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Nootropic Effects of MCT Oils

There has been a sudden increase in the usage of medium chain triglycerides (MCT) by the health community. Bulletproof coffee is one of the most common ways to enjoy this beneficial supplement.

MCT oils are a fast-acting fuel for the mind and body with important implications for various aspects of good health. In addition to these nootropic benefits, MCT oils have also been found to be an effective treatment for epilepsy, weight management, and to help balance a healthy diet by curbing cravings.

 width= What Are MCT Oils?

MCT oils are not much different from the saturated fats health advisors are warning us about except for the fact that they have fewer carbon molecules in their chain. Long chain triglycerides are far more common and can be found in plant-derived oils like soybean or safflower oil. These fatty acids have chains with 13 to 22 carbon molecules.

MCT oils are medium chain triglycerides and have 6 to 12 carbon molecules. MCT oils contain a mixture of medium chain fatty acids. The four most commonly found are caproic acid containing 6 carbon molecules, caprylic acid with 8, capric acid with 10 and lauric acid with 12. While these are natural compounds, they are not found in any single natural source in large amounts. 1

As a matter of fact, MCT oil is not a naturally occurring oil but a special concentration of MCTs taken from various natural sources including animal and vegetable fats. The term fractionation refers to a separation technique occurring in a laboratory which sorts the healthy MCTs from the other long chain fatty acids. 2

Why is MCT Oil Good For You?

MCT oils are especially easily absorbed into the body and provide a dynamic energizing effect. Long chain triglycerides take a longer time to break down and require salts to be properly digested. On the other hand, MCT oil is easily passed from the gut to the liver where it can be instantly metabolized.

The important thing to remember is that MCT oil acts more like a carbohydrate than oil when it is being used as fuel. Unlike other fats that will be bogged down in the lymphatic system, MCT receives a direct route to the liver where it begins to act like a proper carb and begin the production of a special brain fuel called ketones.

Furthermore, long-chain triglycerides have the tendency to stick around in the body and contribute to stored fat. This is not a problem with MCT which is quickly metabolized and seems to have the capacity to improve fat oxidation. This is why this healthy energy food is popular especially for those looking to drop weight. 3

Nootropic Effects of MCT Oil  width=

Increases Production of ATP

MCT oils bypass the regular digestive route and almost instantly converted into potent brain empowering ketones in the liver. Ketones are an important source of fuel used by all parts of the body, especially the brain.

In the brain, ketones are used to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the type of fuel used to power mitochondria in cells. When these powerhouses are supplied with good fuel, they increase cognitive function and alertness. 4

Improves Alertness

Ketones produced in the liver have the capacity to pass the blood-brain barrier and be used for essential brain fuel. When brain cells are receiving plenty of energy their processes are amplified and endurance greatly increased. A considerable boost in alertness is one of the most notable effects.

Boosts Cognitive Functioning

Studies have suggested that an increase of ketones can improve memory function especially in those suffering Alzheimer’s. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s or similar degenerative conditions have brains that can’t properly use glucose the regular brain fuel. Ketones provide an alternative fuel that can vastly improve brain function and increases cognitive functions. 5

Improved Memory

Along with an increased cognitive capacity, ketones can also greatly enhance memory. Ketones have the capacity to empower brain functioning in cognitive decline. Most of the neurodegeneration suffered by the brain comes from lacking important nutrients, oxygen or fuels sources.

One study tested the ability of MCT oils to reverse the effects of subjects suffering from mild cognitive decline. Over the span of 24 weeks, the group taking MCT oil showed improvements in memory as compared to the placebo group. 6 If fuel is the need, MCT could be a potent solution.

Mood Improvement

Depression, moodiness, and even aggression are all signs of a brain not getting the type of attention it needs. Without the fuel provided by a healthy diet and nootropic supplementation, the brain can’t produce the chemicals it requires to function properly. If you have been feeling out of sorts, it could be that your brain is tired or under-fueled. Try supplementing with MCTs for a better mood and reduced anxiety. 7

Antioxidant Capacity

Protecting the brain from oxidative stress is one of the primary functions of a nootropic. Since MCT oils have a high quantity of healthy antioxidants, they work to protect the brain from damage by controlling free radicals and minimizing their destructive capacity. 8

Important Considerations for MCT Oil Supplementation

mct oils Sources of MCT Oils

Coconut and coconut oils may not be the best source of MCT. While coconut oils contain a fairly high amount of MCT oils, it also has some ingredients that are not as good for you. The problem is that coconut oils contain a far larger supply of long-chain triglycerides which is a good supply of energy but it can also produce body fat.

The most abundant MCT in coconut oil is lauric acid. Some experts claim that lauric acid degrades the quality of the other MCTs found in coconut oils.

While there are many health benefits found in coconut oils, those looking to enjoy the full MCT fuel boost should consider buying quality MCT oils from reputable providers.

Increased Bioavailability

When MCT oils are stacked with other fat-soluble supplements, it increases their bioavailability. Bioavailability is the term used for how fast and efficiently a compound is absorbed into the body.

When a fat-soluble compound is combined with MCT, it hitches a free ride straight to the liver where it can be distributed throughout the body. This improves the absorption and amount delivered of both supplements. 9 Be careful when taking MCT oils with other fat-soluble supplements as their effects may be more profound due to the increased bioavailability.

Risks and Precautions mct oil

While there have been no extensive reports on the adverse side effects of MCT oils, they do have a capacity to affect the functions of the gastrointestinal tract. Too much MCT oil in a small amount of time can lead to nausea and diarrhea. Too much MCT oil can also lead to weight gain.

Pregnant and nursing mothers should always consult their physician before making any dietary supplementations that could affect the child. 10


Aside from its benefits, the best thing about MCT oils is how versatile it can be. Having no especially strong aroma or flavor allows this oil to be enjoyed in a cup of coffee, breakfast smoothie, dressing or sauce.

PhotoCredits: IrynaImago/, SewCream/, AaronAmat/, TatianaBralnina/

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