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Coconut Oil vs MCT Oil: Benefits and Safety of Each: Thomas DeLauer
Are Coconut Oil and MCT Oil the Same?
C6 (Caproic Acid) – There isn’t a high quantity of C6 fatty acids in coconut oil, which might be a good thing. Despite being a ready source of ketone energy for your body, it has been found to cause throat irritation and gastrointestinal distress
C8 (Caprylic Acid) – This is a rare type of MCT (only 6% of coconut oil) and useful for energy via ketone metabolism.
C10 (Capric Acid) – Another major MCT is C10, which is approximately 10% of coconut oil and is considered a useful tool for energy metabolism because (like other MCTs) does not require bile salts for digestive purposes. In short, it’s easy to digest and convert to energy.
C12 (Lauric Acid) – Composing about 50% of coconut oil, lauric acid is considered an MCT, but behaves like a LCT because it must visit our liver before being turned into energy. This makes it less effective than many of the other MCT oils in terms of energy benefits; however, lauric acid has amazing antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral benefits.
While medium chain fatty acids do occur naturally in foods (such as coconut oil), MCT oil itself is not found in nature, which means it instead needs to be manufactured.
This is done by a machine that extracts all of the medium chain fatty acids from the source.
Unfortunately during this process, lauric acid is typically left behind, or can only be found in miniscule amounts – this is because lauric acid is technically a psudeo-MCT, so it won’t be found in most MCT oils.
Since oils marketed as “MCT oil” contain either a combination of Capric and Caprylic acid, or just concentrated Caprylic acid, they are a faster and more usable source of energy – since they often don’t contain Lauric Acid, which acts like a combination long chain and medium chain fatty acid in the body and slows digestion
Ketones easily cross the typically impenetrable blood-brain barrier and easily get into our brains.
Ketones from MCT Oil are a more efficient source of energy for our brain too. That is, it takes less work for our brain to energy from them than carbs.
The dominant fatty acid in coconut oil, on the other hand, is lauric acid, which comprises about 50% of the total fat content.
Coconut oil also contains a very nominal amount of Caproic Acid (C6), about 6% Caprylic Acid (C8) and about 10% Capric Acid (C10).
Lauric acid is most well-known for its antimicrobial properties, since it’s the precursor to monolaurin, a more powerful antimicrobial agent that is able to fight viruses and bacterial infections.
When lauric acid is digested, enzymes within the digestive tract form the valuable type of monoglyceride called monolaurin.
When lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, it essentially acts like a bacteria-killer. It has the ability to kill a wide range of harmful pathogen hosts in the body, making it an effective way to help treat or prevent infections, viruses, digestive disorders and chronic diseases. (1,3)
Studies have demonstrated that MCTs enhance thermogenesis and fat oxidation, thereby suppressing the deposition and accumulation of body fat
A 2015 meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials found that, compared to LCTs, MCTs more effectively decreased body weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, total body fat, total subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
There was no difference in blood lipid levels between the two fats.
MCTs are a superior brain fuel, converting to ketones within minutes of ingestion
In small-scale human trials, MCT supplementation boosted cognition in individuals with cognitive impairment and mild forms of Alzheimer’s disease after just a single dose
Ketones appear to be the preferred source of energy for the brain in people affected by diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases where certain neurons have become insulin resistant or have lost the ability to efficiently utilize glucose. As a result, neurons slowly die off.
1) Benefits of MCT Oil | Wellness Mama. (n.d.). Retrieved from
2) MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil – Which is Better? – Water for Health Blog: Promoting better health through hydration, nutrition and mindful eating. (n.d.). Retrieved from
3) Fight Acne and Infections with Lauric Acid – Dr. Axe. (n.d.). Retrieved from