What Is Fractionated Coconut Oil?

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on May 02, 2023

Fractionated coconut oil is made from regular or virgin coconut oil. Both standard and fractionated coconut oils contain medium-chain triglycerides that provide fatty acids. However, the types of fatty acids in each oil differ.

Regular coconut oil is made up of mostly long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) and also has an element called the 12-carbon lauric acid (C12). C12 and long-chain fatty acids are purposefully removed from fractionated coconut oil. Instead, fractionated coconut oil contains two medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA): 

  • C8-  caprylic acid or octanoic acid.
  • C10- decanoic acid or capric acid.

The C8- and C10- acids undergo a different metabolic process than other fatty acids. They are sent directly to the liver to provide energy. The medium-chain fatty acids found in fractionated coconut oil have also been found to benefit people with Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and epilepsy. 

Both fractionated and regular coconut oil contain medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that provide your body with fatty acids. MCTs can be beneficial to your health. 

Leads to weight loss and reduced insulin resistance. Eating foods and oils with high levels of MCTs can help lead to weight loss at a greater rate than alternative oils. The MCTs in coconut oil can also help reduce insulin resistance in people with diabetes. They also help improve other risk factors in people with diabetes and excess weight.

‌Improves brain function and increases good cholesterol. The MCTs in coconut oil are useful in helping improve brain function and in helping reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Coconut oil contains natural saturated fats that are good for your heart health. A diet enriched with MCTs can also be helpful to children with epilepsy. The MCTs found in coconut oil can alter their appetite and allow them to eat more protein and carbs.

Making fractionated coconut oil is a lengthy process. By heating coconut oil above its melting point, the long-chain fatty acids and lauric acid can be removed from the rest of the mixture. Because these two elements have a higher melting point than the medium-chain fatty acids, they turn from liquid to solid at a quicker rate. The solid fraction of the oil can be removed, and the liquid oil remains. 

The result is a tasteless and odorless liquid coconut oil, best used as a moisturizer, hair oil, and massage oil. Fractionated coconut oil sinks into your skin quickly and is less likely to clog your pores than normal coconut oil. It can also be used as a dietary supplement and has a longer shelf life than most other forms of coconut oil.

Fractionated coconut oil is more liquid than solid when compared to normal coconut oil. Regular coconut oil only becomes liquid under high temperatures (78 degrees F) and has a greasy feel. Because of this unique difference, fractionated coconut oil is best used for therapeutic purposes.

Use as a moisturizer for smooth and healthy skin. Fractionated coconut oil is rich in hydrating properties that help to soothe and soften your skin, while also helping combat stretch marks. When you apply the oil after shaving, it can help to prevent itchiness and razor bumps, leaving you with smooth, glowing skin. 

Use as a massage oil for an easy blend. The oil is both odorless and colorless, allowing it to mix well with any essential oil. As a carrier oil, it hydrates your skin and spreads the fragrance of the essential oil, making the scent last longer. Fractionated coconut oil is a great choice of massage oil, as the thickness of the oil also helps make the massage strokes gentle and easy.

Fractionated olive oil can also be used to make a variety of products, such as:

  • Massage oils
  • Bath and body blends
  • Soaps
  • Hair treatments
  • Roll on remedies
  • Moisturizers

Show Sources


AIP Conference Proceedings: “Synthesis and characterization of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) from virgin coconut oil (VCO).”

Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation.”

Biomedical Journal: “Medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, an effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and a comparison with other ketogenic diets.”

Early care: “Now Remove Stretch Marks with Coconut Oil.”

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Impact of medium and long-chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men."

Frontiers in Neuroscience: “Neuroenergetics, Nutrition, and Brain Health.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Ask the doctor: Coconut oil and health.”

Harvard School of Public Health: “The Nutrition Source.”

HuffPost: “Coconut Oil Benefits That Can Make Your Life Better.”

International Food Research Journal: “Fractionation of coconut oil via supercritical fluid extraction for production of cocoa butter substitute.”

Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental: “Effects of dietary medium-chain triglyceride on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in a group of moderately overweight free-living type 2 diabetic Chinese subjects.”

News Medical Life Sciences: “Coconut Oil and Dementia.”

Organic Facts: “Fractionated Coconut Oil- Uses and Benefits.”

PeaceHealth: “Caprylic Acid.”

PubChem: “Decanoic acid.”

ResearchGate: The properties of Lauric Acid and Their Significance in Coconut Oil.”

© 2023 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info