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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Medium-Chain Triglycerides
Medium-chain triglycerides are a class of fatty acids. Their chemical
composition is of a shorter length than the long-chain fatty acids present in
most other fats and oils, which accounts for their name. They are also different
from other fats in that they have a slightly lower calorie content1 and
they are more rapidly absorbed and burned as energy, resembling carbohydrate
more than fat.2
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For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
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The best amount of medium-chain triglycerides to take is currently unknown. Athletes are not likely to benefit from less than 50 grams during exercise. Larger amounts may possibly help some, but may also impair performance if not combined with carbohydrate.
Medium-chain triglycerides are found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and butter. Medium-chain triglycerides are also available as a supplement.
Most people consume adequate amounts of fat in their diets and many people consume excessive amounts, so extra fat intake as medium-chain triglycerides is unnecessary.
Consuming medium-chain triglycerides on an empty stomach can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Anyone with cirrhosis or other liver problems should check with a doctor before using medium-chain triglycerides. Two reports suggest that medium-chain triglycerides may raise serum cholesterol and/or triglycerides.3, 4 Medium-chain triglycerides are actually the preferred fatty acid source for cirrhotic patients, but only when used intermittently.5
1. Bach AC, Ingenbleek Y, Frey A. The usefulness of dietary medium-chain triglycerides in body weight control: fact or fancy? J Lipid Res 1996;37:708-26.
2. Bach AC, Babayan VK. Medium-chain triglycerides—an update. Am J Clin Nutr 1982;36:950-62.
3. Cater NB, Heller HJ, Denke MA. Comparison of the effects of medium-chain triacylglycerols, palm oil, and high oleic acid sunflower oil on plasma triacylglycerol fatty acids and lipid and lipoprotein concentrations in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;65:41-5.
4. Hill JO, Peters JC, Swift LL, et al. Changes in blood lipids during six days of overfeeding with medium or long chain triglycerides. J Lipid Res 1990;31:407-16.
5. Fan ST. Review: nutritional support for patients with cirrhosis. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 1997;12:282-6.
Last Review: 05-23-2015
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