Medium-chain triglycerides are a type of fat that is found in certain oils and dairy products.MCT oil is a dietary supplement that is made up of MCT fats, which are fats that can be found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products.
1. Better brain and memory function
The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation have reported the pros and cons of MCTs in respect of brain and memory function, as well as their potential benefits for those with Alzheimer’s disease.
But to what extent are the claims surrounding MCTs backed up by scientific evidence?
A 2016 review notes that in three studies, the brain’s take-up of ketones in people with Alzheimer’s was the same as in healthy people. In contrast, the brain’s take-up of glucose was poorer in those with Alzheimer’s than healthy people.
The reviewers also note that ketosis has a slight beneficial effect on thinking ability for those with Alzheimer’s. Ketosis is when the brain uses ketones for energy instead of glucose.
More research is needed to say with certainty that MCTs or MCT oil can improve brain and memory function. That said, initial research is promising, and there is growing interest in the use of MCTs in this area.
2. Energy boost and increased endurance
Supporters of MCT oil claim that it can help boost a person’s energy and improve their endurance when they are working out.
A 2009 study found that consuming food rich in MCTs, rather than longer-chain fats, improved the time that recreational athletes could endure high-intensity exercise.
This evidence is encouraging but too limited to conclude for certain that MCTs or MCT oil can improve exercise endurance, as one 2010 study notes.
3. Weight loss and improved weight management
A popular claim that supporters of MCT oil make is that it helps with weight loss. This area has been studied the most by scientists.
A 2003 study found that MCTs increased the calories and fat that overweight men burned. It concluded that MCTs might be helpful in the prevention of obesity and to stimulate weight loss.
A 2014 study found that MCTs led to a greater increase in the hormones that reduce appetite and make a person feel full. This was in comparison with longer-chain fats.
The evidence suggests that MCTs may play an important role in weight loss and management.
However, it is important to note that studies have looked at MCTs as a type of dietary fat rather than MCT oil supplements specifically.
4. Lowered cholesterol
MCTs may also have a part to play in helping to protect heart health by lowering cholesterol.
A 2009 study that looked at 40 women found that consuming coconut oil reduced bad types of cholesterol and improved good ones. The comparison was to soybean oil and taken alongside a calorie-controlled diet.
As MCT oil is high in the MCTs found in coconut oil, it is also likely to improve cholesterol levels. However, as the study did not look at MCT oil specifically, this cannot be said with certainty.
5. Lowered blood sugar levels
MCTs may also help to improve blood sugar levels and play a potential role in diabetesmanagement.
A 2007 study found MCT improved diabetes risk factors, including insulin resistance, in a small group of participants with type 2 diabetes.