Is the Hype Around MCT Oil Supported by Scientific Evidence for Its Alleged Health Benefits?

“In a world where dietary supplements promise an array of benefits, from enhanced sleep to sharper vision, MCT oil often takes the spotlight, touted for its myriad health advantages.

Once championed mainly by bodybuilders and niche fitness enthusiasts, this supplement has stepped into the mainstream, even captivating celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Alicia Vikander, and Emma Stone.

However, despite its surge in popularity, many of MCT oil’s alleged health benefits lack solid scientific foundations, and some lack support altogether. Moreover, experts elucidate why this supplement might not be suitable for everyone.

Understanding MCT Oil MCT, short for medium-chain triglycerides, are dietary fats naturally found in foods like coconut oil, palm oil, and select dairy products such as butter, cheese, yogurt, and cow’s or goat’s milk. MCT oil, derived from sources like “coconut and palm kernel,” consists of these fatty acids, refined into a clear liquid, explains Caroline Susie, RD, a registered dietitian and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. MCT oil stands out due to its smaller molecular size, which aids in digestion. Unlike other fats that traverse a complex path in the body, smaller MCT molecules can directly journey to the liver for processing. “This property allows MCT oil to be medically useful as its fats can be readily absorbed by the body,” notes Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian based in Virginia and author of ‘Prediabetes: A Complete Guide.’

While medium-chain triglycerides can be sourced from aforementioned foods, MCT oil is commonly ingested as a supplement in liquid or powder form. It finds its way into coffee, smoothies, and even salad dressings. Additionally, it’s occasionally applied topically for moisturizing dry skin.

Unpacking MCT Oil’s Effects MCT oil’s potential benefits span enhanced cholesterol levels, reduced inflammation, heightened athletic performance, improved brain health, and lowered diabetes risk. However, research substantiating these claims is often lacking. MCT oil garners attention for weight management due to its connection to feelings of satiety and reduced appetite, but concrete scientific evidence in this regard remains limited. Weisenberger points out, “Only small studies have shown minimal benefits for weight management.”

Another explored aspect is MCT oil’s role as an energy booster. Susie notes that research also hints at its potential to enhance physical strength. However, these assertions demand further investigation.

Who Should Approach MCT Oil with Caution?

While incorporating modest amounts of MCT oil into one’s diet is generally safe for healthy individuals, certain groups should exercise caution. Weisenberger advises against MCT oil supplementation for individuals with heart conditions or fatty liver disease. Despite their distinct properties, medium-chain triglycerides are fats, and MCT oil boasts a high caloric content, approximately 120 calories per tablespoon. She emphasizes that even for those in good health contemplating MCT oil use, “It’s wise to consult your physician before introducing any new supplements.”

Determining the Healthiest Cooking Oil Though various oils offer merits, two stand out as potential contenders.”

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