MEDIUM CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES (MCTs) Overview Information
Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are partially man-made fats. The name refers to the way the carbon atoms are arranged in their chemical structure. MCTs are generally made by processing coconut and palm kernel oils in the laboratory. Usual dietary fats, by comparison, are long-chain triglycerides. People use MCTs as medicine.
MCTs are used along with usual medications for treating food absorption disorders including diarrhea, steatorrhea (fat indigestion), celiac disease, liver disease, and digestion problems due to partial surgical removal of the stomach (gastrectomy) or the intestine (short bowel syndrome).
MCTs are also used for “milky urine” (chyluria) and a rare lung condition called chylothorax. Other uses include treatment of gallbladder disease, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer's disease, and seizures in children.
Athletes sometimes use MCTs for nutritional support during training, as well as for decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass.
MCTs are sometimes used as a source of fat in total parenteral nutrition (TPN). In TPN, all food is delivered intravenously (by IV). This type of feeding is necessary in people whose gastrointestinal (GI) tract is no longer working.
Intravenous MCTs are also given to prevent muscle breakdown in critically ill patients.
How does it work?
MCTs are a fat source for patients who cannot tolerate other types of fats. Researchers also think that these fats produce chemicals in the body that might help fight Alzheimer's disease.
Possibly Effective for:
- Certain types of seizures in children.
- Preventing muscle breakdown in critically ill patients, when given intravenously (by IV). MCTs can provide calories in critically ill patients, but don't seem to offer any advantages over normal dietary fats (long chain triglycerides).
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Alzheimer's disease. There is interest in using MCTs to treat Alzheimer’s disease because MCTs might provide extra energy to the brain and might also protect the brain against damage from beta-amyloid protein plaques. These plaques are the structures that form in Alzheimer’s disease and cause symptoms. Some research shows that a specific MCT product (AC-1202) does not significantly improve learning, memory and information processing (cognitive thinking) in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, except in people with a particular genetic make-up (change in the APOE4 gene). In the people with the APEO4 gene change, a single dose of the MCT product seems to improve cognitive thinking skills.
- Chylothorax (a rare lung disorder). Taking MCTs by mouth or intravenously (by IV) might prevent malnutrition and a weakened ability to fight infection in children and adults with chylothorax.
- Nutritional support of athletic training.
- Decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle.
- Improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
- Other conditions.
MEDIUM CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES (MCTs) Side Effects & Safety
MCTs are safe for most people when taken by mouth or given intravenously (by IV). They can cause diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, nausea, stomach discomfort, intestinal gas, essential fatty acid deficiency, and other side effects. Taking MCTs with food might reduce some side effects.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of MCTs during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: MCTs can cause certain chemicals called ketones to build up in the body. This can be a problem for people with diabetes. Avoid using MCTs if you have diabetes.
Liver problems: Because MCTs are processed primarily by the liver, they can cause serous problems in people with liver disease. Do not use MCTs if you have cirrhosis or other liver problems.
MEDIUM CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES (MCTs) Dosing
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For improving seizure control in children: MCT oil is used as 60% of the calories eaten.
- As a fat source for people who receive all their food intravenously (by IV): a fat mixture containing 50% MCTs and 50% long chain triglycerides (usual dietary fats) is commonly used in total parenteral nutrition (TPN) formulas.