What are Medium Chain Triglicerides?

coconut-oil-2535374_1920

Image source: pixabay.com

Medium-chain triglycerides  (MCT)

A trend to watch is the increased use of liquid or powdered medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) extracted from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, desiccated coconut, and raw coconut meat. MCT usually has two or three of the fatty acid chains belong to medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). Unlike long-chain triglycerides (LCT), MCT will be broken down into glycerol and MCFAs, which will be directly absorbed into the bloodstream and thereby transported to the target organs.

  • [1] MCT has been shown to support exercise endurance, increased muscle mass, and is being popularized for weight loss as it reduces cravings.[2]
  • [3] However, some studies point to a negative impact of MCT oil consumption on cardiovascular disease risk.
  • [4] MCT is also recommended for multiple sclerosis patients.
  • A 2019 study demonstrated that MCT combined with a Mediterranean diet resulted in an increase in lean mass and fat mass loss. Furthermore, a satiating effect was found, alongside a lower feeling of hunger, at lunch and dinner. Consequently, this type of diet may represent a therapeutic alternative by supplementing the pharmacological treatment. However, new studies would be required to confirm the conclusions drawn and the mechanisms proposed.[5]

MCT’s potential extends beyond weight loss and increased muscle mass. A study involving premature infants demonstrated that dietary supplementation with MCT might be an effective non-pharmacological method to reduce candida colonization in their GI tracts.[6] Additionally, a ketogenic diet with the addition of MCT has shown results for drug-resistant epilepsy. The ketogenic diet comprises high levels of fat and low carbohydrate.[7]

However, the jury is still out. As with any new trend proceed with caution. If a client is presenting with liver issues, this study demonstrated that MCT oil has shown detrimental hepatic effects despite being recommended for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease[8] and should be used with caution.[9] The dose is also important. Excessive intake of oral MCT oil has been associated with gastrointestinal distress, such as abdominal discomfort, cramping, gassiness, bloating, and diarrhea.[10] If these symptoms are encountered, reduce the dosage to one teaspoon per day.

References:

[1] Wang, Y., Liu, Z., Han, Y., Xu, J., Huang, W., & Li, Z. (2018). Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism. PloS one, 13(2), e0191182. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191182

[2] Abe S, Ezaki O, Suzuki M (2016). Medium-Chain Triglycerides in Combination with Leucine and Vitamin D Increase Muscle Strength and Function in Frail Elderly Adults in a Randomized Controlled Trial.

J Nutr. May; 146(5):1017-26

[3] St-Onge, M. P., Bosarge, A., Goree, L. L., & Darnell, B. (2008). Medium chain triglyceride oil consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 27(5), 547–552. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2008.10719737

[4] St-Onge, M. P., Bosarge, A., Goree, L. L., & Darnell, B. (2008). Medium chain triglyceride oil consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 27(5), 547–552. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2008.10719737

[5] Benlloch, M., López-Rodríguez, M. M., Cuerda-Ballester, M., Drehmer, E., Carrera, S., Ceron, J. J., Tvarijonaviciute, A., Chirivella, J., Fernández-García, D., & de la Rubia Ortí, J. E. (2019). Satiating Effect of a Ketogenic Diet and Its Impact on Muscle Improvement and Oxidation State in Multiple Sclerosis Patients. Nutrients, 11(5), 1156. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11051156

[6] Arsenault, A. B., Gunsalus, K., Laforce-Nesbitt, S. S., Przystac, L., DeAngelis, E. J., Hurley, M. E., Vorel, E. S., Tucker, R., Matthan, N. R., Lichtenstein, A. H., Kumamoto, C. A., & Bliss, J. M. (2019). Dietary Supplementation With Medium-Chain Triglycerides Reduces Candida Gastrointestinal Colonization in Preterm Infants. The Pediatric infectious disease journal, 38(2), 164–168. https://doi.org/10.1097/INF.0000000000002042

[7] Chang, P., Terbach, N., Plant, N., Chen, P. E., Walker, M. C., & Williams, R. S. (2013). Seizure control by ketogenic diet-associated medium chain fatty acids. Neuropharmacology, 69, 105–114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.11.004

[8] Dietary medium chain triglycerides prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. ScienceDaily. (2013). Retrieved 4 August 2020, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424161110.htm.

[9] Guimarães, J., Bargut, T., Mandarim-de-Lacerda, C. A., & Aguila, M. B. (2019). Medium-chain triglyceride reinforce the hepatic damage caused by fructose intake in mice. Prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and essential fatty acids, PLEFA 140, 64–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plefa.2018.11.005

[10] hah, N., & Limketkai, B. (2017). The Use of Medium-Chain Triglycerides in Gastrointestinal Disorders. Med.virginia.edu. Retrieved 4 August 2020, from https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2014/06/Parrish-February-17.pdf.

Embrace your tomorrow.
Request information today.