be inflammation, longevity and immune support.

“Inflammatory disease is one of the biggest areas for CLA, but it has not caught on in terms of marketing,” said Cook, who has worked on studies of CLA for atherosclerosis and colitis.

Mark Cook, PhD

“CLA has been going under the radar because when people take a supplement there is usually a spike and then a decline, but CLA continues to perform after many years.

“There’s a lot more to CLA than hype.”

Building foundations

The CLA symposium at the ACS national conference at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia was co-sponsored by BASF.

Samy Jandali, VP of nutrition & health, North America, BASF Corporation praised the symposium: "The takeaway message from these worldwide experts is that CLA offers tremendous health benefits for both humans and animals.

“Of special interest is the promise our Tonalin brand shows as more adults learn the importance of reducing body fat, not just losing weight. 

“Beyond that, we have this solid science as a foundation to work with our customers in developing new foods and supplements with CLA to help address some of the most pressing health challenges today."

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