Knowledge: Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oil

Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oil

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) refer to fats that are made up of 6-12 carbon atoms. Since MCTs are much shorter in length, they resemble carbohydrates more than fats, and therefore they are more easily absorbed, digested, and utilized as energy than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). MCTs are found naturally in dairy products, palm oil, and coconut oil. MCT oil is obtained through fractionation where it is separated from other components of coconut oil. MCT oil was first introduced in the mid-1900s to reduce seizures, following a ketogenic diet. Also, it was used as an alternative food source for patients who are very ill to properly digest normal fats. But today, people use MCT oil for many other health reasons such as weight loss, energy booster, combating Alzheimer’s, etc.

MCT oil has been reported to increase the release of peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that promote fullness. A study by Kinsella et al has found that people consuming two tablespoons of MCT oil as part of their breakfast ended up eating less food for lunch as compared to those taking coconut oil. This effect was also explained by the lower rise in triglycerides and glucose with MCT oil. Some studies prove that MCT oil can help to reduce body weight and waist circumference, and hence preventing obesity. In a carbohydrate-deficit condition, MCTs can be converted into ketones. This phenomenon happens especially following a ketogenic diet, enabling the body to remain in the fat-burning state known as ketosis. On top of that, MCT oil optimizes the growth of gut flora which can support weight loss.

Apart from the weight loss benefit, MCT oil intake can eventually help to reduce the risk of heart disease. A study found that overweight men consuming MCT oil combined with phytosterols and flaxseed oil for 29 days had a reduction in total cholesterol by 12.5% as compared to those taking olive oil who experienced a reduction of only 4.7%. Also, the same study reported better reductions in LDL cholesterol and increase in HDL cholesterol level when MCT oil was added to diet. These results significantly reduce C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker that increases the risk of heart disease.

In the 1980s, MCTs were popular as a substitute for dietary fats or oils to provide energy source for many athletes and this practice still continues up to now. Since MCTs easily enter the cells without being broken down, they can be used as an immediate energy source. In addition, MCTs may help to reduce lactate buildup which can boost exercise performance. A study done by Nosaka et al reported that atheletes who took 6 grams or about 1.5 teaspoons of MCT oil with food before cycling experienced lower lactate levels and found it easier to exercise than those taking LCTs.

Undeniably, studies have shown that MCT oil can improve brain and memory functions and help manage conditions like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism. Researchers found that fasting promotes ketone production and hence reducing the frequency of epileptic seizures. Since MCTs can be converted into ketones, they may be at an advantage in managing epilepsy. Meanwhile, the fact that Alzheimer’s disease impairs the brain’s ability to utilize sugar, evidence suggests that 20-70 grams of supplemental MCTs that contain caprylic or capric acid can modestly enhance the symptoms of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s. Besides that, adding MCT oil to a ketogenic and gluten-free diet substantially improves autism behaviors.

Surprisingly, many in-vitro studies have proved that MCT oil possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties due to its active compounds, namely caprylic, capric, and lauric acid. MCT oil has been shown to reduce the growth of Candida albicans, a common yeast that causes thrush or skin infection, by 25%. Another study reported that MCT oil consumption could help to suppress the growth of widespread infectious fungus in hospitals by up to 50%.

MCT oil is growing quickly in popularity as a dietary supplement, and many manufacturers and in fact consumers are using it as a food additive for health foods and beverages. Its ability to boost energy and performance makes it a popular additive ingredient for energy bars, drinks, and powdered protein shakes. Because MCT oil is colorless and tasteless, it can be consumed directly or incorporated into homemade recipes such as smoothies, coffee, salad dressings, sauces, and homemade energy bars. Furthermore, MCT oil has gained popularity in cosmetic and personal care sectors. Due to its emollient, conditioning, hydrating, revitalizing, protective, anti-aging, anti-acne properties, MCT oil can be incorporated in lotions, moisturizers, creams, and lip balms. Meanwhile in aromatherapy and massage applications, MCT oil can be used as an essential oil or massage oil.

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HEALTH BENEFITS

Antiseizure

In vivo study
Subject
Duration
Dosage
Group
Parameters analyzed
Outcomes Visible benefits
Functions

Improve Exercise Performance

In vivo study on effect of MCT on metabolism
Subject Mice (n=30)
Duration 21 days
Dosage 11.6g/kg
Group
  1. Control
  2. Chow diet
  3. MCT diet
Parameters analyzed
  • Exercise performance
  • Metabolic gene expression
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • MCT containing diet improves high temperature induced exercise performance impairment.
  • MCT up-regulates the expression and protein levels of genes involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism through the activation of Akt and AMPK signaling pathways and inhibition of TGF-β signaling pathway.
Functions Dietary MCT could improve exercise performance through the increase of mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism.

Boost Energy

In vivo study on effect of MCT on growth and health
Subject Young piglet
Duration 14 days post weaning
Dosage 15% MCT oil
Group
  1. Control
  2. Treatment
Parameters analyzed
  • Mortality rate
  • Growth rate
Outcomes Visible benefits

Feeding with MCT resulted in lower mortality and better development.

Functions MCT brings benefit for the improvement of energy supply and performance by stabilizing the intestinal microbiota.

May against high fat diet-induced insulin resistance and inflammation

In vivo study on effect of MCT on obesity
Subject Adult mice (n=24)
Duration 12 weeks
Dosage 17% MCT oil
Group
  1. Normal diet
  2. High fat diet (HF)
  3. High fat diet (HF) + MCT
Parameters analyzed
  • Blood glucose level and insulin sensitivity
  • Inflammatory response
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • Consumption of MCT did not induce body weight gain and white adipose tissue accumulation in high fat diet mice.
  • MCT prevents the increase in serum fasting glucose and insulin levels as well as glucose intolerance.
  • HF-MCT resulted in significantly lower serum IL-6 level and higher IL-10 level, and lower expression levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 protein in liver tissues when compared to HFC.
  • HF-MCT attenuated HFC-triggered hepatic activation of NF-κB and p38 MAPK.
Functions MCT could be beneficial against high fat diet-induced insulin resistance and inflammation.

Reference

  1. O’Brien S. (2020, November 11). 7 Science-based benefits of MCT oil. Healthline. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mct-oil-benefits
  2. Kinsella R., Maher T., Clegg M. E. (2017, October 1). Coconut oil has less satiating properties than medium chain triglyceride oil. ScienceDirect. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938417302111
  3. Nosaka N., Suzuki Y., Nagatoishi A., Kasai M., Wu J., Taguchi M., 2009 April. Effect of ingestion of medium-chain triacylglycerols on moderate- and high-intensity exercise in recreational athletes. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo), 55(2):120-5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19436137/
  4. St-Onge M. P., Lamarche B., Mauger J. F., Jones P. J. H. 2003 June. Consumption of a functional oil rich in phytosterols and medium-chain triglyceride oil improves plasma lipid profiles in men. J Nutr, 133(6):1815-20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12771322/
  5. Nazario B. (2020, August 25). MCT oil. WebMD. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/mct-oil-health-benefits-common-uses#:~:text=MCT%20can%20help%20your%20body,by%20adding%20some%20MCT%20oil.
  6. Wilson D. R. (2017, December 6). What are the possible benefits of MCT oil?. Medical News Today. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320251
  7. https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1136/vr.105410
  8. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0191182
  9. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/animal-health-research-reviews/article/abs/nutritional-and-physiological-role-of-mediumchain-triglycerides-and-mediumchain-fatty-acids-in-piglets/0022D08B9613B5EF09F928FBBF9A2303
  10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-015-0907-0
MCT oil powder

Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oil Powder

  • Help in weight loss
  • Increase energy
  • Reduce lactate buildup
  • Antimicrobial and Antifungal
  • Healthy for heart
  • Control blood sugar level
  • Vegan
  • Non-GMO
  • Alcohol-Free
  • Sugar Free
  • No Artificial Colors
  • Soy and Gluten-Free