What Is MCT Oil
MCT Oil is a special kind of beneficial fat that is easy for our body, namely our liver, to process. MCT is short for Medium Chain Triglycerides. In recent years, MCT oil has grown to be quite popular in the health community due to its great versatility, especially with fat soluble compounds like cannabinoids.
According to Biology Online, a triglyceride is: An energy-rich compound made up of a single molecule of glycerol and three molecules of fatty acid, and serves as a major component of animal and plant oils and fats.
There are three branches of fatty acids. In the image (courtesy of Jü, CC BY-SA 4.0), an example of the molecular structural formula with caprylic acid (blue) and capric acid (red).
There are four types of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs): Caproic Acid (C6), Caprylic Acid (C8), Capric Acid (C10), and Lauric Acid (C12). The letter C and the number notate how many carbon molecules are found along those branches in an MCT oil.
Where Does MCT Oil Come From?
By far the most common source of MCT oil comes from coconuts. Coconut oil is comprised of over 50% is one of the four MCFA’s listed above. Specifically coconut oil contains 42% lauric acid, 7% caprylic acid, and 5% capric acid. The rest of the oils found in coconut oil are called long chain triglycerides. Those are a little more difficult for our bodies to process, and are not a part of MCT oils used in supplements unless otherwise specified.
Another plant source rich in MCTs is Palm Kernel Oil. Palm kernel oil is predominantly comprised of lauric acid at roughly 48%. Medium chain triglycerides sourced from palm kernels have been the subject of heavy scrutiny in recent times. The reason for that is due to the unsustainable practices, namely the destruction of the rain forest in countries that grow these palm trees to produce palm oil.
What Is MCT Oil Used For?
MCT oil is widely used as both a supplement by itself as well as a base carrier oil for many products on the market today. It has a variety of potential health benefits for those who consume it.
“MCT oil increases energy, endurance, metabolism, satiety and brain function, especially when compared to other forms of fat, including olive oil,” according to Kelly Schmidt, RD, author of “What’s the Deal With Paleo and Primal Eating?”
MCTs force your body to burn fat. Your body takes the MCT oil and produces ketones from it. Ketones are an alternate form of energy that is made in your liver and output into your bloodstream for use by your muscles and brain. These boost your metabolism, causing your body to ‘burn’ fat. Weight loss through the loss of body fat may be a side effect of using MCT oil to supplement your healthy lifestyle.
MCTs also help you feel more full for longer. Again, ketones are at play here, as they help suppress the hunger hormone called ghrellin, and boost the hormone cholecystokinin, which helps your body feel full. Weight loss may occur through lower caloric consumption due to feeling more full.
Normally our brain utilizes carbs for energy. When carbs are in low supply, the liver can produce ketones from the MCTs, and this can provide your brain with a rapid boost of energy and clarity. Ketones are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier and used directly as a source of energy for brain cells. Athletes may also benefit through better mental capabilities to focus more intently on their game.
Why Are So Many CBD Products Made With It?
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are considered to be fat soluble. That means that those compounds break down and dissolves in lipids (fat) instead of water. Since our bodies are made up primarily of water, it can be difficult for our bodies to efficiently absorb fat soluble substances.
MCT oil works really well to incorporate cannabinoids into a product, since MCT is considered a saturated fat. Our bodies are also able to process MCT oil in an easier fashion, and cannabinoids that are in solution with MCT are able to ‘tag along’ with MCT into the body, increasing the efficiency of absorption and distribution within our body.
As a comparison, olive oil is made up of approximately 15-20% saturated fat, which makes it less efficient to carry cannabinoids into our system. There are also benefits to using olive oil, which will be written about soon.
A Simple Guide to MCT C8, C10 and C12
There are three main types of fatty acids found in coconut oil – C8, C10 and C12. Each type of fatty acid get its name from the number of carbons (8, 10 and 12) in their fat molecules, and each type of fatty acid offers unique benefits, from fat loss to heightened immune function.
Caprylic Acid (C8):
Around 7% of unadulterated coconut oil is C8. It is an MCT fatty acid.
C8 is the all-around best MCT for ketogenic energy. When you ingest C8, it only takes a few minutes for your body to turn it into energy for your cells. It is no surprise therefore, that C8 leads to better physical performance and you can feel it working almost instantly.
Capric Acid (C10):
Around 7% of unadulterated coconut oil is C10. It is also an MCT fatty acid.
C10 is a powerful antifungal, and foods rich in C10 can boost immunity.
Lauric Acid (C12):
Around 50% of unadulterated coconut oil is C12, it is a longer chain triglyceride and does not get converted to energy immediately like C8 and C10, however, C12 has antimicrobial benefits and may aid weight loss.
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How To Make Your Own Infused MCT Oil
1 cup (7-10 grams) hemp flower, coarse ground and decarboxylated
1 cup organic MCT oil
–Cheesecloth or a strainer
–Grinder (Note: a hand grinder is preferred for a coarse grind. Electric coffee been grinders or blenders create small pieces of plant matter, leading to a plant-like taste in your final product)
–Double Boiler, or a sauce pan and a glass bowl
–Water, for the lower portion of the double boiler
–Glass Storage Container for the end product
- Coarsely grind up your cannabis in the grinder, and go through the steps to decarb it.
- Once it is finished, combine the decarbed cannabis and MCT oil in the upper bowl, then add water to the lower part of the double boiler.
- Place the double boiler on the range and turn the heat on to warm to low, then place the MCT oil/cannabis bowl on top.
- Let heat for 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Do not let the temperature of the oil rise above 245° F.
- Place funnel into glass container and line with cheesecloth. Pour the mixture through the cloth to remove the cannabis plant material. Do not squeeze the cloth, as this will allow more chlorophyll and other smaller plant matter to pass through. Compost the left over plant material.
- Store the oil in a cool, dark place, or in your refrigerator.
How To Use Cannabis Infused MCT Oil
Using MCT oil infused with CBD is super easy. Simply add it into your smoothies or shakes. You can drizzle it over your meals or salads as a salad dressing. Use it in your favorite marinade. Blend it into your coffee or tea. You can even cook with it over low heat. The smoking point of MCT oil is around 320° F.
The most popular method to using CBD drops is as a sublingual application. That means that you take your desired serving size and squirt the drops under your tongue. Hold that for 60 to 90 seconds, and then swallow the remainder.
Is It Keto Friendly?
For those on a ketogenic diet, coconut oil is friendly to your goals. When on a keto diet, the idea is to have your body burn fat for fuel instead of carbs.
MCT Oil Cautions
It is always recommended to consult with your physician prior to making changes to your diet as well as beginning a new supplement program.
MCT oil is predominantly sourced from coconut, and a very small number of people do have allergies or are sensitive to coconut. If, after using any MCT based product, you develop conditions like nausea, hives, rash, tightness or swelling or irritation in your chest or throat, or swollen or blistering skin, contact your doctor right away.
If you have diabetes, it is important to monitor your ketone levels if you choose to use these types of products. When insulin production/supplementation is lacking, the body can keep releasing fat cells into the blood stream for the liver to produce ketones and ketoacids. This over product can alter the pH of the blood and cause what is called Diabetic Keto-Acidosis. That is a severe issue, and professional medical attention is required if this arises.