MEDIUM CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES (MCTs)

OTHER NAME(S):

1,2,3-Propanetriol Trioctanoate, AC-1202, Acide Caprique, Acide Caproïque, Acide Caprylique, Acide Laurique, Capric Acid, Caproic Acid, Caprylic Acid, Caprylic Triglycerides, Laurate-rich MCTs, Lauric Acid, MCT, MCT's, MCTs, Medium-Chain Triacylglycerols, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, TCM, Triacylglycérols à Chaîne Moyenne, Tricaprylin, Triglycérides à Chaîne Moyenne, Triglycérides Capryliques, Triglicéridos de Cadena Media (TCMs), Trioctanoin.<br/><br/>

Overview

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, to increase exercise performance, for decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass, and for weight loss.

MCTs are sometimes used to reduce levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood called triglycerides. They might also be used for diabetes. In older people, MCTs are used to increase muscle mass and strength. They are also used for a rare disease called Waldmann disease.

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. These fats might also result in weight loss because the body uses them in a different way to other types of fats.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • 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).
  • Certain types of seizures in children.
  • A rare disease called Waldmann disease. Following a low-fat, high-protein diet and supplementing with MCTs seems to reduce symptoms in patients with Waldmann disease.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Weight loss associated with AIDS. Some research shows that taking MCTs does not seem to be any more effective than taking multivitamins and minerals alone for prevention of weight loss associated with AIDS.
  • Exercise performance. Most research shows that taking MCTs does not improve exercise performance. However, MCTs might help athletes exercise longer when taken with carbohydrates.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Muscle loss in the elderly. Early research shows that taking MCTs along with leucine and vitamin D increases the amount of muscle and improves strength in older people who have lost a lot of muscle mass.
  • 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.
  • High levels of fats in the blood (hypertriglyceridemia). Consuming an oil containing both medium- and long-chain fatty acids reduces levels of triglycerides in the blood in overweight patients. However, it might not be effective in people with high levels of these fats who are very overweight (obese) or normal-weight.
  • Weight loss in obese or overweight individuals. Research shows that taking MCTs can decrease body weight, body fat, and waist and hip circumference by a small amount. At least 4 weeks of use is likely needed to see any benefit. Men, people of Asian descent, and people with the highest amount of body fat before treatment seem to benefit the most. However, for most people any benefit is only slight and might not be clinically meaningful.
  • Decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle.
  • High levels of cholesterol in the blood.
  • Improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Nutritional support of athletic training.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of MCTs for these uses.

Side Effects

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.

Interactions

Interactions?

We currently have no information for MEDIUM CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES (MCTs) Interactions.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS
BY IV:

  • For preventing muscle breakdown in critically ill patients: 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.
CHILDREN
BY MOUTH:
  • For improving seizure control: MCT oil is used as 60% of the calories eaten.

View References

REFERENCES:

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