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
Where are they found?
Medium-chain triglycerides are found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and butter.
Medium-chain triglycerides are also available as a supplement.
have been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to
the individual health concern for complete information):
Who is likely to be deficient?
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.
How much is usually taken?
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.
(To view, roll mouse over the "References" heading; to hide, click on the heading)
Are there any side effects or interactions?
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
At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions
with medium-chain triglycerides.
1. Bach AC, Ingenbleek Y, Frey A. The usefulness of dietary medium-chain
triglycerides in body weight control: fact or fancy? J Lipid Res
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
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
5. Fan ST. Review: nutritional support for patients with cirrhosis. J
Gastroenterol Hepatol 1997;12:282–6.
Copyright © 2009 Aisle7 All rights reserved.
Learn more about Aisle7.
Learn more about the authors of Aisle7
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only.
It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience,
or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur
in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over
the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or chemist
for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in