What is MCT Oil?
MCT oil is derived from coconut and palm oil; its moniker stands for “medium-chain triglycerides,” which are naturally occurring fatty acids. They’re easily digested, rapidly used as energy, and metabolized quickly in the liver without being stored as fat.
Medium-chain triglycerides are triglycerides whose fatty acids have an aliphatic tail of 6–12 carbon atoms. The fatty acids found in MCTs are called medium-chain fatty acids. Like all triglycerides, MCTs are composed of a glycerol backbone and three fatty acids. In the case of MCTs, 2 or 3 of the fatty acid chains attached to glycerol are of medium length.
The Benefits of MCT Oil
The unique structure of medium-chain fatty acids make them beneficial in several ways:
– Easier to Digest
– MCTs do not need bile salts to be digested and can pass directly from the digestive system to the blood stream without being modified by digestion like long chain fats. This makes them easier to digest and utilize than long chain fatty acids.
– Because they are so easy to absorb and use, MCTs are often a good choice for those who struggle with digestive problems, fat absorption or lack a gallbladder.
Good Source of Energy
Since MCTs are processed in the liver, they are absorbed quickly and provide fast and sustained energy. MCTs move passively via the hepatic portal system to the liver without the need for a longer digestive process. Unlike almost all other foods, MCTs do not require energy to be absorbed, stored or used in the body, making them an almost perfect source of natural energy.
Since fats are needed for proper hormone creation and balance in the body, MCTs may offer special benefits for those struggling with hormone imbalance. There is also research suggesting that medium chain fats may be beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight by helping balance hormones and improving insulin sensitivity.
MCTs have antiviral and antibacterial properties and there is some evidence that they may help balance gut bacteria and combat pathogenic bacteria. They also offer the digestive system a break because they are so easily utilized by the body. When used with a healthy diet and other ways to support gut bacteria, MCTs may help improve gut health over time. (Though regular coconut oil may be more effective for this, see below).
The same antiviral and antibacterial properties make MCTs beneficial for immune as well. Healthy fats are important for proper immune function, and since MCTs can be more easily used by the body, this may be especially beneficial for those who have trouble absorbing fats and who struggle with immune function.
MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil
This is where things get really interesting. MCT oil is extracted from Coconut oil and Palm oil, which are considered great natural sources of Medium Chain Triglycerides.
With the emerging popularity of MCT oil, many coconut oil manufacturers boast that coconut oil is naturally high in MCTs (which it is), but there are some important caveats! MCT oil manufacturers like to brag that their products are “more concentrated” than coconut oil (which is also true), but it also doesn’t contain one beneficial form of MCT.