The Benefits of MCT Oil
Everyone has heard, read and talked about the hype of coconut oil or has already incorporated it into their diet or health regime because of its health benefits. However, there has been an emergence of health advocates claiming the benefits of MCT are greater than that of coconut oil. In this article we will discuss the benefits of MCT oil and how to effortlessly incorporate these healthy fats into your life.
Bottom line: “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCT) can offer the same benefits as coconut oil in a more concentrated form. But first, let’s look at the basic building blocks of how MCT oil can help you.
Healthy fats are needed to regulate our bodies’ cells each and every day. When we eat, our bodies digest–break down–the fats from our food into what are called “fatty acids”. Fatty acids are the foundation of our cell membranes and provide energy for various functions in our bodies we take for granted. Fatty acids are categorized by how many carbon molecules are present in its cellular structure. MCTs are fatty acids that have anywhere from 6 to 12 carbon atoms.
There are four common types of MCTs:
- Caproic acid (C6): Contains 6 carbon atoms
- Caprylic acid (C8): Contains 8 carbon atoms
- Capric acid (C10): Contains 10 carbon atoms
- Lauric acid (C12): Contains 12 carbon atoms
How to get the MCT Oil benefits from foods
You probably eat foods that already have MCTs in them without even knowing MCT oil’s benefits. However, depending upon your nutritional plan of choice, you may not get enough MCT oil to feel its benefits. Here is a list of common foods that can provide you with MCT oil benefits:
- Coconut oil
- Red palm oil
- Grass fed butter
- Grass fed whole milk
- Grass fed yogurt
Certain types of fat don’t make us fat; healthy fats actually help us burn fat for energy. The word “fat” has been the victim of some bad health advice for over two generations. Even now our own government has admitted that eating healthy fats doesn’t raise a person’s cholesterol. The healthy fats our bodies desperately need to function are starting to get a better reputation as we understand how they work and their amazing benefits. Healthy fats have been removed more and more from the American diet and they need to be returned.
But how can you get the benefits of MCT oil without eating so much butter or whole milk that you get a stomachache? What if you want to experience the health benefits of MCT oil but don’t want to eat multiple tablespoons of coconut oil a day? The simple answer is look to the benefits of an MCT oil supplement.
What is MCT Oil
MCT oil is a more concentrated supplement of those fatty acids typically featuring more prevalent amounts of caprylic and capric acids than caproic and lauric acids. It is a healthy fat.
The Benefits of MCT Oil
Bodybuilders swear by MCT oil benefits and runners see improved energy levels from it…but what are the MCT oil benefits for you? The benefits of MCT oil may manifest in various notable improvements: it can boost brain function, help digestion, increase immunity and accelerate metabolism and weight loss.
The brain can work 25% better on ketones. When these fats are absorbed by our mitochondria – the power plants of the cell – they are absorbed and they produce less free radicals than a molecule of a carbohydrate or protein!! Ketones can improve mental clarity and reduce brain fog. This is an area where MCT oil benefits will shine. In a recent study, it was found that increased levels of C8 and C10 MCTs may show improvements in cognitive recall. (1)
The benefits of MCTs can also help those who have experienced difficulty with memory or who have early onset Alzheimer’s disease.(2) Once MCTs are broken down by the liver and converted into ketone bodies, the ketone bodies cross the blood-brain barrier to act as an alternate energy source to fuel neurons. Data has shown that this may improve overall cognitive function.
A key benefit of MCT oil is how easily it is digested as it takes the body less work to break down the carbon bonds within its chemical structure. MCT supplements are perfect for people with digestive issues like a leaky gut, Crohn’s disease or people who have had their gallbladder removed. A big benefit of MCT oil is it allows people with no gallbladder the advantage of still eating fat. Because MCTs enter the stomach and small intestine very quickly, they do not need bile or pancreatic enzymes for digestion.
MCTs have great anti-viral/bacterial/fungal benefits that can help protect your body from viruses, germs and disease. Lauric acid has the most powerful effect on immunity (it naturally occurs in a mother’s breast milk in order to protect her growing infant from potentially harmful diseases). Once in the body, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which stops bacteria from multiplying, making it easier for your immune system to battle the bacteria.
MCTs can also minimize candida and yeast throughout the gut. These fatty acids can combat against yeast growth that is triggered by sugar and simple carbohydrate foods. This could be a life saver for someone dealing with yeast or candida overgrowth.
Because MCTs have shorter structure chains, they can be absorbed quickly into the body and metabolized faster than long chain triglycerides. Instead of being stored as fat for later use, MCT oil benefits of note are the more efficient use by the body for fuel, increased metabolism and increased energy. MCTs are processed in the small intestine but, unlike other fats, they are absorbed immediately. They do not require transport by the liver, bile breakdown or other enzymes for use. This benefit of MCT oil can provide the body immediate fuel for more intense physical exertion – or helping you burn more fat for energy while exercising.
Because MCTs are not stored as fat, there is a potential to help weight loss when included in a nutritional plan. Usually the main source of energy for the body is carbohydrates. When there are no carbohydrates for the body to use as energy, the body then takes stored fat and converts it into ketones, an alternative source of energy. A benefit of MCTs for weight loss is that they are essentially converting directly into ketones and tricking the body into thinking that it needs to use the already stored fat for energy instead of the carbohydrates.
MCTs can also increase thermogenesis within the body(3), and subsequently, burn more calories to decrease overall body fat.
The Benefits of MCT Oil vs. The Benefits of Coconut Oil
Both are great for their overall health benefits in their own ways. However, Coconut oil is 62% of all four MCTs, with almost half of that being just lauric acid. Lauric acid does not convert as efficiently into ketones. When lauric acid is in the body, it acts more like a long chain triglyceride than a medium chain and is slower to digest. Lauric acid does have many health benefits – immunity being the most notable.
C8 and C10 fatty acids (caprylic and capric acids) have the most potent effects on the body. They both can be more easily digested and used by the brain for energy. If you are looking for a more potent MCT solution – the greatest benefits of MCT oil can be found in caprylic and capric acids.
Ways to use MCT Oil
MCT oil is a translucent liquid with little odor when at room temperature. It is virtually tasteless so it can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. To get MCT oil benefits effectively, you can start by adding it to your morning coffee, tea, smoothies or in a nightly 10-minute hair mask for shine. You can even combine MCT oil with your favorite spices from the kitchen cabinet for a homemade salad dressing or as a marinade for any type of meat. Adding small amounts of these healthy fats can sustain energy and prolong concentration and performance throughout the day. As you can see, you can gain MCT oil benefits by easily adding it to your diet.
However, too much of a good thing is enough to upset the stomach. Start using it gradually by adding 1 to 3 teaspoons up to twice daily and see how your body is affected. Next, slowly work up to 2 tablespoons two to three times daily.
Before you jump online and buy a bottle of MCT oil: avoid the gimmicks but review the facts before you purchase. Make sure you read the label closely and understand which fatty acids are most prevalent in the bottle. If you are prone to GI distress, avoid less expensive versions of MCT oil that contain more 1 to 2 percent C6, as it can cause gastric upset.
Your best bet is to find a MCT oil with more C8 and C10, because it is the fastest to metabolize, will suppress hunger and will increase mental clarity. For starters, you can get the benefits of MCT oil by trying NuMedica’s MCT oil supplement. But if you are just looking for more C12 in your diet for its microbial and anti-inflammatory properties and not for an energy boost, just add coconut oil into your diet—it is less expensive and can be easily found at most grocery stores.