1,2,3-Propanetriol Trioctanoate, AC-1202, Acide Caprique, Acide Caproïque, Acide Caprylique, Acide Laurique, Capric Acid, Caproic Acid, Caprylic Acid, Caprylic Triglycerides, 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.
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, as well as for decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass.
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.
Possibly Effective for...
- Certain types of seizures in children.
- 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).
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.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- 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.
- Nutritional support of athletic training.
- Decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle.
- Improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For improving seizure control in children: MCT oil is used as 60% of the calories eaten.
- 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.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Babayan VK. Medium chain triglycerides and structured lipids. Lipids 1987;22:417-20. View abstract.
Bach AC, Babayan VK. Medium-chain triglycerides: an update. Am J Clin Nutr 1982;36:950-62. View abstract.
Ball MJ. Parenteral nutrition in the critically ill: use of a medium chain triglyceride emulsion. Intensive Care Med 1993;19:89-95. View abstract.
Calabrese C, Myer S, Munson S, et al. A cross-over study of the effect of a single oral feeding of medium chain triglyceride oil vs canola oil on post-ingestion plasma triglyceride levels in healthy men. Altern Med Rev 1999;4:23-8. View abstract.
Christophe A, Matthys F, Verdonk G. Chylous-fluid triglycerides and lipoproteins in a patient with chylothorax put on a diet of butter or medium-chain triglyceride [proceeedings]. Arch Int Physiol Biochim 1980;88:B17-B19. View abstract.
Clarke PJ, Ball MJ, Hands LJ, et al. Use of a lipid containing medium chain triglycerides in patients receiving TPN: a randomized prospective trial. Br J Surg 1987;74:701-4. View abstract.
Fernandez Alvarez JR, Kalache KD, Grauel EL. Management of spontaneous congenital chylothorax: oral medium-chain triglycerides versus total parenteral nutrition. Am J Perinatol 1999;16:415-20. View abstract.
Gibert CL, Wheeler DA, Collins G, et al. Randomized, controlled trial of caloric supplements in HIV infection. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 1999;22:253-9. View abstract.
Henderson ST, Vogel JL, Barr LJ, et al. Study of the ketogenic agent AC-1202 in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2009;6:31. View abstract.
Jalili F. Medium-chain triglycerides and total parenteral nutrition in the management of infants with congenital chylothorax. South Med J 1987;80:1290-3.. View abstract.
Jensen GL, Mascioli EA, Meyer LP, et al. Dietary modification of chyle composition in chylothorax. Gastroenterology 1989;97:761-5. View abstract.
Nijveldt RJ, Tan AM, Prins HA, et al. Use of a mixture of medium-chain triglycerides and longchain triglycerides versus long-chain triglycerides in critically ill surgical patients: a randomized prospective double-blind study. Clin Nutr 1998;17:23-9. View abstract.
Reger MA, Henderson ST, Hale C, et al. Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiol Aging 2004;25:311-4. View abstract.
Ruppin DC, Middleton WR. Clinical use of medium chain triglycerides. Drugs 1980;20:216-24.
Sills MA, Forsythe WI, Haidukewych D, et al. The medium chain triglyceride diet and intractable epilepsy. Arch Dis Child 1986;61:1168-72. View abstract.
St-Onge MP, Jones PJ. Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity. J Nutr 2002;132:329-32.. View abstract.
Trauner DA. Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) diet in intractable seizure disorders. Neurology 1985;35:237-8. View abstract.