Medium chain triglycerides (mcts)
Medium chain triglycerides (mcts)

Background

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are fats that are made in a lab from coconut and palm kernel oils. Typical dietary fats are called long-chain triglycerides.

MCTs are a fat source for people who cannot tolerate other types of fats. These fats might also improve weight loss because the body can more easily break them down into molecules called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies can be used for energy.

People use MCTs for involuntary weight loss called cachexia or wasting syndrome. MCTs are also used for obesity, seizures, athletic performance, Alzheimer disease, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.
When taken by mouth: MCTs are likely safe. They can cause stomach upset, including diarrhea and vomiting, especially at higher doses.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if MCTs are safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if MCTs are safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: MCTs can cause certain chemicals called ketones to build up in the body. This can be a problem for people with diabetes. Avoid using MCTs if you have diabetes.

Liver problems: Because MCTs are processed by the liver, they can cause serious problems in people with liver disease. Do not use MCTs if you have liver problems.

Effectiveness

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Involuntary weight loss in people who are very ill (cachexia or wasting syndrome). Giving MCTs by IV can provide calories in critically ill patients. But they don't seem to work any better than normal dietary fats (long chain triglycerides). IV products can only be given by a healthcare provider.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
  • Involuntary weight loss in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking MCTs by mouth doesn't seem to prevent weight loss in people with HIV infection.
There is interest in using MCTs for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

MCTs have most often been used by adults in doses of 6-56 grams by mouth daily for up to 24 weeks. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) interacts with any medicines. Before taking Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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