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MCT Oil: Health Benefits and Common Uses

Green Shoppers Written by Green Shoppers
Updated on November 17, 2019

In the CBD industry, MCT oil holds a lot of weight. You’ll often see companies bragging about their use of MCT oil. What you might not be aware of is that MCT oil is also a stand-alone supplement; proponents swear that it has incredible health benefits if you take it often.

MCT oil is really popular in both the supplement industry and the CBD industry. But what makes MCT oil such a super supplement? Let’s find out.

What Is MCT Oil?

MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. An MCT oil is an oil made out of these medium-chain triglycerides, which are strings of fat. The shorter length of these chains allows MCTs to be more easily digested in comparison to other saturated fats.

Often, MCT oil is extracted from coconut oil. Over 50% of the fat in coconut oil is medium-chain triglycerides, making this a key source. However, MCTs are also found in palm oil and dairy products. Note that, despite the name, those with tree nut allergies will not be allergic to coconut oil – coconuts are actually fruits.

MCT oil, despite being a saturated fat, is said to be fairly good for you. Although doctors often recommend avoiding high quantities of saturated fats, the shorter chain length of MCTs allows them to be better digested than other saturated fats. In theory, they are safer, but you should still consume MCT oil in moderation.

As a supplement, users often add MCT oil to smoothies or use it as a salad dressing. But why would you use MCT oil in the first place?

Benefits of MCT Oil

MCT oil has several purported benefits. Some of the most widely discussed and researched are below.

Fuels Your Brain

The short chain length of MCTs allows them to travel straight to the liver. Long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) require to break down, making them harder to digest. When MCTs reach the liver, they are either broken down or stored in body fat.

When the MCTs are broken down, the body uses them as an energy source. Since the process happens so quickly, MCTs provide an immediate source of fuel for the body.

If you follow a ketogenic diet, the MCTs can be converted into ketones. These ketones can pass through the blood-brain barrier and be used to fuel the brain.

Reduces Lactate Build-up

Athletes may use MCT oil as a way to fight off lactate. The build-up of lactate can lead to pain and hindered performance. As mentioned above, using MCT can provide your body with more fuel, which is another benefit that MCT has for athletes.

In a study from 2009, researchers found that athletes who took 6g of MCTs before cycling had lower lactate levels compared to those who used LCTs. The jury is still out on whether MCTs can improve exercise in general, but indications that they could reduce lactate levels are encouraging.

Promotes Weight Loss

MCT could help with weight loss for several reasons. First of all, it encourages the release of two hormones: Peptide YY and leptin. These hormones make you feel fuller for longer, preventing you from reaching for the snack drawer.

Furthermore, MCT might be able to reduce weight and waist circumference. On average, MCT oil has 10% fewer calories than LCTs.

There is the possibility that it can also prevent fat storage. Since MCTs go straight to the liver and are broken down quickly, they are less likely to be stored as fat than their long-chain counterparts.

Together, these factors may encourage weight loss.

Battles Cholesterol

By helping to reduce weight, MCT oils may fight against cholesterol and heart disease. In a Canadian study from 2003, 24 overweight men took MCT oil combined with phytosterols and flaxseed for 29 days. By the end of the study, their total cholesterol was reduced by 12.5%

It’s also thought that MCT oil increases the production of high-density lipoprotein, sometimes called good cholesterol. On top of that, MCT oil might reduce quantities of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker that increases risk of heart disease.

All in all, MCT seems like a good way to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Fights Bacterial Growth

MCT oil could have antimicrobial and antifungal effects. Coconut oil itself has been shown to reduce the growth of Candida albicans, the yeast which causes thrush and a few skin infections. It can also reduce the growth of other bacteria.

MCT oils might be able to support a healthy gut environment by fighting against unhealthy yeast and bacteria.

Why is MCT Oil Used in CBD Products?

With all these purported benefits, it’s not hard to see why MCT oil is used as a food supplement in its own right. But why is it so often used in conjunction with CBD?

One way to look at it is that users are getting the health benefits of both compounds combined together. If you’re health-conscious, adding up all these benefits can only be a good thing. But there is actually another reason why manufacturers favour MCT oil.

Imagine you’re taking a sublingual CBD tincture. You drop the CBD-infused MCT oil under your tongue and hold it there for a minute or so. Blood vessels in the mouth allow the CBD to be rapidly absorbed and set to work in the endocannabinoid system. Then, you swallow the oil which contains the remainder of the unabsorbed CBD.

With shorter chains than other oils, MCT oil can quickly reach the liver where it is metabolised and broken down. As a result, the CBD is quickly processed and not much of it is lost.

This rapid process makes MCT oil more effective than other carrier oils when it comes to CBD. Manufacturers use it because it makes their CBD products much better for the consumer, who gets more bang for their buck.

Final Thoughts on MCT Oil

MCTs are potentially a great source of healthy fats. There are plenty of reported benefits that you could incur from taking a small dose of MCT oil each day. For example, MCT oil may promote weight loss, reduced cholesterol, and a healthy gut biome.

CBD manufacturers prefer MCT oil over other carrier oils. When you consider how MCT oil is digested, it becomes clear that it is the superior oil for CBD tinctures. In theory, using MCT oil as the carrier allows the maximum amount of CBD to be absorbed by the body, allowing for better health benefits.