MCT oil: What are the health benefits?

MCT oil is a nutritional supplement that has gained popularity among athletes and bodybuilders in recent years. The popularity of coconut oil, which contains a high concentration of MCTs, has contributed to its widespread use.

A medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is one that includes medium-length chains of fats known as triglycerides, as suggested by its name. MCTs are more easily digested than long-chain fatty acids, which can be found in a variety of other foods because of their shorter length.

Considering that MCTs account for more than half of the fat in coconut oil, it makes sense that MCT oil would be derived from coconut oil. These fats can also be present in other foods, such as palm oil and dairy products, but they are less prevalent.

There are four different forms of MCTs, with caprylic and capric acid being the most typically employed in MCT oil production. In some circumstances, these particular kinds provide advantages that are not found elsewhere.

This report analyzes the health benefits of MCT oil, which have been shown through scientific research. It also takes into account the hazards associated with the usage of MCT oil, as well as where to obtain it and how it can be utilised effectively.

Introduction

coconut oil
MCT oil, which may be obtained from coconuts, is frequently used to aid with weight loss and fitness enhancement.

It is made up of MCT fats, which are fats that can be found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products. It is a dietary supplement that can be taken in the form of a capsule.

Individuals seeking weight loss or to increase their endurance during a workout are the most common users of MCT oil.

Some proponents of MCT oil assert that it can improve cognitive function as well as aid in the treatment of various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

What exactly are MCTs, and how do they vary from other types of fats?

When it comes to fats, they are made up of chained carbon atoms, and the majority of the fats found in a person’s diet have between 13 and 21 carbon atoms. These are referred to as long-chain fatty acids.

A short-chain fatty acid, on the other hand, contains no more than six carbon atoms.

MCTs are triglycerides with a medium-chain length that fall between the other two forms of triglycerides. They are between 6 and 12 carbon atoms in length and have a medium length.

MCTs are fatty acids found in coconut oil that are processed by the body in a different way than long-chain fatty acids. MCTs are also found in chia seeds. They do not travel via the digestive tract to the liver like other fats. They are then either used as a source of energy or converted into ketones at this point.

Ketones are molecules created when the liver breaks down a large amount of fat, and they can be utilised by the brain as an alternative source of energy to glucose or sugar in certain circumstances.

Because the calories in MCTs are utilised immediately, they have a lower likelihood of being stored as fat. In fact, this is the underlying idea of the ketogenic diet, which many people consider to be an efficient method of losing weight.

Health benefits

MCT oil has the potential to provide a number of health benefits. The scientific proof for some of these claims has been established, but others have not. Each potential advantage, as well as the available evidence, is discussed in greater detail below:

Improved cognitive and memory performance

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation has published a paper on the benefits and drawbacks of MCTs in terms of brain and memory function, as well as their potential benefits for persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

The question is, to what degree are the claims made about MCTs substantiated by scientific evidence.

According to a 2016 study, three research found that the brain’s take-up of ketones in patients with Alzheimer’s disease was the same as that of healthy people. The brain’s ability to absorb glucose, on the other hand, was found to be less effective in patients with Alzheimer’s disease than in healthy people.

The reviewers also point out that ketosis has a somewhat favourable influence on cognitive abilities in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. When the brain uses ketones for energy instead of glucose, it is said to be in ketosis.

In order to be positive that MCTs or MCT oil can boost brain and memory function, further research must be done in this area. Having said that, preliminary research seems encouraging, and there is considerable interest in the application of MCTs in this field.

Increased energy and endurance

MCT oil proponents assert that it can aid in increasing a person’s energy levels and increasing their endurance when they are engaged in physical activity.

According to a 2009 study, eating foods high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) rather than longer-chain triglycerides increased the amount of time recreational athletes could sustain high-intensity exercise.

According to one 2010 study, while the evidence is encouraging, it is yet insufficient to draw firm conclusions about whether MCTs or MCT oil can improve exercise endurance.

Weight loss and improved weight management

The claim that MCT oil aids in weight loss is one that is frequently made by promoters of the product. Scientists have spent the most time on this topic.

According to a 2003 study, MCTs enhanced the amount of calories and fat that overweight men were able to burn. It came to the conclusion that MCTs may be beneficial in the prevention of obesity as well as in the stimulation of weight loss.

According to a 2014 study, MCTs resulted in a larger increase in the hormones that suppress appetite and make a person feel fuller faster. This was in compared to fats with a longer chain of fatty acids.

According to the data, MCTs may play a significant role in the prevention and control of obesity.

The fact that studies have looked at MCTs as a form of dietary fat rather than MCT oil supplementation specifically is important to remember.

Lowered cholesterol

MCTs may also have a role to play in protecting heart health by decreasing cholesterol levels, according to some research.

An investigation carried out in 2009 on 40 women discovered that ingesting coconut oil reduced bad forms of cholesterol while improving good types. The comparison was made with soybean oil, which was consumed in conjunction with a calorie-controlled diet.

Because MCT oil contains a high concentration of the MCTs present in coconut oil, it has the potential to lower cholesterol levels. As the study did not specifically examine MCT oil, it is impossible to say with certainty whether or not it is beneficial.

Lowering of blood glucose levels

MCTs may also be beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels and may have a function to play in the management of diabetes.

In a small sample of participants with type 2 diabetes, a 2007 study indicated that MCT reduced diabetes risk variables, including insulin resistance, and enhanced insulin sensitivity.

Risks and factors to consider

MCTs derived from dietary sources and MCT oil have the potential to provide health advantages. While taking them, it is crucial to remember that one is consuming a fat-containing substance.

A person’s diet will be enriched with additional fats and calories if they use MCT oil. As a result, excessive consumption of MCT oil may not be healthy and may even cause a person to gain excess weight.

Due to the fact that MCT oil supplements are made from modified versions of dietary oils, they are not regarded to be a natural product.

The fact that MCT oil has a low smoke point means that it is not suited for use in the kitchen should not be overlooked.

Although it is difficult to cook with solid coconut oil because to its high MCT content, it can be substituted for olive oil or other cooking oils in some cases.

MCTs sources

MCT oil supplements are available at a wide variety of health food stores and online retailers.

Some people prefer to incorporate MCTs into their diet rather than taking supplements because they believe it is more natural. MCTs can be found in the following:

  • coconut oil
  • palm kernel oil
  • milk
  • butter

Conclusion

Taking MCT oil supplements may also be advantageous because of the numerous possible health benefits of MCTs.

While MCTs are unlikely to result in significant weight loss, they may be able to aid in the management of one’s overall weight. They may also be beneficial in terms of increasing energy and endurance, though additional research is needed to confirm this.

Additionally, a growing body of studies suggests that MCTs may enhance a person’s ability to think and may help them to resist the consequences of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Once again, this is an issue that need deeper investigation.

However, it is worth noting that getting MCTs via food rather than taking MCT oil supplements may result in a person receiving more nutritional value overall.

Sources

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19437058
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20367215
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320251
  • http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nyas.12999/full
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17570262
  • https://www.alzdiscovery.org/cognitive-vitality/ratings/medium-chain-triglycerides
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19436137
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4192077/
  • http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2003.53/full

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