Food Grade Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, a refined oil derived mainly from coconut and palm oils. It is composed almost exclusively of capric acid and caprylic acid, which are the C10 and C8 saturated fatty acids, respectively. Saturated fatty acids do not contain double bonds along the carbon chain (as opposed to unsaturated fatty acids). A triglyceride consists of a glycerol backbone and three fatty acids. In the case of MCT oil, the fatty acids are medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which means they are saturated fatty acids composed of 6-10 carbons.
Because MCFAs are metabolized differently compared to longer chain saturated fatty acids, they are hypothesized to have improved health outcomes. They are often touted for improving blood lipid profiles and aiding weight loss, particularly in the context of the ketogenic diet. According to a recent meta-analysis review, MCFAs may have no significant effect on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, making them potentially a healthier option compared to longer chain saturated fatty acids or mixed-length saturated fatty acids (i.e. coconut oil). However, they still appear to increase overall triglyceride levels, which is causally associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. Because MCFAs are preferentially metabolized for energy as opposed to fat storage, it is also hypothesized that they are a useful weight loss supplement, but there is as yet no research to definitively support this.
Unsaturated fatty acids are still a healthier choice in the context of blood lipid profiles compared with saturated fatty acids; within the range of saturated fatty acids, there appears to be a more nuanced hierarchy than was initially understood. A transition to MCFAs from other saturated fatty acids is a more feasible undertaking in the context of the current food system, given the higher melting point and improved oxidative stability of saturated fatty acids compared to unsaturated fatty acids.
MCT Oil Offerings at Lab Alley
Common Uses and Applications
- Skincare formulations
- Food production and cooking
- Medicine production
- Dietary supplements