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.

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 taken by mouth or given with a needle alone or along with usual medications for involuntary weight loss in people who are very ill (cachexia or wasting syndrome). MCTs are also used for obesity, seizures, athletic performance, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.

How does it work?

MCTs are a fat source for patients who cannot tolerate other types of fats. These fats might also improve weight loss because the body uses them in a different way to other types of fats.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Involuntary weight loss in people who are very ill (cachexia or wasting syndrome). MCTs can provide calories in critically ill patients. But they don't seem to offer any advantages over normal dietary fats (long chain triglycerides).

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Athletic performance. Most research shows that taking MCTs does not improve exercise performance. But MCTs might help athletes exercise longer when taken with carbohydrates.
  • Involuntary weight loss in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking MCTs doesn't seem to prevent weight loss associated with AIDS better than taking a multivitamin.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Alzheimer disease. Early research suggests that taking MCTs for up to 6 months does not improve thinking or memory in people with Alzheimer disease.
  • Leakage of a body fluid (chyle) into the space between the lungs and chest wall. Taking MCTs by mouth or intravenously (by IV) might prevent malnutrition and a weakened ability to fight infection in children and adults with chylothorax.
  • Seizure disorder (epilepsy). Early research shows that taking MCTs by mouth reduces seizures in children and adults.
  • High levels of fats called triglycerides 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.
  • Obesity. 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.
  • Growth and development in premature infants. Premature infants are at risk for a type of yeast infection in the gut. Early research shows that giving MCTs in breast milk or formula might help to treat these infections.
  • A rare disease affecting digestion (Waldmann disease). Early research shows that following a low-fat, high-protein diet and supplementing with MCTs might reduce symptoms in patients with Waldmann disease.
  • Age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia).
  • Decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle.
  • High levels of cholesterol in the blood.
  • Improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Problems digesting fat.
  • Celiac disease.
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Diabetes.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of MCTs for these uses.
Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: MCTs are LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth. 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.

When given by IV: MCTs are LIKELY SAFE for most people when given intravenously (by IV) by a health care provider.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if MCTs are safe to use when pregnant or 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 serious 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 involuntary weight loss in people who are very ill (cachexia or wasting syndrome): 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.

View References

REFERENCES:

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