You’ve always heard of MCT, be it in your coffee or drinks, but how well do you know about it?
MCT oil is commonly heard of by people who are doing keto diet, mainly for it being in the bulletproof coffee that you make or consume. Many people know somewhat that it’s good for the keto diet and that it is a necessary ingredient for making the bulletproof coffee, but do you actually know what it is?
What is MCT oil?
MCT oils are known as medium-chain triglycerides, which consists of 6-12 carbon atoms. Fatty acids consist of hydrogen and oxygen that are structured in a chain-like matter similar to a tail, and depending on how long this tail is, it is further divided to short, medium and long chain. Short-chain fatty acids contain less than 6 carbons, while medium-chain fatty acids consist of 6-12 carbons and anything more than 12 carbons are considered long-chain fatty acids.
Why MCT oil?
During the process of ketosis, the liver converts fatty acids into ketones which is then used by the body as an energy source. This process of conversion requires the liver to break down the carbon chains for digestion and absorption.
Normally, the fat that we consume would be mixed with bile from our gallbladder and then which goes into our pancreas, followed by our digestive systems to be digesting. The longer the carbon chain of the fatty acid, the longer it takes to digest and be converted into ketones as a source of energy.
Conversely, the shorter the chain of the fatty acid, the easier it is broken down and converted into ketones. As the MCT oil has a shorter carbon chain, it does not follow the usual route of digestion and instead goes straight to the liver to be metabolized into ketones. The ketones then go through the bloodstream throughout the entire body, passing through the blood-brain-barrier (BBB), and provides energy directly to the brain.
In short – it does not require much digestion and is able to provide fast energy to your brain.
The different kinds of MCT oil
There are four different types of MCT, namely C6 (Caproic acid), C8 (Caprylic acid), C10 (Capric acid) and C12 (Lauric acid). As the numbers suggests, C6 contains 6 carbon atoms, while C8 contains 8 and so on.
C6 is the shortest chain that can be metabolized quickly, but has an unpleasant smell that is present in vanilla and ginkgo fruits, which causes it to be often omitted from the manufacturing of MCT oils.
C8 is the second shortest chain which can also be metabolized quickly, but contrary to C6, does not present that nasty smell. It is also known to help improve intestinal bacterial flora and is commonly found in the milk of various mammals as well as small amounts in coconut and palm seed oil.
C10, similar to C8 is found in the milk of various mammals as well as small amounts in coconut and palm seed oil, and promotes mitochondrial proliferations, which helps to increase metabolism. It is very commonly used in MCT oil alongside C8.
C12 is the slowest chain to be metabolized due to its longer chains of fatty acid and is also not as commonly used in MCT oils.
50% of coconut milk, oil, laurel oil and palm see oil accounts for its fatty acid content. It is also known that human breast milk contains these fatty acids and helps to boost immunity in newborn babies. 95% of Medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed through the portal vein and used as energy, however in the case of C12, only 25-30% is absorbed, which is why it is not as recommended to be in the production of MCT oils.
However, C12 has the advantage of being inexpensive, which makes production cheaper, as well as the fact that it has a longer storage period and is non-toxic, which makes it safe. It is also a fatty acid that helps to contribute to HDL (High density lipoprotein) increase in plasma cholesterol and has excellent antibacterial and antiviral effects.
How should I choose my MCT oil?
1) The ratio of the content –
The quality of the MCT oil will affect the price of it. MCT oil generally consists of a collection of C8, C10 and C12 and when choosing the it, we would recommend you to choose MCT oils with mainly C8 and C10 contents.
You may wonder why C6 is struck off the list, but it is because if can cause problems with the digestive systems (GI track). The fatty acid chain is too short, which allows it to be absorbed extremely quickly, which may cause you to have a slight diarrhea and some aching with the tummy.
Occasionally, there are some products that are marked with containing C6, it is due to the extraction process and are normally contained in small amounts which shouldn’t cause any issue with the tummy. However, those that are very sensitive to it should still avoid it.
As mentioned, C12 is not highly recommended if you require the body to produce ketones at a high rate, which you can actually just obtain it by consuming normal coconut oil.
2) The way it is extracted –
MCT are fatty acids that exists in natural products but requires an extraction and purification process in order to obtain its purest forms. It can be extracted from coconut, palm or palm seed oil, which can be extracted in a non-environmentally or habitually friendly way.
For example, some forests are cleared out in order to mass-produce the trees in order to obtain the MCT oil. This is completely up to you to decide and find out whether the product has been properly sourced or not should you care about the environmental damages it may cause similar to other products.
Naturally, should you prefer high quality organic products that are obtained from the nature, the price would definitely take a hike as well.
Ultimately – it is up to you to decide whether you want to choose between the price and quality of the product.