MCT Oil vs. Coconut Oil


The debate between MCT Oil and Coconut Oil rages on and there tends to be a wealth of misinformation about the topic.  Traditionally, health experts have praised the virtues of coconut oil – it is an incredibly useful product. But, there remains a lot of uncertainty and confusion about the nature and composition of MCT oil. Let’s take a closer look.


Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are essentially fatty acids of a medium length. Oils are comprised of fatty acids that vary in length from small  to medium to long – most oils feature a combination of all three. Medium chain triglycerides are those that contain between 6 and 12 carbon chains. There are four main types of MCTs:

  • Caproic acid (C6)
  • Caprylic acid (C8)
  • Capric acid (C10)
  • Lauric acid (C12)

The benefits of MCT oils include that it helps:

  • Increase energy
  • Maintain cholesterol levels
  • Improve nutrient absorption
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Improve cognitive function.

The health benefits of MCTs are widely lauded and can be found in many food sources like goats milk ( C6 and C10), breast milk (C8), coconut oil (C6, C8, C10, and C12), and palm kernel oil (C12).


Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, on the other hand, is a rich source of all four types of MCTs, especially Lauric acid (C12). In fact, coconut oil is somewhere around 50% lauric acid, making it the richest natural source of lauric acid. The health benefits of all MCTs are significant, but our understanding of the benefits of lauric acid is much more advanced.  We know lauric acid:

  • Is a powerful antimicrobial agent
  • Can help lower cholesterol
  • May be beneficial to treat acne
  • Can help improve cognitive function

Lauric acid is also often utilized as natural preservative for drugs and nutraceuticals.

MCT Oil vs. Coconut Oil

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. There are some key differences between MCT oil and coconut oil. 

  1. MCT comes from natural sources, like coconut oil. After all, coconut oil contains all four MCTs, as well as a number of longer-chain fatty acids.
  2. MCT oils, while being derived from natural sources, have to undergo a manufacturing process to isolate medium chain fatty acids from other oils.  The process of extraction is known as fractionation and the goal is to create potent sources of MCTs.
  3. Coconut oil is 50% Lauric Acid (C12), whereas MCT Oil typically have very small amounts of Lauric Acid (C12). 

Many health experts will claim that MCT oils are healthier than coconut oil, because of the greater concentration of Caproic, Caprylic, and Capric acid – but this is not true. Coconut oil and MCT oil each have their own benefits and should be used accordingly. People who are looking for a way to sustain energy and improve cognitive function should opt for MCT Oil, whereas people who are looking for an antimicrobial agent and way to improve cognitive function should lean towards coconut oil.




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