MCT Oil (Liquid Coconut Oil): The Coconut Oil Dregs

by Sarah healthy fatsComments: 61

MCT oil and liquid coconut oil are a scam

If there is one truism in the world of food manufacturing, it is this:

If a particular whole food becomes popular with consumers, food manufacturers will figure out a way to adulterate and cleverly market it so that the average consumer is fooled into believing that this new fractionated food or supplement is as healthy or “better” than the original whole food when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

This adage very accurately applies to the much talked about MCT oil, also shrewdly marketed as liquid coconut oil. Both of these impostors have been popping up on healthfood store shelves as supplements or cooking oils, sometimes boldly marketed as “better than coconut oil”.

Why Coconut Oil is a Fat Superstar

Coconut oil in its unprocessed, unfractionated state is one of the healthiest fats on the planet having nourished degenerative disease free traditional cultures in Asia for centuries (1). What’s more, these cultures suffered from essentially no heart disease, rendering misguided accusations that coconut oil isn’t “heart healthy” as false and completely unsupportable with anthropological evidence.

Coconut oil is loaded with beneficial fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs or MCFAs (medium chain fatty acids) do not need to be digested by bile salts, which are secreted by the liver and stored by the gall bladder (hint: this is why coconut oil is a really good fat for those who’ve had gall bladder surgery) (2).

What’s more, MCTs are not typically stored by the body as fat like longer chain fats are. Instead, they are quickly converted to energy which makes them particularly suitable for weight loss.

Consumers have caught onto the benefits of coconut oil for weight loss and overall wellness in recent years, with a flurry of companies marketing virgin and expeller pressed versions for a variety of culinary uses.

However, some companies are marketing impostor products too trying to ride the wave of coconut oil popularity. Coconut oil processed into wannabes like MCT oil or liquid coconut oil becomes something else entirely, and for the consumer, it is definitely not for the better.

When I first saw liquid coconut oil on the shelf of my local healthfood store, I thought, “What in the world is this?  A coconut oil that stays liquid in the refrigerator and is “excellent” for cooking?”  I secretly wondered and knew that something fishy was going on.

Anyone familiar with coconut oil knows that it is a solid fat at temperatures below 76 F/ 24 C.  If the coconut oil stays liquid all the time, even in the cold temperatures of the refrigerator, something has been altered.

Similarly, I was receiving emails from readers who were using MCT oil, the supplement version of liquid coconut oil, instead of actual coconut oil for weight loss and other health purposes.

Things just didn’t seem on the up and up to me, so I started to sniff around ….

MCT Oil is the Dregs from Fractionated Coconut Oil

The dominant medium chain fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, comprising 50% of the total fat content. It is no exaggeration to call lauric acid a superstar of fats, as it has scientifically proven antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties (3). Our human digestion converts lauric acid into monolaurin which defends us against viruses, bacteria, parasites and other pathogens.  In short, lauric acid is a huge boon to the immune system.

Lauric acid is not only one of the healthiest fatty acids on the planet, it is highly elusive as well. Made only by the mammary gland in humans and available in small amounts in butterfat and significant amounts in palm kernel oil and coconut oil, this beneficial fat is not widely found in nature.

Here’s where the trouble comes in. People want lauric acid for the health benefits, but personal care manufacturers want it too for enhancing the quality of their products.

Isolated lauric acid functions as a skin conditioning agent. It is an inert and stable emollient used in creams, ointments, lotions, and lipsticks. Lauric acid slows the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface, alters the thickness of liquids acting as a viscosity controlling agent, and provides surface glide by promoting color dispersion in finished products. This is why lauric acid, the hugely beneficial, most healthful fat in coconut oil is removed and sold off for manufacturing purposes to personal care companies.

What’s left when the highly saturated lauric acid (and potentially a few other highly saturated fatty acids too depending on the manufacturer) with a melting point of 110F/ 43C is removed from coconut oil?  You guessed it: MCT oil, which is sold as a supplement and liquid coconut oil, sold for cooking. They are both the same thing, in essence the coconut oil “dregs”.

MCT Oil Manufacturing

Another problem with MCT oil and its cooking counterpart liquid coconut oil is how they are manufactured. Forcible removal of lauric acid from coconut oil is not an easy process. It typically requires chemical recombination of refined fatty acids in coconut oil with a synthetic vegetable based ester. Chemical residues in the resulting MCT oil would be a definite concern as a result.

A more natural process is molecular distillation of virgin coconut oil, which involves no chemicals and is a physical process only. While MCT oil manufactured in this manner would be nontoxic and safe to consume, it is important to note that MCT or liquid coconut oil is not found anywhere in nature, and as such, regular consumption would have unknown health consequences.

To obtain the full health and weight loss benefits of MCTs in the proper proportions as found in nature, you need to consume virgin coconut oil, and if you need one with no taste, expeller pressed coconut oil.

Liquid Coconut Oil Not as Good for Cooking as Coconut Oil

The reason I suspect that liquid coconut oil is marketed as better than coconut oil as a cooking fat is because it stays liquid even when refrigerated. However, while this is better for convenience, it is not better from a health perspective especially considering that coconut oil itself doesn’t need to be refrigerated due to a high resistance to rancidity even in very hot climes. For example, I keep a 5 gallon bucket of coconut oil in my garage which regularly gets over 100 F/28 C during summer days, and it keeps perfectly for months on end (it usually takes me about 18 months to use the whole bucket).

Note also that the most beneficial and elusive fat of all in coconut oil, lauric acid, is completely absent from liquid coconut oil. What’s primarily left are two saturated fatty acids, caprylic acid and capric acid, that are easily found in dairy foods, particularly goats milk and cheese.

The other fats remaining in MCT oil/liquid coconut oil after the high melting point fats like lauric acid are removed are oleic acid (the primary fat in olive oil) and linoleic acid found in vegetable oils.

While oleic acid is heat stable and fine for cooking, linoleic acid definitely is not!

Essentially then, when lauric acid and potentially other high melting point saturated fatty acids are removed from coconut oil, the resulting liquid coconut oil is not ideal at all for cooking. It is a far worse choice than virgin or expeller pressed coconut oil because it contains a much larger percentage of heat unstable fats. What’s more, the longer chain fats, linoleic acid and oleic acid, actually encourage weight gain, not weight loss (4).

Would liquid coconut oil be a better choice than vegetable oils? In that case, I would agree. Vegetable oils like soy, corn and even canola would be far worse choices for cooking than liquid coconut oil. But when compared with true blue coconut oil, the scammy “liquid” versions pale by comparison.

Do yourself a favor, if you want to experience the benefits of coconut oil for cooking or weight loss, use the real thing and skip the cleverly marketed liquid coconut oil versions.

Here’s where I buy my coconut oil in case you’d like to compare brands.

MCT Oil and Liquid Coconut Oil Aren’t Cheap!

As if not being as good as real coconut oil isn’t enough, food manufacturers have the gall to charge a fortune for MCT oil and liquid coconut oil, sometimes with a price tag higher than a quality jar of virgin coconut oil itself!

For example, I recently compared a very popular brand that markets both virgin coconut oil and liquid coconut oil. The virgin coconut oil cost $19.99 for a 32 oz (.95 l) jar, while the liquid coconut oil shockingly cost $23.99 for only 20 oz (.59 l).

MCT Oil is similarly priced, at or higher than the same amount of real, authentic virgin coconut oil.

You get the dregs and pay more for the “privilege”.

What about MCT Oil with Lauric Acid?

While most MCT oil on the market has no lauric acid whatsoever, I have seen some brands of MCT oil recently where there is some lauric acid present. This means that only some of the lauric acid was removed (and sold off for industrialized purposes). The lauric acid amount present is not at the same high percentage as in unadulterated coconut oil, however.

If you remember the discussion from above, virgin and expeller pressed coconut oil are approximately 50% lauric acid. MCT oil with lauric acid contains far less. The highest I’ve seen to date is 30% with some brands not stating how much lauric acid is present at all!  One thing is for sure, if the MCT oil or liquid coconut oil stays fluid in the refrigerator, it doesn’t have much lauric acid in it. Also remember the problem with chemical residues in MCT oil if it wasn’t extracted using a physical process only.

The bottom line is that MCT oil is a factory fat.  It doesn’t occur naturally in nature and using it regularly won’t produce the health benefits and weight loss results of using the real thing: coconut oil.

Isn’t MCT Oil Best for Alzheimer’s?

There’s been quite a bit of buzz in recent years surrounding MCT oil, and its application in Alzheimer’s reversal. While it is true that MCTs are the active ingredient in Axona, a popular drug for those with Alzheimer’s Disease, it is highly doubtful that MCTs are better than virgin coconut oil (VCO) on its own.

Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Stop Alzheimer’s Now, recommends VCO instead of MCT oil or MCT drugs such as Axona because the drugs become ineffective over time, wear off quickly, have side effects and cause free radical damage to the cells. And, MCT oil on its own is an adulterated, inferior form of coconut oil.

When the MCTs in virgin coconut oil are converted into ketones they act as a super fuel for the brain. This super fuel provides energy to the brain as well as stimulates healing and repair.

And, don’t forget.  Lauric acid is the most beneficial MCT of all and yet is absent in most MCT oil brands on the market or in significantly reduced amounts.

Go for the real thing and you won’t ever be disappointed down the road that clever marketing has somehow cost you your health or failed to produce the wellness results you seek.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

 

Sources and More Information

MCT Oil Manufacture

Eat Fat Lose Fat

Coconut Oil Capsules: As Effective as Straight Up?

How to Use Coconut Oil for Weight Loss

When Coconut Oil May Not Be Right for You

Why Buying Coconut Oil at Costco is Risky Business

Why Bulletproof Coffee Shoots You in the Foot

Comments (61)

  • TRUTH

    So what manufacture makes the best coconut oil with the greatest benefits?

    May 12th, 2016 3:17 am Reply
  • Chrissie

    I also like whole coconut oil which contains: all three medium chain fatty acids caprylic, capric and lauric acids; the long chain saturated FAs myristic, palmitic, and stearic; and long chain monounsaturated oleic acid and polyunsaturated linoleic acid. However, your characterization of MCT oils is incorrect. They are usually 75% caprylic and 25% capric acid, never oleic or linoleic, which are long chain. Capric and caprylic acid share many of the same antimicrobial and ketogenic health benefits of lauric acid and are preferred because they are shorter (caprylic is 8 carbons, capric is 10, and lauric is 12) thus having lower melting points and staying liquid at lower temperatures. They are also believed to be even easier to be used directly for energy, however all three MCFAs are known to posses this property and do not require carnitine for transport into the mitochondria.
    I can’t speak to the liquid coconut oil for cooking which may have long chain mono and polyunsaturated fats but an MCT oil should never have these as they are long chain unsaturated fats. I know Bulletproof’s MCT oils are capric and/or caprylic.
    A great resource for delving deep into dietary fats and metabolism is “Know Your Fats” by Mary G. Enig.

    March 19th, 2016 5:24 pm Reply
  • Leo

    Dodecanioc acid is an MCFA not a an MCT. MCTs are generally dietarily better than dodecanioc acid in that they are readily digestible and metabolize quickly (much like sugar but without the adverse effects) without also irritating your large intestine. While you are correct that MCT oil is not whole coconut oil, it is made from coconut oil via a physical process meaning that it is unadulterated and no external chemicals are added to it. Please note that none of this is opinion. Now you are correct to say that MCT oil doesnt posses the same health benefits as whole coconut oil, but that is not to say that it doesn’t have dietary applications in which it outshines it.

    February 11th, 2016 9:01 pm Reply
  • Scott

    I didn’t read any real convincing information Of MCT oil being a bad thing.

    It’s was said the MCT oils are not found naturally in nature, well, coconut oil is a process too and doesn’t occur naturally too. The natural source would be to eat the whole coconut flesh – contradiction

    It was said the Coconut oil is MCT oil. The carbon chain 12 Lauric acid is a long chain. It was considered medium chain prio to the 70’s but later discovered it was indeed long chain. This means it needs the aid of the gallbladder and could be stored as fat in the body. Having liquid MCT and coconut oil together at different times is in my mind a fine idea. They are both processed oils. Besides, good wine is a process and doesn’t exist naturally in nature, more does cooking our food and combining agrediants to make nice dishes.

    Good high grade MCT oils have been developed by folks who were interested in marketing oils great for fat loss through the Ketone pathway. Lauric acid dose not use this pathway, so creating an oil for this pathway was clever move. Using the keystone pathway creates faster availed energy and mental clarity. Take that even further and you can use a even more refined oil of Caprylic Acid C8 know for fueling the brain. It’s 18x of what you would find in coconut oil, meaning you get more for the amount for particular goals.

    The above article seems to be based more on option than science, so let the choice be yours. As the market grows beware of where the oils come from. Palm oils are a controversial market and the ethics of manufacturers should be considered.

    February 10th, 2016 2:51 pm Reply
  • Sarah Gonzales

    Hi Sarah,

    I think your article is unbalanced. Good quality MCT oil has benefits. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE virgin coconut oil and use it in place of most kitchen / healhcare oils. However as someone who lives a ketogenic lifestyle, I prefer the 8 and 10 chain triglycerides as they bypass the liver to metabolise much more swiftly as energy. Lauric acid must pass through the liver on its pathway which, if you want a fast energy hit without hitting the sugar, isn’t always the best. I do absolutely agree with you that Lauric acid is wonderful – but MCT oil is not always the dregs. It’s also much much harder to discern the “quality” suppliers of MCT oil.

    February 3rd, 2016 4:08 am Reply
  • Sadie

    I have a metabolic disorder which means I can’t absorb my very long chain fatty acid, to help me live a normal life I am prescribed various forms of mct (both oil and powder form) to have daily in my diet, whilst it may not work for everyone please don’t dismiss something so easily that for some of us is literally a life saving product. Without mct in my diet I am at a massive risk of rhabdomyolisis, or to put it bluntly my body will eat my own muscles and organs to obtain energy, the resulting toxins in my blood can (and have) caused my kidneys to fail. So for all of you saying mct isn’t that great and it’s an imposter, for some of us it’s better than a neckline taking your blood through a dialysis machine. Like I said it’s not for everyone and it won’t have health benefits for everyone, but for those of us who need it’s a life saver.

    January 30th, 2016 6:50 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Lauric acid is a short chain fatty acid, so even you should be able to tolerate the real thing in the form of coconut oil and don’t need to resort to the fake MCT oil (which has the most beneficial short chain fat of all .. lauric acid .. removed in total or in part). If you have a reaction to coconut oil, it isn’t from your long chain fatty acid problem, it is likely due to the incredible detoxification that lauric acid triggers in the body .. simply start small and work your way up. Don’t give up and settle for the MCT oil dregs.

      January 31st, 2016 9:00 am Reply
  • Oliver

    Thanks for writing such a succinct yet detailed article Sarah. This is exactly what I was looking for while researching how to add bulletproof coffee to my diet while avoiding hyped ingredients. As expected, the age old adage appears true once again: eat whole foods where possible because they are recognised by the body, cheaper and less likely to be over concentrated. I will be blogging about butter-fed coffee at goneworkabout.com shortly and will reference this article. Thanks again and in case it helps, I’ve decided on this daily recipe; Locally roasted fairtrade coffee (ground), a Montbell O.D. dripper (re-usable drip filter), local organic butter, organic coconut oil (expeller pressed), cinammon (ground), an aeropress and a ceramic double-walled mug.

    December 23rd, 2015 6:39 am Reply
  • Amy

    Sarah, a genuinely concerned reply:
    I’m very surprised there was no mention of caprylic acid (C8) or capric acid (C10) in this article.
    Also in regards to the idea of a more “refined” product being cautiously avoided, I understand the reaction. However I find essential oils to be equally as refined as distilled MCT oil. In short, where do we draw the line? Clothing certainly doesn’t appear all the natural, and yet we need it to survive. I consider humans to be stewards of nature that must listen to her and keep a balanced hand. “Whole foods” seems an abused term to be, I find “balanced foods” a better one.

    I’m pretty sure you understand what I’m trying to say. While I would applaud your skepticism of “liquid coconut oil” I would also challenge you to approach this product more like you think of cod liver oil – countless inferior products, very few acceptable offerings. It could be all about the process, do they properly extract the MCTs, or are they sloppy? I believe there are some things that were meant to be refined, refining is found in nature, in the body, in bee hives and ant colonies. Lauric acid is wonderful, just as codfish is a healthful fish to eat. But perhaps there is a hidden wonder in those caprylic and capric triglycerides. The whole point of MCT oil is to concentrate the MCTs. I have heard that inferior MCT oils have Lauric acid still in them, and have a much less concentration of MCTs… but they charge the same expensive price! Those companies are basically selling you slightly altered coconut oil at exorbitant prices.

    Really, at some point we have got to put our ice cold logic hats on. Is all refinement bad? No(All oils are separated from their fruits, aka refined) Are all products made of byproducts evil? No (whey is a byproduct).

    Simply put, Coconut oil and GOOD MCT oil have different purposes. Just like cod fish and fermented cod liver oil do. Just like oregano and oregano essential oil. So your skepticism is a great place to start, but please don’t stay there by default.

    Anyways, it feels weird to be this critical, and I have much admiration for you. But I think you need an attitude adjustment because the logic needs balance.

    December 13th, 2015 1:08 am Reply
  • Lobo Rojo

    “it is important to note that MCT or liquid coconut oil is not found anywhere in nature”

    That’s like saying that apple juice isn’t found anywhere in nature. It’s ridiculous. Apple juice is an apple minus everything except the juice. Liquid coconut oil is coconut oil minus the lauric acid. The same thing is true of MCT oil. It’s a one piece of a larger thing. According to your reasoning, virgin coconut oil doesn’t exist in nature either, because you’ve removed all of the other parts of the coconut. Looking through the recipes on your page (some excellent ones, for sure), I see things that “don’t exist in nature.” Like vanilla extract. And butter.

    “Lauric acid is the most beneficial MCT of all”

    Lauric acid is basically good stuff, but it’s not “the most beneficial” because the different fats have different pros and cons, and one fat that’s desired by some may be contraindicated for others. Those other fats are very good for you, too. There is ample research demonstrating their health benefits, including their use for weight loss. And there are good reasons people may want to get those other MCTs while avoiding lauric acid, not to mention the ability to consume it in liquid form at below room temperature.

    “lauric acid a superstar of fats, as it has scientifically proven antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties”

    Science is definitely good stuff.

    “Chemical residues in the resulting MCT oil would be a definite concern as a result.”

    Not really. Chemical residue is rare, and even when detected by testing, it is in such minute quantities that you’d have to consume impossible amounts of the product to notice any ill-effects. Now, doing something like putting gasoline into your car? That’s something you may want to stop doing, if you’re trying to avoid chemicals.

    August 29th, 2015 7:17 pm Reply
  • Shaw

    MCT’s have numerous benefits that so I wouldn’t be quick to throw it under the bus! Straight from Mark Sisson over at Mark’s Daily Apple who provides links to the research that support his points. And he provides research to back up these claims.

    marksdailyapple.com/paleo-primal-beer-and-liquid-coconut-oil/

    “Coconut oils are liquidized by removing the long chain fatty acids and leaving the medium chain triglycerides. The removal process is entirely physical and uses no chemicals or solvents. No mutant fats are created, and the medium chain triglycerides remain intact and unaffected. This is similar to MCT oil, which is usually made from a combination of coconut and palm kernel oils. MCTs have a number of benefits:
    They require less bile acid to digest, so people with impaired fat digestion can digest them more easily than longer-chained fats. MCTs actually increase the ability of a person to oxidize longer chained fats, too, making them especially useful for improving an impaired fat digestion (as well as burning body fat).
    They are converted readily into ketones regardless of the carbohydrate content of the diet, so people on a ketogenic diet can use MCTs to generate ketone bodies without having to eliminate most of their plant foods. If you know someone – a grandparent, perhaps – who could probably use some ketones in their lives for the cognitive benefits, it’s a lot easier to slip some MCTs into their morning coffee than it is to get them to switch to a ketogenic diet.
    They increase the metabolic rate, an effect that persists for about a week after ingestion.
    They seem to have beneficial effects on lipid and metabolic profiles. For instance, in men with high triglycerides, MCT-feeding improves blood lipids and reduces abdominal and overall body fat, and in type 2 diabetics, MCTs improve insulin sensitivity.”

    August 1st, 2015 11:32 pm Reply
  • Elian

    Hi Sarah, greetings from France!

    I was wondering, is Wilderness Family Naturals organic expeller pressed coconut oil the best/healthiest choice that I can get for sautéeing and panfrying?

    Thanks!

    August 1st, 2015 10:31 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      That is a very good brand that I use myself. I love it.

      August 1st, 2015 10:39 am Reply
  • Hannah

    I started to wonder when a sticker on the top of the MCT I got on Amazon said that it’s known to cause birth defects.

    July 3rd, 2015 12:08 pm Reply
  • Sheila

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been wondering about the liquid coconut oil I’ve seen at the store. I figured something wasn’t quite right since coconut oil is solid. This is the first time I’ve seen this product addressed.

    July 2nd, 2015 3:12 pm Reply
  • ashlee

    Do you think the liquid coconut oil is still beneficial fur skin care and oil pulling?

    June 8th, 2015 8:04 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Sure, it’s fine for those purposes … just very overpriced and not as beneficial as the good stuff .. virgin coconut oil.

      June 9th, 2015 11:48 am Reply
  • Laurie S

    So what should I do with my MCT oil that I have? If you say that it is slightly better than Canola Oil, I only use that oil for popping popcorn – is it OK for that usage? Or perhaps I should only use it to bake my dogs treats? Ugh… just wasted $25. :0(

    June 8th, 2015 3:47 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Use it up as you like. Popcorn sounds like a good idea. Just get the real thing next time .. 100% unadulterated virgin coconut oil :)

      June 8th, 2015 7:03 pm Reply
  • Chris

    To claim coconut oil is a whole food while MCT oil is not is not very accurate. The processing steps required to extract coconut oil from coconut meat are far greater then to get from coconut oil to MCT. If your aim is to consume whole foods you certainly should avoid coconut oil altogether and stick to eating coconut itself.

    June 8th, 2015 1:56 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Would like to see your references for this claim? Coconut oil is very easily extracted from the meat. Traditional cultures have done it for centuries with no factories … just hand presses and the like. Did you see the reference in the article as to how MCT oil is produced? Not so simple. You’re also not considering that MCT oil is not a whole food and coconut oil absolutely is. MCT oil is a fractionated fat.

      June 8th, 2015 2:13 pm Reply
  • Janine

    Thank you for the research – I too was “pulled in” by all the hype, but when I did my elementary research, non of the information made sense. I too bought the product on the right to make the bulletproof coffee, I quickly realized that I just simply did not like the bulletproof style coffee, so I am sticking to black coffee… My next question is that I do use and love my essential oils, so I figured I could use up that huge 32oz in my DIY essential oil beautyskin recipes…, in your opinion would it be ok to just use up? and then not buy official “fractionated coconut oil” at all the future? For the skin and body products what would you recommend as a carrier oil, while I do like the smell of coconut, I do not want it to overpower some of the scents of my essential oils. Thank you for an follow up answer!

    June 8th, 2015 12:53 pm Reply
  • Hans

    If you want to attack those who market MCT oils, maybe you should address their claims, i. e. that lauric acid is not a true MCT oil concerning the way it is metabolized by the body: While C-6, C-8 and C-10 fatty acids do not require digestion via bile salts, C-12 fatty acid (= lauric acid) does, which means it is metabolized like an LCT and not like an MCT. Since coconut oil contains a lot of C-12, but very little C-6, C-8 and C-10 fatty acids, it does not have the digestive benefits of an MCT oil.

    Also, lauric acid gives many people digestive problems of its own, i.e. diarrhea, which severly limits the amount of coconut oil one can take in, and therefore the amount of true MCTs that can be consumed when taking coconut oil remains very, very small.

    It follows that for a person with fat-digestion issues, coconut oil is not helpful at all, while MCT oil is.

    When reading the abstracts to the studies linked on wikipedia, I found that two of three defined MCTs as C-6 through C-10 fatty acids, and only one included C-12 fatty acids. Interesting.

    April 19th, 2015 10:25 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Your comment is pure opinion and has no factual basis. Lauric acid is the BEST and MOST BENEFICIAL MCT oil … to suggest that it isn’t even an MCT oil at all is simply marketing hooey to try and sell substandard MCT oil products and make a bundle on people’s ignorance of the subject. People who have problems with coconut oil simply need to start with small amounts and work their way up. I’ve seen this conservative approach work many, many times.

      MCT oil isn’t even mentioned in the book Eat Fat, Lose Fat because fat guru and co-author Dr. Mary Enig considered it a substandard, industrialized oil that was in no way an adequate or healthy substitution for coconut oil.

      April 19th, 2015 12:57 pm Reply
      • Walter

        “In some patients, adding fat in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), may be helpful. Medium chain triglycerides of 8 to 10 carbons long are easier to metabolize (turn into energy) than the longer chain triglycerides (those with 12-18 carbons) because they do not require carnitine to be transported into the mitochondria. MCT Oil© is mainly made of 8 and 10 carbon triglycerides and this type of oil does not occur in nature, but is made from coconut oil. MCT Oil© is made by the baby formula company Mead-Johnson. It comes in quart bottles, available by prescription and runs about $70 a quart. It can be added like oil over pasta and rice. You can cook with it, but this is a light oil and burns easily. The special rules are explained in a recipe book that you can request from the pharmacist. Depending on the situation, a patient may benefit from a few teaspoons to a few tablespoons a day. There are oils sold in health food stores called “MCT Oil” or “medium chain triglyceride oil”. These are much less expensive ($25 per quart), but make sure there is a certified analysis on the label, stating that the vast majority of the oil is C-8 and C-1 0 (and not C-12 or higher).”

        June 8th, 2015 1:24 pm Reply
  • Allie

    where do you get 5-gallon buckets of coconut oil?

    March 24th, 2015 8:34 pm Reply
  • David

    There was a time when I really used to like the WAPF…

    I use MCT and I use coconut oil (plenty of it) I mix the two together and add some ghee (not exactly whole milk or butter either).

    I’ve been doing this for years and I’m in excellent health. I see no reason for change…just because OMG, they left out lauric acid..

    March 24th, 2015 3:00 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Lauric acid is the most beneficial MCT of all being highly antimicrobial and best for gut health and weight loss! You can’t get it in hardly any foods!

      I’m glad you are using VCO, but many people sucked in by sexy MCT oil marketing are not. You would be better off just using more VCO and eliminating the cheap, processed MCT oil.

      March 24th, 2015 3:05 pm Reply
  • Fehmina

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for a great post on MCT oil. I thought it was same as coconut oil but without the coconutty taste and bought it. What do you recommend I can use it for? Will it work in skin creams and lip balms?

    March 24th, 2015 1:51 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Double check that the MCT oil you bought was not manufactured using chemicals. If it was not (using molecular distillation instead which is ok), then use it for whatever you like … just don’t be fooled that it is better than VCO. If you want VCO without the taste, buy expeller pressed coconut oil, not MCT oil.

      March 24th, 2015 3:08 pm Reply
  • Cindy Freeman

    I don’t know if I missed something in your article above or not, or if the picture is unfortunate, but I emailed the NOW company (which the container on the right looks like it is from) and this is the response I received: I reviewed the flow chart for MCT oil production. There is no indication of chemicals used in production. It is the highest quality USP grade derived from coconut or palm kernel oil. Regards,

    Jim Golick CCN, LDN

    March 24th, 2015 12:50 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Oh my! Even if molecular distillation was used, the MCT oil is still the dregs! Please read the article for the many ways MCT oil falls short, not just in manufacturing.

      March 24th, 2015 3:09 pm Reply
  • Shari

    What are your thoughts on fractionated coconut oil that I see so many essential oil companies selling to use as a carrier oil?

    March 22nd, 2015 7:28 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      That’s probably fine if you want to buy it, just double check that the fractionated coconut oil was not manufactured with chemicals. It should be manufactured using molecular distillation. I personally would just use virgin coconut oil instead. Why even bother buying it and spending the money when you probably already have VCO sitting in your pantry?

      March 22nd, 2015 8:27 am Reply
  • drew

    Very different metabolic responses and uses for the two separate products. Whole coconut oil as a whole food is wonderful and exactly that, a food. Comparing the two is like comparing willow bark to aspirin. One is vaguely useful and healthful in its whole form, but much more useful in direct ways via concentration of key elements. While some may market it as a broad improvement over coconut oil, the two are as similar as comparing 87 pump gas with jet fuel. It’s health benefits are numerous and proven, it just needs to be used with purpose and intelligence.

    March 22nd, 2015 3:11 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Coconut oil “vaguely useful and healthful in its whole form” Is this a serious comment? And “much more useful via concentration of its key elements”. How can a whole food like coconut oil be “more useful” when the BEST and MOST HEALTH ENHANCING part of it (lauric acid) has been stripped away? I think its sad when folks put their faith in factory processing over Mother Nature.

      March 22nd, 2015 8:30 am Reply
    • Vinia O. Marquez

      I have to agree: I prefer virgin coconut oil but MCT has some specific usage and not because it is a by-product of extracting lauric fatty acids. The term liquid coconut oil is a marketing term and MCT should not be used for cooking. There are several types/class of MCTS for different purposes. Also the term “molecular distillation” is not actually a term in production and processing but maybe started by marketing/communication departments of the MCT companies. They do that for easier understanding of the media and the public.

      May 13th, 2015 10:41 pm Reply
  • Justin from Extreme Health Radio

    Thank you Sarah for putting so much work into an informative well researched article like this with all those references. I know how much time it takes. This is pure gold. I can speak for everyone, your work IS very much appreciated. :)

    March 22nd, 2015 1:55 am Reply
  • chantelle | naked cuisine

    Thank you! I’ve been wondering about MCT oil and if its truly superior to coconut. Had a hunch it wasn’t, like most things processed.

    March 21st, 2015 8:56 pm Reply
  • Ally @OmNomAlly

    Thanks for a great read, I’ve never understood the craze of MCT oil when coconut oil is already wholesome and fabulous in it’s myriad of uses. You cleared up a lot of questions I had :)

    March 21st, 2015 8:02 pm Reply
  • Terrell

    I had the same suspicions when I saw liquid coconut oil in my market. But I had not included MCT oil in those suspicions because of all the positive things I had read about it.Thank you for doing the research and revealing what’s really going on with the product.

    March 21st, 2015 12:19 pm Reply
  • RCA Las Vegas

    Thanks for this reminder on whole foods being the best, Sarah. I had gotten into the MCT thing recently and will return to real coconut oil again. I should have known that it was a marketing ploy to use up the waste from cosmetic industry use of lauric acid. For those who can’t tolerate real coconut oil, it does take time but you’ll adjust; in the meantime use a lipase supplement or, as Sarah suggests, bitters.

    March 21st, 2015 12:16 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Whole foods are low key and nondescript … and hard to make huge profits on because you can’t patent the processing or the product itself … fractionated foods are a profit gold mine which makes them prime for advertising dollars and sexy marketing. Easy to fall for those tactics if you’re not careful.

      March 21st, 2015 1:39 pm Reply
  • KarenLA

    David Aubrey, the Bullet Proof Coffee guy says MCT oil is more potent than regular coconut oil. He has done his own research. While I don’t always agree with him, I’d like to hear his response to your stand against it. Usually I’m in your court, however, my 84 yr-old mother started drinking MCT oil with her caffeinated coffee, as did I and both of us commented on how it improved our memory. We both tried high quality coconut oil and couldn’t tolerate it. When my Mom went to visit my brother out of state, she didn’t take her MCT oil and noticed a major deterioration in her cognitive process after a week. She returned home, started with the MCT oil and she is back to her sassy self. While I like the whole and natural, I’m on the fence with this.

    March 21st, 2015 1:37 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      If it’s working for you, stay with it then! But, I would check on how that MCT oil is manufactured .. hopefully not with chemicals.

      I would try virgin coconut oil again though, instead of a factory fat like MCT oil. Many people have to start slow and work up to a full amount desired due to its higher potency with the full 50% lauric acid and nutritional cofactors still present. You’ll adjust, go slow and be patient.

      March 21st, 2015 9:33 am Reply
  • Kira

    I buy MCT oil from Bulletproof web-site bcs I hope that Dave A. is not going to make such a big deal out of the “cleanliness” of his products ant then allow for contamination. BTW, that’s the ONLY product that I buy there;-) Here is a question: I use a tbsp of MCT oil with my heavier meals that already have enough fat in them (like lamb chops and potatoes for example) bcs I notice that it feels lighter and digests easier…any idea why would that be?

    March 20th, 2015 11:30 pm Reply
  • Michelle

    Sarah,

    Thanks for your excellent research on this! I wondered about MCT Oil and others had asked my opinion on this subject. I never had an answer until now.

    Michelle

    March 20th, 2015 6:55 pm Reply
  • Debby G

    Are there any reputable manufacturers of MCT oil on the market?

    Thanks
    D

    March 20th, 2015 5:53 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Since MCT oil would always be factory produced and totally unnatural, I wouldn’t buy it from any company. Virgin coconut oil is the way to go (and expeller pressed coconut oil if you don’t like the mild taste of coconut).

      March 20th, 2015 6:15 pm Reply
  • Jena

    I always had a suspicion about liquid coconut oil. Thank you for again confirming my thoughts. Your posts are wonderful! Keep up the hard work

    March 20th, 2015 3:18 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Thank you Jena. You know, when I first noticed liquid coconut oil at the healthfood store, it was not very prominent on the shelf and the price was pretty cheap – around $12 for a 20 oz bottle as I recall. Then, when I was doing the research for this post and was looking at prices again recently, I noticed that the amount on the shelf had doubled, it was in a more prominent position on the shelf in the cooking oil section, and the price had skyrocketed to $23.99 for the same size bottle! Obviously, demand is increasing for this factory fat which is not good if these folks think they are getting the benefits of whole coconut oil when they are not.

      March 20th, 2015 3:32 pm Reply
  • David Eagen

    What about coconut milk?

    March 20th, 2015 3:00 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Whole coconut milk is fine … this is a wonderful food *not* fractionated and split into components to sell it off in pieces and maximize profits like MCT oil. I would make my own if at all possible but if not, there are some organic brands that are wonderful to buy … I list some on my Resources page if you are interested. http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/resources/#coconut

      March 20th, 2015 3:19 pm Reply
  • Dave

    Not that i plan to ingest it as a supplement. Would it be benign enough to use as a toothpaste base?

    March 20th, 2015 1:31 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Sure … that would be great use for it! Ingest only the best though … coconut oil in its whole form :)

      March 20th, 2015 3:21 pm Reply
      • Sarah Pope

        On second thought Dave, why don’t you give a quick call to the manufacturer of your MCT oil and double check that it was processed using molecular distillation and not using chemicals. Chemicals are easily absorbed into the blood through thin gum tissue.

        March 20th, 2015 3:24 pm Reply
  • Ryan

    My girlfriend and I suspected something was up with MCT oil. Thanks for confirming our suspicions, Sarah. We always opt for the whole food found in nature and nature has yet to let us down.

    March 20th, 2015 12:34 pm Reply
  • norman h walker

    Point well argued and articulated . Convincing.

    March 20th, 2015 12:00 pm Reply
  • Dianne

    “If there is one truism in the world of food manufacturing, it is this…” Ain’t it the truth? As the comedians say, “Wait for it!”

    March 20th, 2015 11:19 am Reply
  • Meag

    Thank you for this post. When “Bullet Proof Coffee” became a huge hit I started seeing bloggers and consumers saying you could only use MCT Oil and my gut told me this wasn’t right. They made it seem like Organic Coconut Oil wasn’t good enough…which is ridiculous.

    March 20th, 2015 11:04 am Reply

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