Medium Chain Triglycerides Supplement Review

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Medium Chain Triglycerides
  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Weight loss
+2 (Moderate Evidence)
Metabolic syndrome (short-term supplementation)
+2 (Moderate Evidence)
Abdominal obesity
+2 (Moderate Evidence)


  • Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are most commonly derived from coconut oil, palm oil, and dairy fat. They have been shown to lower weight, and to decrease metabolic syndrome, abdominal obesity, and inflammatory markers. They decrease appetite when taken with or before a meal and are quite palatable.
  • MCTs, when taken during pregnancy, prevented obesity for children later in life.
  • MCTs decrease triglyceride cholesterol levels and raise HDL (healthy) cholesterol, which causes the total cholesterol value to rise as well, but for a good reason.
  • MCTs have an unusual chemical structure that allows the body to digest them easily. Absorbed intact, they are taken straight to the liver and used directly for energy. In this way, they are processed more like carbohydrates than like other fats.


  • One tablespoon of MCT provides about 115 calories, so a serving would add about 230 calories to the diet. Excessive consumption would result in weight gain though, from a practical standpoint, it is difficult to conceive of someone consuming large amounts of the stuff.
  • MCTs can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Less common side effects include vomiting, irritability, nausea, gas, and essential fatty acid deficiency. Taking MCTs with food can reduce these effects.
  • In diabetics, MCTs can cause ketosis and must therefore be taken with caution.
  • The long-term risks of these in turning on genes that promote cancer have not been evaluated in short term weight loss studies.

Re-heated coconut oil is dangerous; therefore it should NOT be used as a cooking oil. Be cautious of palm oils mixed into other products. Saturated fat may increase long-term risk of cancer.

DOSAGE:MCTs come primarily from coconut and palm kernel oils, and dairy fat. The recommended dosage is up to 2 T (or 30 grams) daily of cold-pressed virgin coconut oil. It is NOT a cooking oil. This information applies ONLY to coconut oil that has been cold processed and is NOT hydrogenated.

CONCLUSION:We conclude that medium-chain triglycerides are a safe and effective short-term product for weight loss, metabolic syndrome, obesity and improving inflammatory markers. This is a high-calorie food, however, and it is quite filling, so it may act as a replacement for other calories in the diet. Coconut and palm oils should not be heated for long periods. We would consider only coconut oil that has been cold processed and is not hydrogenated.

“Medium Chain Triglycerides.” Natural Standard –The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Natural Standard, 2013.
“Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).” Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2013. 8 November 2013.

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