Top uses for MCT oil 2

MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil contains the naturally occurring fatty acids caprylic acid (C8:0) and capric acid (C10:0), found in foods such as coconut and palm kernel.  Coconut oil is probably the best known natural source of MCTs.  Similarly to coconut oil, MCT oil offers a number of beneficial health properties.

1. Antimicrobial actions

The antimicrobial effects of MCTs against bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa have been investigated extensively.  For example, the powerful antimicrobial properties associated with MCTs are probably most well known for their ability to stop the harmful overgrowth of undesirable pathogens such as Candida albicans and Helicobacter pylori.

2. Supporting immune function

In addition to their antimicrobial effects, there is increasing evidence to suggest that MCT oil possesses immune modulating properties, acting by boosting the numbers and the activity of specific immune cells and reducing the levels of a number of inflammatory biomarkers.

3. Weight management

MCTs are a shorter-chain version of the molecules that make up saturated fats, and may therefore be considered as a healthy alternative to other saturated fats.  Due to their small size, they do not follow the normal pathway of digestion, sent instead to the liver where they are preferentially converted to fuel.  This means that instead of being stored in the body, they have a thermogenic effect, boosting metabolism and helping to drive the body into a state of excess calorie burning, thus aiding in weight loss.

 4. Athletic training

Unsurprisingly, given their benefits for weight control, MCTs are often used by athletes to help decrease levels of body fat and increase levels of lean muscle.  They are also useful for recovery after intense exercise, making them useful for individual participating in endurance events, strength training and also bodybuilding.

5. Cognitive health

The brain is an exceptionally active organ with extremely high energy requirements.   Whilst glucose is the brain’s preferential choice of fuel, there are a number of health conditions where the availability of glucose is compromised. In patients with neurodegenerative diseases for example, neurons aren’t able to utilise glucose for performance and both the brain’s structure and function can be compromised.  Studies have however shown that when taken in high doses, MCTs give rise to an alternative source of fuel called ketone bodies.  These are molecules that are converted from fat when energy sources are low, such as in carbohydrate restrictive diets, starvation or during prolonged intense exercise.  In such cases, ketone bodies can be utilised efficiently as an alternative to glucose, thereby supporting the requirements of the energy-hungry brain.

6. Epilepsy

Ketogenic diets are those that are low in carbohydrate but high in fat, with the primary objection to drive the body away from glucose production to ketone production.  Ketogenic diets have been shown to improve alertness and help reduce seizure frequency and severity among individuals with epilepsy, with MTCs used a prominent source of fat within this diet.

7. Cardiovascular health

MCTs, similarly to the mono-unsaturated fat oleic acid found in olive oil, offer a number of benefits for heart health.  Both have been shown to lower heart-damaging triglyceride levels, whilst decreasing total cholesterol levels and raising HDL (healthy) cholesterol.

Recommended doses

We recommend 2-4g MCTs daily;  more intensive benefits can be obtained from doses as high as 10g daily.  Ideally MCT oil should be taken with food.


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Dr Nina Bailey

About Dr Nina Bailey

Nina is a leading expert in marine fatty acids and their role in health and disease. Nina holds a master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition and received her doctorate from Cambridge University. Nina’s main area of interest is the role of essential fatty acids in inflammatory disorders. She is a published scientist and regularly features in national health publications and has featured as a nutrition expert on several leading and regional radio stations including SKY.FM, various BBC stations and London’s Biggest Conversation. Nina regularly holds training workshops and webinars both with the public and health practitioners.

2 thoughts on “Top uses for MCT oil

    • Dr Nina Bailey

      Hi Emma,

      Absolutely! MCTs are easily digested and promote a process called thermogenesis which increases the body’s metabolism, producing energy (helping to combat fatigue). Another benefit of metabolising MCTs is that they don’t raise cellular stress and levels free radical levels (which is the downside of burning carbohydrate as fuel). Increased stress and free radicals can exacerbate symptoms of CFS by increasing inflammation. Additionally, MCTs have a number antimicrobial benefits and are excellent to maintaining good gut health! I’d suggest 2-4g daily.

      Best wishes
      Dr Nina Bailey

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