MCT oil, also known by various other names including 1,2,3-Propanetriol Trioctanoate, Caprylic Acid, and Lauric Acid, has gained significant attention in recent years. This increase in popularity can be attributed to its purported health benefits, which span from enhanced cognitive function to weight management. Derived mainly from coconut oil and palm oil, MCT oil contains medium-chain triglycerides that are categorized into four types based on their carbon chain length: C6 (Caproic acid), C8 (Caprylic acid), C10 (Capric acid), and C12 (Lauric acid).
The objective of this article is to explore in detail the science behind MCT oil, providing a detailed comparative analysis of the different types of MCTs — C6, C8, C10, and C12 — focusing on aspects such as their absorption, metabolism, and health benefits. Supported by findings from various studies and expert opinions, we aim to offer a comprehensive overview that discusses both the benefits and side effects associated with each type. By the end of this article, readers will have a comprehensive understanding of MCT oil, aiding them in making informed decisions regarding its usage.
Understanding MCT Oil
Definition and Origin
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a type of fat found in certain oils and dairy products. MCT oil is a supplement rich in these triglycerides, derived from fats such as coconut oil and palm oil. The oil is known for its rapid absorption and digestion, which is due to the shorter chain length of the fatty acids it contains. This characteristic has been the subject of significant research and interest in the health and wellness communities.
The science behind MCT oil lies in its structure. The oil contains medium-length chains of fats called triglycerides, which are shorter than the long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) found in most other foods, such as olive oil and butter. This unique structure allows for a more rapid absorption and utilization of energy.
Understanding C6, C8, C10, and C12
MCTs are categorized into four types based on their carbon chain length: C6 (Caproic acid), C8 (Caprylic acid), C10 (Capric acid), and C12 (Lauric acid). The following provides a detailed explanation of each type:
- C6 (Caproic acid): The shortest form of MCT, it is rapidly absorbed but has a somewhat unpleasant taste and is often removed from MCT oil productsBulletproof. (n.d.). What Is MCT Oil? The Ultimate Guide to MCT Oil Supplements. Retrieved from https://www.bulletproof.com/supplements/dietary-supplements/what-is-mct-oil/.
- C8 (Caprylic acid): This type is known for its ketogenic properties, promoting the production of ketones that can be used as a quick energy sourceVandenberghe, C., St-Pierre, V., Courchesne-Loyer, A., Hennebelle, M., Castellano, C. A., & Cunnane, S. C. (2017). Tricaprylin Alone Increases Plasma Ketone Response More Than Coconut Oil or Other Medium-Chain Triglycerides: An Acute Crossover Study in Healthy Adults. Current Developments in Nutrition, 1(4), e000257..
- C10 (Capric acid): Slightly longer than C8, it shares many of its benefits, such as its ketogenic properties, but is absorbed a bit more slowlySonnay, S., Chakrabarti, A., Thevenet, J., Wiederkehr, A., Christinat, N., & Masoodi, M. (2019). Differential Metabolism of Medium-Chain Fatty Acids in Differentiated Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Astrocytes. Frontiers in Physiology, 10, 657..
- C12 (Lauric acid): The longest-chain MCT, it behaves more like a long-chain fatty acid and is known for its antimicrobial propertiesWebMD. (n.d.). Fractionated Oil and Regular Coconut Oil: The Difference. Retrieved from WebMD.
Each type of MCT has its own set of benefits and characteristics, and they are often found together in natural sources. However, MCT oil products can be formulated to contain different ratios of these MCTs to target specific benefits.
The Benefits of MCT Oil
Energy and Metabolism
MCT oil is renowned for its ability to be quickly absorbed by the digestive system and converted into energy in the liverCleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Potential Health Benefits of MCT Oil. Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic. Each type of MCT offers unique benefits in this regard:
- C6 and C8: Known to promote the production of ketones, which are a quick source of energy for the brain and muscles.
- C10: While it shares ketogenic properties with C6 and C8, it is absorbed slightly more slowly, offering a sustained energy release.
- C12: Though behaving more like a long-chain fatty acid, it still contributes to energy production but to a lesser extent compared to shorter-chain MCTs.
Research and expert opinions suggest that MCT oil can enhance metabolic rate and energy production, making it a popular choice among athletes and fitness enthusiasts because it can help to improve endurance and performance.
Weight Loss and Appetite Control
MCT oil has been associated with weight loss and appetite control due to its potential to increase satiety and help in the management of body weightHealthline. (n.d.). 7 Science-Based Benefits of MCT Oil. Retrieved from Healthline. Here is how different MCTs contribute:
- C8 and C10: These MCTs are known to help in reducing appetite, thereby aiding in weight loss.
- C12: It has a more moderate effect on weight management compared to C8 and C10.
Scientific studies have shown a correlation between MCT oil consumption and reduced body weight, although more research is needed to substantiate these claims fully.
MCT oil has also been linked to cognitive benefits, such as improved memory and focusHealthline. (n.d.). 7 Science-Based Benefits of MCT Oil. Retrieved from Healthline. The different MCTs play roles as follows:
- C8: Particularly noted for its potential to enhance cognitive function through the production of ketones, which serve as a fuel for the brain.
- C10 and C12: These types have also shown potential in supporting brain health, albeit to a lesser extent compared to C8.
Experts and studies highlight the potential of MCT oil in supporting cognitive health, but it is essential to note that research in this area is still evolving, and more studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions.
The Side Effects of MCT Oil
While MCT oil offers numerous benefits, it can also lead to digestive issues, especially when consumed in more than 4 tablespoons per dayForbes Health. (n.d.). MCT Oil: Health Benefits And Side Effects. Retrieved from Forbes Health. The different types of MCTs can have varying effects on the digestive system:
- C6 and C8: These shorter-chain MCTs are absorbed quickly but can cause gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea and stomach cramps, particularly in individuals who are not accustomed to consuming them.
- C10 and C12: These longer chain MCTs are absorbed more slowly and can be less irritating to the digestive system, but still pose a risk of digestive issues, especially in large quantities.
It is essential to note that individual responses to MCT oil can vary, and not everyone will experience these side effects.
Impact on Cholesterol and Heart Health
MCT oil has a complex relationship with cholesterol levels and heart health, with some studies suggesting that MCT oil can lower LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL cholesterol levelsMumme, K., & Stonehouse, W. (2015). Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(2), 249-263. Retrieved from PubMed, while other studies have shown more neutral or even negative effects. Here is how different MCTs can impact these aspects:
- C8 and C10: These MCTs have been associated with a reduction in bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and an increase in good cholesterol (HDL) levels, potentially promoting heart health.
- C12: This MCT has a more neutral effect on cholesterol levels, with some studies suggesting it might increase LDL levels.
Research indicates that while MCT oil can offer benefits for heart health, it should be consumed in moderation to avoid potential adverse effects. Moreover, individuals with existing heart conditions should consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating MCT oil into their diet, as it may interact with certain medications or worsen certain heart conditions.
Usage and Dosage
Determining the appropriate dosage of MCT oil is crucial to reap its benefits while avoiding potential side effects, such as digestive discomfort, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Here is a general guideline based on expert advice:
- Starting Dose: For individuals new to MCT oil, it is recommended to start with a small dose of around 1 teaspoon per day and increase by 1 teaspoon every few days until reaching a maximum of 4 tablespoons per dayForbes Health. (n.d.). MCT Oil: Health Benefits And Side Effects. Retrieved from Forbes Health.
- Maintenance Dose: For regular users, a maintenance dose of 1 to 2 tablespoons per day is often recommended to sustain the benefits of MCT oil.
It is important to note that the optimal dosage can vary based on individual health goals and tolerance levels.
Incorporating MCT Oil into Your Diet
Incorporating MCT oil into your diet can be done in various ways, offering versatility in its usage. Here are some popular methods:
- In Beverages: Adding MCT oil to beverages such as coffee, tea, or smoothies is a popular way to include it in your diet.
- In Meals: Incorporate MCT oil into your meals by adding it to yogurt, oatmeal, or salad dressings.
- In Cooking: Utilize MCT oil in cooking to make pancakes, waffles, muffins, and other baked goods, although it is best suited for low to medium-heat cooking to preserve its properties.
- As a Supplement: MCT oil is available in supplement form, such as capsules, which can be a convenient option for many individuals.
Experts recommend starting with a small amount and gradually increasing the dosage to avoid digestive issues. Moreover, it is advised to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate dosage based on individual health conditions and goals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
In this section, we address some of the most commonly asked questions about MCT oil, providing detailed answers based on scientific evidence and expert opinions.
How long do MCT oil effects last?
MCT oil is known for its rapid absorption and utilization in the body, providing a quick source of energy. The duration of its effects can vary depending on individual metabolic rates and the amount consumed.
Why do I feel sick after taking MCT oil?
Feeling sick after taking MCT oil can be a result of consuming too much too quickly, especially when you are not used to it. It is recommended to start with a smaller dose and gradually increase it to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.
What are the symptoms of too much MCT oil?
Consuming too much MCT oil can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, and gastrointestinal discomfort. It is advisable to adhere to the recommended dosage to avoid these adverse effects.
How long does it take to adjust to MCT oil?
The adjustment period to MCT oil can vary from person to person. Generally, it is recommended to start with a small dose and gradually increase it over weeks to allow your body to adjust.
What does MCT oil do to your digestive system?
MCT oil can have both beneficial and adverse effects on the digestive system. While it can aid in digestion and support gut health, excessive consumption can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Who should not use MCT oil?
Individuals with liver issues or those who are prone to developing kidney stones should avoid using MCT oil. It is always best to consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating MCT oil into your diet, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.
Does MCT oil help with bowel movements?
MCT oil can aid in bowel movements by facilitating digestion. However, excessive consumption can lead to loose stools and other digestive issues.
Does MCT oil help gut bacteria?
MCT oil has been found to have a beneficial effect on gut bacteria, promoting the growth of good bacteria and supporting overall gut health.
Is MCT inflammatory?
MCT oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflammation in the body.
Can you take MCT oil and probiotics together?
Taking MCT oil and probiotics together can be beneficial as MCT oil can support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which is promoted by probiotics.
What are the pros and cons of MCT oil?
MCT oil offers several benefits, including enhanced energy levels and cognitive function. However, it can also have side effects such as digestive discomfort, particularly when consumed in large quantities.
What are the disadvantages of MCT?
Some of the disadvantages of MCT include the potential for digestive issues, its high-calorie content, and the possibility of adverse effects on cholesterol levels in some individuals.
Can you overdo MCT oil?
Yes, consuming MCT oil in excessive quantities can lead to adverse effects, including digestive issues and potential impacts on heart health.
Is MCT oil hard on kidneys?
While moderate consumption of MCT oil is generally considered safe, excessive intake can put a strain on the kidneys, especially in individuals with pre-existing kidney conditions.
Are there limitations in the current research on MCT oil?
Yes, while there has been substantial research on MCT oil, it is important to note that there are limitations in the existing studies. Many research studies have been conducted over short periods, and there is a lack of long-term studies to confirm the safety and efficacy of MCT oil over extended periods. Moreover, finding the optimal dosage for different health goals and diverse populations remains a significant area where more research is needed. It is encouraged to approach the existing findings with a critical mind and look forward to more comprehensive research in the future.
In recent years, MCT oil has garnered substantial attention in the health and wellness communities, emerging as a popular supplement with a range of potential benefits supported by scientific evidence. Derived from natural sources such as coconut and palm oils, MCTs are categorized into four types based on their carbon chain length: C6, C8, C10, and C12, each offering distinct benefits and characteristics.
Research has shown that MCT oil can increase ketone levels, which in turn may enhance cognitive function and boost energy metabolism. Moreover, it has been associated with aiding in weight management, potentially offering benefits in terms of appetite control and fat loss.
However, it is essential to approach the use of MCT oil with caution, as it can lead to adverse effects, including digestive discomfort and impacts on cholesterol levels in some individuals. It is advisable to adhere to recommended dosages and consult with healthcare providers, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions.
In examining the details surrounding MCT oil, it is evident that while it offers a range of benefits, it has associated risks. Hence, it is paramount to use MCT oil safely and responsibly, being cognizant of both its potential benefits and side effects.
Buy MCT Oil Online Review Comparison Table
|Bulletproof. (n.d.). What Is MCT Oil? The Ultimate Guide to MCT Oil Supplements. Retrieved from https://www.bulletproof.com/supplements/dietary-supplements/what-is-mct-oil/
|Vandenberghe, C., St-Pierre, V., Courchesne-Loyer, A., Hennebelle, M., Castellano, C. A., & Cunnane, S. C. (2017). Tricaprylin Alone Increases Plasma Ketone Response More Than Coconut Oil or Other Medium-Chain Triglycerides: An Acute Crossover Study in Healthy Adults. Current Developments in Nutrition, 1(4), e000257.
|Sonnay, S., Chakrabarti, A., Thevenet, J., Wiederkehr, A., Christinat, N., & Masoodi, M. (2019). Differential Metabolism of Medium-Chain Fatty Acids in Differentiated Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Astrocytes. Frontiers in Physiology, 10, 657.
|WebMD. (n.d.). Fractionated Oil and Regular Coconut Oil: The Difference. Retrieved from WebMD
|Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Potential Health Benefits of MCT Oil. Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic
|Healthline. (n.d.). 7 Science-Based Benefits of MCT Oil. Retrieved from Healthline
|Forbes Health. (n.d.). MCT Oil: Health Benefits And Side Effects. Retrieved from Forbes Health
|Mumme, K., & Stonehouse, W. (2015). Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(2), 249-263. Retrieved from PubMed