MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. They are found naturally in coconut and palm kernel oils. MCT’s are a saturated fat, however, contrary to popular belief, they are not harmful to our health but are actually highly beneficial. MCT’s do not raise blood lipid levels, nor do they increase LDL cholesterol. They are passively diffused into the bloodstream where they travel to the liver to get metabolized. In the liver they are converted into ketones, a high energy type of fuel. MCT’s are different than your standard long chain triglycerides, they are not stored in the body for later use, they are burned immediately and act more like a carbohydrate than a fat.
MCT’s are being used therapeutically to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia. They help to bring mental clarity back and reduce the “fog” that so many people experience. The ketones produced from the MCT’s are used by the brain cells for energy. An ageing brain can become insulin resistant and no longer able to use glucose, the body’s main source of fuel. Ketones take the place of glucose and the brain can begin to function again.
Ketones are also capable of reducing seizures so are beneficial for those suffering from epilepsy. Traditionally, epileptic patients were put on a ketogenic diet, where they had to keep their carbohydrate consumption extremely low. In the body, ketones are also produced from protein, but only in the presence of no carbohydrates. This kind of diet is very difficult to stick with and comes with some unpleasant side effects. MCT’s however, are able to make ketones regardless of the amount of glucose present in the body.
MCT’s have been popular in the athletic community for years. Because it metabolizes quickly into a high energy fuel, MCT’s have been used for all types of exercise, from bodybuilding to marathon running. MCT’s pack a high calorie punch, but don’t get stored as fat. They are popular and effective for weight loss because they improve appetite control, raise thyroid hormone, and give the body energy for exercise. MCT’s can be a great tool while dieting, especially if carbohydrates are being reduced.
It is important to start slowly if you’re new to MCT oil. Too much, too soon can cause loose stools and intestinal cramping. For Alzheimer’s treatment the recommended dose seems to range from 1 to 5 tbsp per day. Most anecdotal evidence suggests that MCT oil is more effective if also mixed with coconut oil for a sustained release. Spread the amount throughout the day with meals. For weight loss the dosage range is mixed, I would recommend starting with a teaspoon per day and working up to a tablespoon. Always take MCT oil with food as it can cause gastrointestinal problems if taken on an empty stomach. Coconut oil can be easily incorporated into the diet. Spread it on toast, put it in a smoothie or use it in baking. There are countless ways to include coconut oil and MCT oil in the daily diet. Be creative and have fun with it.
By: Krista Boulding, RHN