Pooja Dhomkar

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                       MCTs are more familiar names in recent years as they can be added in smoothies, salad dressing, soups, etc. Its powder form is more useful, as it can be added in different Atta’s. Medium-chain fatty acids or MCT oil contain medium-chain triglycerides so the name is given.

But there are some consequences regarding MCT. Let’s focus on it.

What are Medium Chain Triglycerides ? Are they same as Saturated Fatty acids?

Medium Chain Triglycerides(MCTs) also called Medium Chain Fatty acids (MCFA) are a type of SATURATED FATTY ACIDS ( SFA) with no double bond fully saturated with hydrogen and carbon atoms. SFA are solid at room temperature.

How much calories does MCT’S give per gram?

MCTs gives 6-7 kcal per gram, lesser  than vegetable oil which gives 9kcal/gm/ml.

Are vegetable sources also contains MCT or only animal foods?

plant sources also contains MCT's.
image credit: ionlabs.com

Sources are mostly from animals like milk and milk products, cheese, butter, ghee, cream, lard, margaine.

 Plant sources are palm kernel oil, coconut oil & coca. Vegetables oils are liquids in nature as they do not contain SFA. Hydrogenation of this oil produces Trans fatty acids which are harmful to Health.

What are the types of Medium Chain Triglycerides? Give in details

Fatty acidsChain length/carbon atomMelting point degree CFood sources
Caprylic AcidC-8
Coconut oil,Palm kernel oil
Capric acidC-1031.3Milk , Butter, coconut oil
Lauric acidC-1244Coconut oil, palm kernel oil
Myristic acidC-1454.4Butter , dairy fat, Coconut oil, palm kernel oil

Define the role of MCTs.

Fatty acidRole
C 8 to C10Hypocholesterolemic effect
C 12Antiviral effect
 C 14Acylation of some proteins

What is the mode of action of MCTs which makes them different from other fatty acids?

mode of action of MCT's
image credit: nutritionreview.org

MCTs are directly absorbed in portal system (albumin free fatty acids ) rather than lymphatic system for transportation. 

Do not required carnitine for transportation into mitochondria (NUTRITION ISSUES IN GASTROENTEROLOGY, SERIES #160.)  transported to liver where they are readily oxidised & produce energy.(Use of less Lipase & Bile)

What is the use of MCT?

Infant formulas, Parenteral  nutrition, weight management and mainly is GI diseases where FAT digestion is hampered  like Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, liver diseases (jaundice, cirrhosis,)  pancreatitis,cyctic fibrosis, malabsorption in neonates etc.

Does Medium Chain Triglycerides should be used in weight management?

Yes. It can be used for weight loss as it shows increase in energy expenditure & give faster satiety. There is increase in lipid oxidation & in postprandial lipid oxidation & also down regulation of adipogenic genes after administration of MCT. (Marten et al., 2006; Rolland et al., 2002).

Do they deposited in the body?

MCTs are more Ketogenic than long chain fatty acids & easily undergo Beta oxidation to acetic acid thus having less chances of being deposited as body fat.(Huth P et al. Bioactivity & emerging role of Short & medium chain fatty acid.2010;22 (12):266-9. & (Han et al., 2003St-Onge et al., 2003Takeuchi et al., 2006)

MCTs are inflammatory or anti inflammatory?

MCTs are anti-inflammatory & immunomodulating nutrient. (Kono H et al. They prevent chemically induced experimental colitis in rats. 2010 Mar;155(3):131-41. Epub 2009 Sep 22.)

MCTs also improve absorption of calcium , magnesium & amino acids

How much amount of MCTs does one should administered? 

A tablespoon (15 mL) of MCT oil contains 14 grams of fat and 105 -120 calories.

The daily dose of MCTs should be increased according to tolerance of the person, while equally dividing the dose across all meals. 

Daily dose of 20-25 ml (4 to 5 teaspoon) per day should be equally distributed along the meals.

Do not use only MCT oil for a longer period of time as it may restrict use of essential fatty acids. Always combine MCT with vegetable oil to get all types of fatty acids.

Are there any side effects?

Overconsumption of oral MCT oil has been associated with gastrointestinal distress, such as abdominal discomfort, cramping, gassiness, bloating, and diarrhea. 

Can it be mixed with foods & beverages?

can be mixed  with foods and bevarages
image credit:hmhub.me

Yes. The MCTs can be easily added to a variety of foods and beverages. e.g.,  hot cereals, soups, sauces, broth, smoothies, fruit/vegetable juices, hot chocolate, coffee, tea, chapatti, bhakari, rice etc.

Are MCTs allowed in cooking?

MCTs are used in cooking, the temperature should be kept below 150 degree C(302degree F) to reduce risk of its oxidation, and otherwise the flavor of the food could be affected.

Can Medium Chain Triglycerides used in tube feeding?

MCT can be used in tube feeding.
image credit :nestlehealthscience.ca

  A tablespoon of MCT oil can also be administered through a feeding tube using a syringe along with a 30 ml water flush before and after its administration.

Which is the best source of MCTs?

Coconut oil is saturated fatty acid with 60 % of MCTs, 6 to 12 carbon atom chain length. Major MCT is Lauric acid (Bhatnagar et al., 2009), which are absorbed directly into the portal circulation without re-esterification in intestinal cells (Ferreira et al., 2012)

Coconut oil contains 36.95 g lauric acid (C12:0) ,  4.67 g capric acid (C10:0), and trace amounts of caprylic acid (C8:0) and caproic acid (C6:0)

The bottom line is always taking experts opinions before starting any change in your diet. MCT has potential health benefits. It’s very good for weight loss, buts it cannot give fast weight loss. It is useful in GI tract diseases, brain functioning & bacterial activity (antibacterial & antiviral). In the end, do keep eye on the quantity of MCT you are taking.

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