For thousands of years, coconuts have been crushed and used as a source of dietary fat in tropical and semi-tropical countries around the world. Although coconut oil comes from the crushed nuts of the coconut tree(Cocos nucifera), it is made up of 90 percent saturated fats which are the type of fats most commonly associated with animals, not plants(1).
For decades, Western countries have campaigned against the use of saturated fats in the diet, citing concerns over increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, despite little supporting evidence of this link(2). This bias against saturated fats allowed coconut oil to be overlooked for many years in terms of its potential health benefits.However, recent research has shown that tropical countries following traditional practices with coconuts and coconut oil experience some of the best cardiovascular and heart health in the world(1,3).
How is that possible? It turns out that the saturated fat in coconut oil contains more than 50 percent medium-chain triglycerides or MCT(4). This gives coconut oil a much different chemical profile than animal fats which are mostly long-chain triglycerides or LCT.
Many of the beneficial health effects of coconut are derived from MCT.Physician’s Choice MCT Oil provides a concentrated supplement of the most biologically active components of cold pressed coconut oil. This means you can get the benefits of coconut oil without having to consume large quantities of saturated fat.
Triglycerides, or fatty acid chains, are naturally occurring components of fat molecules(5). They are distinguished from each other based on how long they are, that is, by how many carbon atoms their chain contains. Therefore a C2 triglyceride is a short-chain fatty acid having only two carbon atoms in the chain, whereas a C24 triglyceride is a long-chain fatty acid with twenty-four carbon atoms.
Triglycerides are classified by chain length as follows(4):
Physician’s Choice MCT Oil contains only C8 and C10 medium-chain triglycerides. These are the most critical fatty acid chains derived from coconut oil.
The body uses fats as sources of energy. Most types of saturated fats come from animals and contain LCT. These LCT must undergo digestion to be absorbed by the body. That takes time, and therefore, the energy derived from LCT takes time to access.
By contrast, the saturated fat found in coconut oil has 50 percent MCT that can be directly absorbed by the body. This means that the energy potential of coconut oil is available much faster than for other types of saturated fats(1). This is what provides the quick energy boost associated with MCT and coconut oil consumption.
Medium-chain triglycerides are rapidly absorbed by the body and so are available for use as energy in a process called ketosis. Ketosis is where the body burns fat instead of glucose in the blood as a form of energy.
This shift from glucose to fat burning helps reduce hunger and stabilizes carbohydrate metabolism, leading to reduced food intake when MCT are consumed(6). This in turn can support weight loss goals and promote healthy weight management when MCTs replace LCT in the diet(7).
In a 2018 study of 19 older women, combining MCT oil with aerobic exercise was shown to increase blood ketones more effectively than either treatment alone (10). Because the amount of ketones available to the brain is proportionate to that found in the blood, this study suggests that combining the two treatments (exercise and MCT oil) will provide better results for women as they age. This study used an MCT oil that was 55 percent C8 and 35 percent C10.
If MCT oil is derived from coconut oil, why not just use coconut oil itself?
Coconut oil contains approximately 50 percent MCT, with the biologically active C8 (caprylic acid) and C10 (capric acid) making up eight and seven percent of the total product, respectively.
By comparison, Physician’s Choice MCT oil is 100 percent MCT derived from cold-pressed coconut oil, with a composition of 60 percent C8 and 40 percent C10.
To get the equivalent amount of C8 directly from coconut oil, you would need to consume eight times as much coconut oil than if you obtained the C8 from MCT oil. That is a significant difference in terms of the amount of daily saturated fat intake.
A 2017 study has shown that MCT oil controls food intake better than coconut oil, thus while both oils have some benefits for weight loss goals they are not equivalent in terms of their clinical outcomes(13). MCT oil outperforms coconut oil as a dietary supplement.
Physician’s Choice MCT Oil is a powerful extract of coconut oil that provides higher doses of C8 and C10 MCT without needing to consume large quantities of saturated fat daily.
MCT Oil also has the advantage of being a tasteless extract, meaning it is easy to add the recommended daily dose of one tablespoon to your morning coffee or favorite drink and not have everything taste like coconut.
MCT oil can be a useful supplement to increase energy and support weight loss.
Although side effects are rare, you should stop using MCT Oil and consult your health care provider if you experience any of the following(14):
At Physician’s Choice, we believe in quality, purity and science-backed results. Our MCT Oils are made from cold-pressed coconuts. We standardize and third-party test our products to ensure they are delivering the safety and potency you deserve in a supplement. Visit ourabout page to learn more.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Sue Senger - Contributing Writer, Physician’s Choice