Two weeks ago I shared my thoughts on saturated fats, and last week I sent out an article on some of the research I had done on coconut oil. I thought it was only natural to look into MCT oil and share some important info on that with you as well. First, for those of you who don’t know, let me explain what MCT oil actually is.
Since saturated fats have been “in vogue” recently, there’s been a lot more attention placed on coconut oil and MCT oil. ‘MCT’ is short for ‘Medium Chain Triglycerides’, which are a specific type of dietary fat. Medium Chain Triglycerides are naturally found in coconut oil, and “MCT Oil” is simply a very concentrated oil made up of nearly 100% Medium Chain Triglycerides (usually sourced from coconut oil).
Since most people routinely confuse these two oils, let me make one clarification. Coconut oil and MCT oil are not the same. MCT oil is purely made up of Medium Chain Triglycerides, while coconut oil contains a much smaller percentage of Medium Chain Triglycerides. This is an important distinction, since this may mean these oils have different properties.
Although coconut oil and MCT oil are “saturated fats”, many people are now considering them to be “healthy fats” – but there is still much debate about this. Many people are now using MCT oil for weight loss, brain health, and to improve their energy and metabolism. I think MCT oil is a promising supplement; however, being that this is a saturated fat, I mainly wanted to find out if MCT oil would have any positive or negative effect on our cardiovascular health.
After looking into some of the research on MCT oils, I found 16 studies that pertained to their effects on cardiovascular markers and the results were quite mixed. While eight of the studies showed that MCT oil had a no effect on cholesterol levels, four of these were flawed studies and one of them was funded by a very large producer of MCT oils in Japan.
Eight other studies showed that MCT oil can cause elevations in total cholesterol, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. What I noticed is that most of these studies tended to use fairly high amounts (60-70 grams per day) of MCT oil in their experiments. I also noticed that two of the studies that had shown beneficial outcomes with MCT were using smaller dosages (18 – 20 grams per day).
We cannot say for certain what impact MCT oil will have on your cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health in the long term. The effect of MCT oil on cholesterol may, in fact, be dependent on dosage – with higher dosages raising cholesterol levels, and lower dosages having a little or no effect. If you choose to use MCT oil for one of it’s many benefits, I would advise that you not exceed 30 grams per day and monitor your cholesterol levels regularly.
Dr. Michael Morsillo, H.B.Sc., N.D.
Newmarket Naturopathic Clinic