Nutritional Supplements Library
Medium chain triglycerides (MCT)
What is Medium chain triglycerides (MCT)?
Medium-chain triglycerides, commonly abbreviated MCT or MCTs, are medium-chain fatty acid esters of glycerol. Medium-chain triglycerides are class of fatty acids containing from six to 12 carbon atoms. These fatty acids are constituents of coconut and palm kernel oils and is also found in camphor tree drupes. Coconut and palm kernel oils are also called lauric oils because of their high content of the 12 carbon fatty acid, lauric or dodecanoic acid.Medium-chain triglycerides used for nutritional and other commercial purposes are derived from lauric oils. In the process of producing MCTs, lauric oils are hydrolyzed to medium-chain fatty acids and glycerol.
The glycerol is drawn off from the resultant mixture, and the medium-chain fatty acids are fractionally distilled. The medium-chain fatty acid fraction used commercially is mainly comprised of the eight carbon caprylic or octanoic acid and the 10 carbon capric or decanoic acid. There are much smaller amounts of the six carbon caproic or hexanoic acid and the 12 carbon lauric acid in the commercial products.
What is the effective dosage of MCT supplementation?
The effective dosage of MCT is 1 to 5 (80 g) tablespoons per day.
What are the benefits of MCT supplementation?
• It helps to increase endurance because it is more easily absorbed and burned for energy than other long chain fats.
• It facilitates the absorption of vitamins like E, A, D and K.
• It is popular among body builders because they help reduce carbohydrate intake, while allowing them ready access to energy whenever they need it. MCTs also have muscle-sparing effects. As a result, they can build muscles while reducing fats.
• Since it is a better and more efficient source of quick energy. They help conserve lean body mass because they prevent muscle proteins from being used as energy. Therefore, some athletes load up on medium-chain triglycerides the night before a competition. However, MCT intake should be raised gradually to allow the body to adapt to increasing MCT consumption. If MCT consumption abruptly increases, incomplete MCT metabolism may occur, producing lactic acid in the body and a rapid rise of ketones in the blood, which can make the person ill.
What are the side effects of MCT supplementation?
• Consuming medium chain triglycerides on an empty stomach can lead to gastrointestinal upset.
• Anyone with cirrhosis or other liver problems should check with a doctor before using MCT.
• It may raise serum cholesterol and/or triglycerides. Long-term high-level MCT consumption is associated with increased risk of heart disease and other conditions. Therefore, no more than 10% of a person's diet should come from MCTs.
• At high dosage it can cause abdominal pain, cramps, and diarrhea.
Diabetic athletes and those with liver disease should not use MCT products. MCT oil should not completely replace all dietary fats, as this would result in a deficiency of other essential fatty acids. MCT oil is not for cooking. It is usually consumed in its uncooked form.