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Health Benefits of MCT Oil and How to Consume It

MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil is a type of saturated fat that has several potential health benefits. I personally have consumed 1Tbsp of MCT oil virtually every day of my 140lb weight loss journey over the last 6 years.

In case you’re wondering, Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) are two types of fatty acids that differ in their chemical make-up (the number of carbons on the fatty acid chain) and how they are metabolized in the body.

MCTs have a shorter chain length than LCTs, typically between 6 and 12 carbons. Because of their shorter chain length, MCTs are more easily and quickly absorbed by the body and transported to the liver, where they can be quickly metabolized for energy.

Long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) typically contain between 12 and 18 carbon atoms in each fatty acid chain. LCTs are absorbed more slowly and transported through the lymphatic system to the liver, where they are metabolized for energy.  LCTs are the most common form of dietary fat and are found in foods like meat, dairy, and vegetable oils. Because of their longer fatty acid chains, LCTs are more likely to be stored as body fat if you consume more than you need.

To summarize, MCTs are a type of fat that are metabolized more quickly and efficiently than LCTs due to their shorter chain length. This difference in metabolism has led to various health benefits for MCTs, including weight loss, improved cognitive function, and increased energy.

Here are some of the health benefits of MCT oil:

  • Weight loss: MCT oil has been shown to increase feelings of fullness and reduce calorie intake, which may lead to weight loss over time. One study found that consuming MCT oil as part of a weight loss program resulted in greater reductions in body weight and waist circumference compared to a control group.
  • Can boost energy levels: MCT oil is quickly absorbed and metabolized by the liver, where it is converted into ketones, a type of energy molecule. This can lead to increased energy levels and improved exercise performance.
  • May improve brain function: Ketones produced by MCT oil may also provide a source of energy for the brain and improve cognitive function. One study found that MCT oil improved memory and learning in individuals with mild cognitive impairment.
  • Can improve heart health: While MCT oil is a type of saturated fat, some studies have suggested that it may actually have a positive effect on heart health. One review of studies found that MCT oil consumption resulted in reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
  • May have antimicrobial properties: MCT oil has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, which may help to support gut health. One study found that MCT oil reduced the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut, while another study found that it improved symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

How To Reap the Health Benefits of MCT Oil

Coconut oil is one of the best sources of MCTs, and it is easily available. It contains around 55-65% MCTs.  For a more concentrated source of MCTs, there is fractionated coconut oil.

Fractionated coconut oil is a type of coconut oil that has been processed to remove the long-chain triglycerides, leaving behind the medium-chain triglycerides. This resulting MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of MCTs, primarily containing C8 and C10 (carbons) fatty acids.

MCT oil derived from fractionated coconut oil is commonly used as a dietary supplement, and it can be added to smoothies, salad dressings, and other foods for an easy way to increase MCT intake.

I add MCT oil to my morning smoothie or use coconut oil on my veggies and salads as a dressing.

Resources

1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25074387/
2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18326600/
3 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09637481003702114
4 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24421566_Effect_of_Ingestion_of_Medium-Chain_Triacylglycerols_on_Moderate-_and_High-Intensity_Exercise_in_Recreational_Athletes
5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2731764/
6 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271648869_Effects_of_Medium-Chain_Triglycerides_on_Weight_Loss_and_Body_Composition_A_Meta-Analysis_of_Randomized_Controlled_Trials
7 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S104366180900276X
8 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30487770/
9 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7005631/
10 https://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/full/v16/i24/2978.htm

Dr. Kalaba is a chiropractor in Tucson, AZ, practicing gentle chiropractic care and providing health tips to help you live the best rest of your life.

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