FoodHealth

The Marvelous World of MCT Oil. A Secret Elixer

Uncovering the health benefits,dosage and uses of MCT oil.

Many people have long believed coconut oil may solve all their health and cosmetic problems. Among the many purported benefits of this “superfood” is its high concentration of healthy fats, which it uses to hydrate the skin, rein in frizzy hair, change bad cholesterol into good cholesterol, and maybe even help with weight reduction.

The medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, found in coconut oil are primarily responsible for its outstanding track record. So, what are MCTs, and why are they important?

Our article will discuss MCT oil and its distinct features, its metabolism in the body, and the many ways it may improve health and well-being. But first, let’s understand what it is.

What are MCTs?

MCT oil
Image source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/medium-chain-triglyceride

MCTs” is an abbreviation for medium-chain triglycerides. They are also called “MCFAs,” which are medium-chain fatty acids.

To understand it better, it is beneficial to think of lipids in terms of the length of their carbon atom chains. Long chains of carbon atoms make long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which constitute the majority of dietary lipids. In contrast, MCTs possess a chain of moderate length, generally comprising 6 to 12 carbon atoms.

Long chains of carbon atoms make long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which constitute the majority of dietary lipids. In contrast, MCTs possess a chain of moderate length, generally comprising six to twelve carbon atoms.

The middle length of MCTs facilitates their digestion and absorption by the body compared to longer-chain lipids. They are transported directly to the liver, converted into ketones or used as a fast energy source. When glucose is limited, ketones, which are byproducts of lipid metabolism in the liver, can serve as an alternative energy source for the body and brain.

Some of the names that MCTs could appear under on product labels are:

  • Caproic acid 6 carbons (C6) is common in the fragrance industry.
  • Caprylic acid 8 carbons (C8) is a component of coconut and palm kernel oil and is found naturally in the milk of certain mammals.
  • Capric acid 10 carbons (C10) is found naturally in palm, coconut, and certain milk.
  • Lauric acid 12 carbons (C12) is found in coconut and palm kernel oils.

Sources

Certain foods naturally contain MCTs. Such as

  • Coconut oil, which is high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), has more than half of its fat content coming from MCTs. Lauric acid and caprylic acid comprise most of the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut oil.
  • Palm kernel oil and coconut oil both have large levels of medium-chain triglycerides.
  • Dairy products, particularly butter, cheese, and grass-fed cow milk, contain medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), but not as many as coconut or palm kernel oils.

The difference between MCT oil and Coconut oil

Although related, MCT oil and coconut oil have different characteristics and applications. The following is a tabular comparison based on scientific research.

Feature MCT Oil Coconut Oil
Source Primarily produced from natural sources like coconut and palm kernel oils, it may also be artificially produced in labs. Derived from coconut flesh.
Physical State They are liquid at room temperature. Solid at room temperature and melts at about 24°C (76°F).
Main Components They are mostly made up of lipids called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have chains of 6–12 carbon atoms. Contains several fatty acids, particularly a lot of 12-carbon medium-chain triglyceride lauric acid.
 MCT Composition Rich in caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10). More lauric acid (C12) and fewer C8 and C10 MCTs.
Digestion and Absorption Rapidly absorbed and metabolized due to shorter chain length. They bypass the lymphatic system and go directly to the liver. Absorbed more slowly compared to MCT oil. Long-chain fatty acids go through the lymphatic system.
Health Benefits
  • It could aid in reducing weight.
  • Give you a burst of energy.
  • Fight against infections.
  • Relief from medical issues like epilepsy and malabsorption disorders ( in ketogenic diet followers)
  • It may help with cardiovascular health, skin, and hair.
  • Has antibacterial qualities (lauric acid).
  • It also offers long-term energy usage.
Usage Supplemental usage, inclusion in ketogenic diets, and pre-workout energy boosts are common. It is applied in various culinary, personal care, and nutritional contexts.
Caloric Content Similar caloric value to other fats (8–9 calories per gram). 9 calories per gram.
Taste and Aroma Because it usually has no noticeable flavor or smell, it is a good additive to various meals and drinks. It has a distinct coconut flavor and odor, which can alter the taste of food.

Benefits of MCT Oil on Health

There is a justification for MCT Oil’s appeal. This multipurpose oil has many positive effects on health.

1. Aids in Weight Loss

One reason for its meteoric rise to fame is its research-based ability to make you lose weight quickly. It has the potential to aid weight loss in the following ways:

  • Reduced caloric content: The caloric content of MCTs is lower than other types of fats, which makes it the best calories reduction.  According to 2014 research, MCT oil was associated with reduced caloric consumption. Another 2015 study found that it might stimulate some weight reduction. A diet rich in LCTs, a meta-analysis of 13 human trials indicated that dieters following an MCT-rich diet lost an average of 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg) over three weeks or longer.
  • Easily metabolized: MCTs also enhance thermogenesis, a metabolic process that can reduce weight by burning calories to generate heat. Research on humans and animals indicates that incorporating MCTs into diets can decrease fat storage via thermogenesis.

To put it another way, the theory is that they stimulate ketone production, which is like being on the ketogenic diet but without the severe carb restriction. They are also occasionally referred to as “the ultimate ketogenic diet fats” due to their capacity to be swiftly converted to energy and their heating effect in the body, particularly when a person restricts their carbohydrate intake. Because of this, they are an excellent food choice for those following the Paleo diet and the ketogenic diet, both of which aim to put the body into a state of metabolic ketosis.

  • The feeling of fullness: MCTs can boost your satiety, meaning that you may find yourself eating less. They may lessen your appetite and promote feelings of fullness. Research indicates that peptide YY and leptin, hormones that reduce hunger and increase fullness, show a more significant increase in response to metabolic control tests (MCTs) than LCTs.

2. Boosts Energy Levels

Consuming medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) does not require bile acid or enzymes, unlike digesting long-chain triglycerides (LCTS). Thus, MCTs can provide energy more quickly.

In addition, they can be converted into ketones, which can replace glucose as an energy source if they are not immediately utilized. Since ketones are far less reactive in the body than glucose, the continuous increase in energy from MCT oil is not erratic like glucose’s fluctuations are.

3. Great For Brain Health

The health of one’s brain is strongly related to MCT oil, as it has been studied for better brain function. Such as

  • Improves memory: According to some research, even those with memory issues, like Alzheimer’s disease, may find relief by taking MCTs. In 2018, researchers discovered Alzheimer’s patients whose diets included MCTs markedly improved their symptoms. In another study, participants took one or two teaspoons of MCT oil for eleven months daily, with a four-month placebo interval in the middle, and the result showed that both cognitive function and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the elderly improved.
  • Reduces the onset of seizures: Research shows that patients with uncontrolled epilepsy who received MCT oil supplements experienced a 42% reduction in seizures after three months. Other research on MCT oil for epilepsy in humans and animals shows that this oil may help lessen seizures by providing an alternate energy source for the brain.
  • Improves mood: MCT oil can lift your mood in the same way it may improve your brain’s performance.

4. Manages Blood Sugar Level

There is some evidence from earlier research that MCT oil can help people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Few studies have shown that using MCT oil as an alternate energy source may lower the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, as it enhances ketone generation. A small 2007 study monitored 40 diabetics. Those who consumed MCT oil daily exhibited decreased body weight, waist circumference, and insulin resistance compared to those receiving maize oil.

5. Gut Health Improvement

MCTs are also great for gut health, as they reduce the growth of bacteria and yeast in the gut. Research in 2013 found that they have antifungal properties and can be used in a medication plan for individuals experiencing microbiota imbalances.

A single investigation examined the capacity of this oil to inhibit the proliferation of Candida albicans, a prevalent yeast known to induce a range of skin infections and thrust. The findings indicated that the yeast’s proliferation was diminished by 25%.

Another recent 2022 article suggested that adding MCTs to one’s diet can alleviate bloating and other gastrointestinal issues.

6. Improves Athletic Performance

According to 2009 research, eating MCT-rich foods rather than longer-chain lipids increased recreational athletes’ time to tolerate high-intensity exercise.

It is also because lactate, a byproduct of exercise, can reduce blood flow and hinder the breakdown of glucose, our primary energy source. Both of these factors have a detrimental impact on athletic performance. Some studies have shown that ingesting MCTs may help reduce lactate buildup. Therefore, they might be a useful weapon in this fight.

Athletes reported less effort during moderate and high-intensity activity after taking 6 grams (1.5 teaspoons) of medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil) rather than long-chain triglycerides, according to a 2009 research published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminolgy.

7. Great for Heart Health

Cholesterol is a major concern for cardiovascular health, and it appears that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) may assist in lowering cholesterol levels.

Researchers observed 12.5% decrease in total cholesterol in 24 overweight men who used combination of MCT, flaxseedand phytosterols. The results were tested using olive oil instead, which only resulted in 4.7% decrease. Another 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods indicated that MCTs can help prevent metabolic syndrome ( consists of obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and low fasting glucose). 

Because they reduce the likelihood of becoming fat, MCTs help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Their anti-inflammatory, easily digestible, satiating, and quickly used energy properties are probably responsible for this beneficial impact.

Furthermore, studies have shown that MCT oil can boost HDL cholesterol synthesis, the “good” cholesterol that aids in heart protection.

Keep in mind that MCT oil might induce gastrointestinal distress in large dosages. To minimize gastrointestinal side effects, take it exactly as your doctor prescribes.

8. Increased Absorption of Fat-soluble Vitamins

It has been well-studied that the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins depends on consuming oils and fats. Taking MCT oil can greatly enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as E and K2. The two omega-3 fatty acids of EPA and DHA are better absorbed when consumed with MCT oil.

Best Candidates For MCT Oil Consumption

Research on the health advantages of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil has shown that it is especially helpful for specific people:

  1. Individuals on a Ketogenic Diet
  2. Athletes and Bodybuilders
  3. People with Fat Absorption Disorders
  4. Individuals with Neurological Disorders
  5. Those Looking for Weight Management Solutions
  6. Individuals with Diabetes
  7. People Seeking Heart Health Benefits

Who should not take MCT oils? 

It might not be a suitable choice for certain populations, such as

  • Due to a lack of sufficient safety data, MCT oil should not be used by pregnant or nursing mothers
  • Taking MCT oil may raise the quantity of triglycerides in your blood. As a result, individuals with excessive triglycerides (a form of fat in the blood) or heart disease should avoid using MCT oil.
  • People with liver issues, including cirrhosis, should stay clear of MCTs since the liver metabolizes them.

Types of MCT Oil Supplements

MCT oil powder: A recent intervention in the market is MCT oil powder. It is made by spray drying and contains 50–80% MCT oil, with a balance of carbohydrates and milk proteins or fibres in some cases.

The oil is turned into a powder that is easy to use, portable, and handy. Many people prefer it over the oil version because it is easier to include in recipes or because it is easier for them to digest.

MCT oil capsules: MCT oil capsules are created by refining coconut or palm kernel oil and encapsulating it in gelatin-based or vegetarian capsule shells.

The table below shows the difference between MCT capsules along with MCT oil and MCT oil powder, comparing their features:

FEATURE MCT OIL MCT OIL POWDER MCT CAPSULES
Texture and Form Liquid at room temperature Fine powder Capsule form
Convenience Less convenient for travel and mixing More convenient for travel, easy to mix with foods and beverages Convenient for travel, no mixing required
Digestibility It can be too much for the stomach for some individuals Generally easier to digest, better for sensitive stomachs Easier to digest
Potency More concentrated (pure form) Less potent due to fillers or carriers Potency can vary, often less concentrated than oil but more than powder due to the encapsulation process.

What should you choose: MCT powder, capsule, or oil?

Whether one opts for MCT oil, capsule, or powder is a matter of personal choice and necessity. Using MCT oil powder might be the best option if you value ease of digestion and convenience. But if you want something stronger and aren’t concerned about the oil’s texture, MCT oil could be a better option. And if you’re constantly on the move, choosing MCT capsules will provide you with the most convenience and mobility.

Incorporating MCT into Your Diethealthy hearty salad tuna green beans tomatoes eggs potatoes black olives close up bowl table

Now that you know its benefits, you may wonder how to use MCT oil. Integrating MCT oil into your daily routine is remarkably easy and versatile. It has no discernible taste or aroma, and its viscosity is similar to that of other oils.

  • You may use it as a dressing, in soups or broths, or even as a simple drizzle on veggies.
  • One can stir a small number of MCTs in beverages or add them to salads or baked goods.
  • Another popular way to consume MCT oil is to put it into one’s daily coffee, bulletproof coffee. MCT oil can provide more energy to the caffeine and give it a richer, creamier consistency.
  • Also, cooking below the smoking point (320°) of MCT oil is recommended. By this point, the oil’s properties change, and it may not be as effective, so it is not recommended for cooking due to its low smoke point.

If you are fond of cooking but never get the best results, our detailed guide will help you uncover the best cooking methods and temperatures to achieve culinary perfection.

If you’ve never taken MCT oil before, it’s best to start with a small dose and gradually work your way up so your digestive system can adjust to absorbing a greater fat load.

Preferred Dosage of MCT Oil process pouring edible oil into spoon

The recommended dosage of MCT oil is not defined. The FDA has not authorized its use, and there have been insufficient human trials on the substance. Most studies have utilized 1–5 tablespoons (15–74 mL) daily.

Different types of studies have used different doses. For example, research on the effects of the oil on cognitive performance has utilized intervention dosages ranging from 20 g/d to 60 g/d and more. In another research, the impact of MCT oil on anorexia nervosa was found to be 6 g/d, which was enough to raise ghrelin levels.

To use MCT oil for its weight reduction and ketogenic effects, begin with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) daily and gradually increase to 4–7 tablespoons (60–100 ml) as tolerated.

When first experimenting with MCT oil, go slow. Gradually increase the amount you take daily from 1 teaspoon to 2 or 3 teaspoons. For MCT oils, one should begin with half a scoop of MCT oil powder if you’ve never used it. One scoop usually contains 10 grams, but you should always double-check the brand’s instructions.

Side Effects of MCT Oil

Without a doubt, the advantages of MCT oil surpass every drawback. Having said that, some people experience a few negative effects after consuming MCT oil.

Some people report stomach discomfort or gastrointestinal issues when initially using MCT oil. The best is to start with a low dose and gradually increase it, such as gradually increasing from half a teaspoon to a teaspoon or tablespoon.

Studying natural health led to the discovery of MCT oil. This is an interesting discovery at a time when science and nature are working together to reveal the best health secrets. An interesting oil with a number of possible health advantages is more than simply the latest health craze.

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Dr Aimen

Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.
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