MCTs have increased in popularity due to the health benefits of nutritional ketosis, where net carbohydrates are replaced by protein and good/ healthy fats. This is called a ketogenic diet, some may also call it low carb high fat (LCHF).
These are extremely healthy fats (saturated fatty acids) which are usually derived from non-GMO coconuts and for other brands palm kernel oils. The various benefits of taking MCTs are detailed below, however we will start with the basics for better understanding why now saturated oils are being considered as healthy today. Most research carried out on saturated fats and their health impact has been on Long - Chain Fatty Acids also known as Long Chain Triglycerides.
While saturated fats have been reported to be unhealthy and the general recommendation is that we reduce these types of fat from our diet, they are in actual fact heterogenous in nature and research has shown that they are also heterogenous in their effects. How so?
MCTs are called MCTs due to their chemical structure. Short chain fatty acids have 6 or fewer carbon atoms, medium chain fatty acids (MCFA/ MCTs) have 8–10 carbons, and long chain fatty acids (LCFA) generally have 12 or more carbon chains. The fats usually found in our diet are called Long chain triglycerides (mono & polyunsaturated fats) and these are much more difficult to digest. MCTs are not usually found in most people’s diets, particularly for those located in the west.
Types of MCTs
There are four types of MCTs, divided according to their carbon length as mentioned above.
Caproic Acid (C6) - 6 Carbons
Caprylic Acid (C6) - 8 Carbons
Capric Acid (C6) - 10 Carbons
Lauric Acid (C6) - 12 Carbons
C6 - Caproic Acid
This MCT has 6 carbons and only makes up a very small percentage of MCTs found in our diet. Less carbons mean it is easily converted to ketones. While it has fewer carbons, it can cause digestive problems and has a strong and undesirable smell.
C8 - Caprylic Acid
There is about 8% of C8 present in Coconut oil. This MCT is considered to be the most useful of MCTs as it has strong anti-microbial properties. This MCT is quickly and easily converted to energy in 3 steps.
C10 - Capric Acid
There is about 7% of C8 present in Coconut oil. This MCT also quickly and easily converted to energy without any involvement of the liver. Capric acid has also been shown to have antimicrobial effects, as well as reduction in inflammation in bones.
C12 - Lauric Acid
This MCT is a 12 carbon fatty acid and makes about majority of the fatty acids found in coconut oil - roughly 50%. While C12 - Lauric Acid is an MCT it is metabolised differently from other MCTs. It is metabolised in a similar way to Long chain triglycerides with a some help from the liver. While many people in the past have taken it for its antimicrobial properties, research shows that C8 and C10 are more superior, therefore taking an MCT Oil with a higher % of these is more beneficial.
The Benefits and Uses of MCTs -
This is specifically in reference to our MCT Oil Powder, other brands may have palm kernel oil which is controversial as it may be sourced unethically. Other brands have lower amounts of MCTs and use junk, fillers, gum, additives ingredients etc. It is important to check what you are buying before you purchase. Click here for a guide on how to buy MCT Oil Powder and what to look for.
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Clinical Uses of MCT
Early research shows MCTs are useful in;
What Happens In the Body?
Once inside our bodies MCTs are converted to Ketones - hence ketogenic or keto diet. This means our bodies then use ketones for energy rather than Carbohydrates - in particular, the carbohydrates are nearly absent and replaced by healthy fats (MCTs) and protein. They are nearly absent as there is still a small amount of carbohydrates found in vegetables (we do not include the fiber as this is healthy and beneficial to us, we only take into account net carbohydrates i.e. carbohydrates minus fiber). Research has shown that regular intake of MCTs or Exogenous Ketones is a practical, efficacious way to achieve and remain in ketosis.
When in ketosis our bodies continue to burn fat for energy which is beneficial for weight loss or weight management amongst other benefits.
It takes 3 steps for C8 - Caprylic Acid to convert to energy (ATP) in our cells, however glycolysis - the breakdown of sugar for energy takes 26 steps! You want C8 and C10 in your MCT oil, not C6 and C12.
When you start taking MCTs it is advised to take half the recommended dose until your body can tolerate them.
You can expect gastrointestinal disturbance - flatulence, diarrhea.
When given intravenously, the above and nausea or vomiting.
Pregnancy and Breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of MCTs during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes and Liver Disease: Avoid use without seeing your Physician.
How to Use MCT Oil Powder
Powder or Oil can be used for cold or hot drinks such as tea, coffee, smoothies and juices.
Add to shakes and drinks when you combine with Keto Collagen or Exogenous Ketones for enhanced effects.