Medium Chain Triglycerides

The name “medium chain” is given to these triglycerides because of their molecular structure, which may consist of anything between six to twelve carbon atoms. The medium chain triglycerides or MCTs are beneficial to the human body for a number of reasons, but they must be extracted artificially in laboratories. Natural sources of medium chain triglycerides from which the medicinal MCTs are derived in labs include mainly palm kernel oil, coconut oil and camphor tree drupes. The fatty acids which constitute the MCTS (also known as medium chain fatty acids) along with glycerol are caproic acid, caprylic acid, capric acid and lauric acid. These MCTs or “man-made fats” are primarily used as a supplemental medicine along with other medications to treat malabsorption or malnutrition. The reason for malabsorption could be anything from Crohn’s disease to hyperthyroidism, and MCTs are not used to treat the disease itself but to help the patient deal with the malabsorption syndromes. Its use is particularly common in patients who are suffering from diarrhea, celiac disease, liver disease, steatorrhea, indigestion etc. The main principle behind the working of medium chain triglycerides is the fat’s usability in the system of patients who are incapable of utilizing or accepting other more common types of fat.

Medium Chain Triglycerides

Apart from the malabsorption syndromes, it has been found that medium chain triglycerides are also quite helpful in the treatment of chylothorax, chyluria, cystic fibrosis, seizures, Alzheimer’s disease, gallbladder issues and even AIDS. The therapeutic effect of the processed fats may differ from disease to disease and from person to person, depending on various physiological factors and the stage of the disease however. Some patients are totally unable to ingest any food orally because of a dysfunctional digestive system and for them TPN or total parenteral nutrition is the only way to survive. These patients are given MCTs through intravenous to help them absorb the injected nutrition better and in case of patients who are in an absolutely critical condition, MCTs help to stop muscle breakdown as well. There is also a more non-clinical application of MCTs that does not require the user to be critically ill or even be a patient at all. They are in fact, used by some of the fittest persons among us in order to gain muscle and lose fat. Athletes all over the world have come to realize the potential of MCT as an effective fat burner as well as a nutritional supplement that can help them to add lean muscle mass.

Very few people have a problem with medium chain triglycerides but diabetes patients are one of them as MCTs are known to be responsible for ketone accumulation in blood, which is detrimental to diabetics. The condition of the liver must be considered before resorting to MCTs because, in spite of the fact that they are at times used in liver diseases, they might not be safe for all kinds of liver patients, especially in case of patients with liver cirrhosis. Apart from this, a small portion of the people who use MCTs sometimes suffer from side-effects like nausea, diarrhea, digestive disorders, intestinal problems, fat deficiency and irritability.