I once was deluded into thinking that MCT oil is just a gimmick. It seemed to me MCT oil is just expensive coconut oil.
It turns out I was wrong.
Admitting mistakes is the first step to wisdom. Or something like that.
And when we figure out our mistakes, sharing what we’ve learned with others is just flat kindness.
So here’s what I have learned about MCT oil that is definitely worth sharing.
What does ‘MCT’ stand for?
The intials MCT are an abbreviation for medium-chain triglycerides, fats found in natural foods like coconuts. These medium-chain triglycerides are metabolized differently than the long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) found in most other foods.
MCTs are broken down quickly and absorbed into the body rapidly.
Unlike longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs go straight to your liver. And because of that they provide almost instantly-available energy. If this energy is not immediately used fully, it turns into ketones — the substances produced when the liver breaks down large amounts of fat.
MCTs are different from regular fatty acids because the ketones they produce can cross from the blood directly to the brain. So because of that, MCTs provide an alternative energy source for the brain from the glucose that is the mainstay of most of our modern brains’ diets. And it is a much better and cleaner “burning” fuel for the brain than what glucose provides.
The major foods that have naturally-occurring high levels of MCTs are coconut oil, palm oil, whole milk, and butter.
The major health benefits of medium chain triglycerides and MCT oil.
Because the calories contained in MCTs are more efficiently turned into energy and better used by the body, they are less likely to be stored as fat than calories from the more common LCTs are. Possibly because that, there are significant findings that show the addition of MCTs to one’s diet aids in weight loss.
Many professional athletes use MCT oil not to lose weight, but to boost energy and endurance. MCT oil is a huge source of usable energy, both physical and mental, but it also positively affects the condition of hair, scalp, and nails.
Studies have have shown higher intake of MCTs are linked to lower cholesterol levels. And MCTs additionally appear to help lower blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
A growing amount of research shows that MCTs significantly improve brain function in people following ketogenic diets (defined as carbohydrate intake limited to 50 grams or less a day). And there is increasing evidence that MCTs can aid in the treatment or possibly even prevent brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
What is the difference between MCT oil and Coconut Oil?
MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides. It typically is extracted from coconut oil or palm kernel oil. Sometimes it is a combination of the two, and it may be mixed with a few other oils as well.
Extraction from coconut oil yields a higher concentration of MCTS than extraction from palm oil. So the higher-grade MCT oils are made solely from coconut oil.
MCT oil typically has less of an unpleasant taste and smell than coconut oil. It’s also absorbed into the body faster than coconut oil.
Sometimes people find coconut oil difficult to digest, but MCT oil is more gentle on the digestive tract. And since it is highly concentrated, MCT oil has almost twice the level of MCTs as coconut oil.
Spoonful for spoonful, coconut oil is about 45 percent to 65 percent MCTs. And MCT oil is 95 percent to 100 percent MCTs. That’s roughly double.
Cooking with MCT oil.
While some authorities debate whether this is a good idea or not, the smoke point of MCT oil is 320 F. That is low for a cooking oil.
So while MCT oil is fine to mix with cold or warm foods and beverages, for actual cooking, other oils are probably better suited. The best suggestion for cooking oils are coconut, avocado, olive, almond, walnut, or sesame.
Cooking with MCT oil is probably not the best way to ingest MCT oil. You can do it. But there are probably better oils to cook with. And there are certainly less expensive oils to cook with.
What are the best ways to consume MCT oil?
You can mix it as a salad dressing. You can use it as an additive to coffee or hot cocoa or a smoothie. You can use it almost any way you would use any other kind of oil, simply being aware that it has a low smoke point. It has a very neutral taste.
What is the shelf life of MCT oil?
Properly stored, about two years. You can store it in the refrigerator. But you don’t have to. It’s fine in an air-tight container, preferably in a cool, dark location.
My personal experience with MCT oil.
I began using MCT oil in my coffee in a concoction called Bullet Proof Coffee several years ago. I found it accelerated weight loss but I also found it was very satiating. If I drank it in my coffee in the morning, I was not hungry at all until well after noon. My hair and nails improved. And so did my allergies.
About eight months ago I switched form MCT oil in my morning coffee to coconut oil. My hair and nails seem to be drier now than they were. And my energy level is lower than it was. And my allergies have increased, at least some. These are not huge because I am still getting MCTs in coconut oil daily. But coconut oil has just about half the MCT level as MCT oil, so the amount I am ingesting has been lower.
I have recently switched back to MCT oil from coconut oil for my morning coffee. I still use coconut oil topically and for cooking in some dishes. Coconut oil has a decided taste to it so I only use it to cook things that the coconut flavor melds with well — like chocolate baked goods.
So what do you look for when you purchase MCT oil and how much do you need to take on a daily basis?
Look for Organic, non-GMO oils that are packaged in BPA-free bottles or containers. Look for MCT oil is that refined from coconuts only with no palm oil or other oil added. And be sure to check the amount of MCTs in a serving because they are not all the same. Some methods of extraction have a higher MCT yield than others. Sustainable and ethical harvesting are nice even though they do not directly affect the nutritional quality of the MCT oil. And, of course, look for price.
The typical suggested dosage is 1 to 2 tablespoons a day. You can easily get this in a morning beverage like Bullet Proof Coffee — which I will share a recipe for at the end of this article.
One ounce equals 2 tablespoons. So the amount of MCT oil you need depends on whether you go for one tablespoon a day or two. So if you purchase a 16-oz container of MCT oil, it has 32 tablespoons in it — about one month’s worth on the lower dosage. But on the higher dosage or if you have a two-person household, a 16-oz container is probably not the best way to buy it. But it may be a good way to try it out if you are new to it.
If storage space is at a huge minimum for you, buy the lower amount. Otherwise, I would suggest buying it in at least the 32-oz size. Because remember MCT oil has a two-year shelf life.
The five best buys on MCT oil I have been able to locate.
Garden of Life MCT Oil
This is very likely a brand you have seen in your local market. This 16-oz Garden of Life MCT Oil (always available on Amazon as well) is probably the most readily available MCT oil in U.S. grocery stores so its volume of sales is high. But it also is has the highest price per ounce of any of the products on my list (at least as of the date of this post). In buying it over several years, I always have found it one of the two highest priced MCT oils on the store shelves.
Garden of Life is a great little company that was started in 2000 in Palm Beach. It is totally geared to organic nutritional supplements and pro-biotics and has a good record of customer satisfaction. It was sold to Nestles’s in 2017, but it remains an organic line as far as we can tell.
Likely because of the association with Nestle’s, you see wide distribution of Garden of Life in retail groceries in the U.S. It’s a good product, but it comes at a premium price. And we think there are better deals out there — even though this is a good product.
Garden of Life makes a point in their marketing to note their oil is made 100 percent from coconut oil with no palm or other fillers. But I am going to note that is true for all of the oils I’m listing even if they do not advertise that fact as prominently as Garden of Life does. This company also points out that the coconuts they use are sustainably grown. So if that matters to you, it’s good to note. But I would not assume the same is not true of other companies as well.
Garden of Life’s MCT oil has 13 grams of MCT per serving. I mention that because not all have the same amount.
This is the other brand I most often see in my local grocery. The 16-oz Nature’s Way MCT Oil not always in stock locally, but the majority of the time it is. But it is almost always available — on Amazon — which is where this link goes. The Amazon price is quite a bit better on this product than the price I can get it for in my local grocery store — which may have something to do with the reason this product is the #1 seller on Amazon among MCT oils.
It is both non-GMO and organic certified.
The container is what the company calls vegetarian packaging, whatever that is, and the bottle is a BPA-free container.
Nature’s Way also sells MCT oil in a 30-oz container at almost 15-cents less per ounce than the 16-oz bottle. So it may be better to upgrade the size once you test it out. In the larger size, the unit price drops to one of the best prices of the six products we are reviewing. And Nature’s Way also has a repeat-buyer’s plan on Amazon that takes the price per ounce down even more if you are willing to get a consistent 60-supply.
One of the things we like a lot about Nature’s Way is that is has 14 grams of MCT per serving rather than the 13 grams most products do.
As a company, Nature’s Way is hard to pinpoint. Some sources say it is 100-percent Australian-owned and controlled. Other sources say it is based in Springville, Utah. If the base of the company is important to you, it’s going to take some digging on your part. Just please be sure to let me know what you find because I’m curious.
If price is your ultimate driver, this 128-oz Nutiva MCT Oil available on Amazon is a great choice for you. The price per ounce if you buy this size from Nutiva drops to the lowest price of any high-quality MCT oil we have found. Yes, it is a big chunk outlay at one time. But if you are a single-person household and take only one dose a day, this will last you eight months. And the per unit cost is half of several of the others on this list.
Nutiva is also totally organic, non-GMO, comes in a BPA-free container, and is harvested ethically and sustainably solely from coconuts. It has 13 grams of MCT per serving.
This company sells MCT oil in smaller volumes, but the price per ounce is almost double what it is in this size container. This is by far the best buy.
Nutiva is a highly innovative company. It’s based in Richmond, California and it is solely a “superfoods” company. It is certified as a zero-waste manufacturing company (which may be why they encourage large volume container sales). And for the past five years Nutiva has been one of the fastest growing companies on the planet, according to Inc. Magazine.
I’ve begun seeing Nutiva in one of my local stores in the past 18 months or so, but not in this size and certainly not at the price you can get it for on Amazon.
This 32-oz Sports Research MCT Oil is available on Amazon even though I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in my local grocery.
This product is also non-GMO and certified organic. It’s not the best price on the list, but I have a couple of friends who love this brand. I can’t find a chemical basis for it, but one of my friends is absolutely convinced this gives him the most immediate energy of any brand of MCT oil on the market. I can’t knock that kind of loyalty, so I’m listing it.
The Sports Research company has really avid fans like him. It has some of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry on all of its products. Based in San Pedro, California, Sports Research is solely a health and wellness company. Its oil is 100 percent coconut-derived from sustainable groves.
It offers MCT oil in several sizes, but this size is the best per unit price among the sizes they offer.
Sports Research’s oil has 13 grams of MCTs per serving.
I’ve never seen it in my local grocery store, but this 16-oz Island Fresh MCT Oil is available on Amazon. I first saw it in a neighborhood grocery in NYC a couple of years ago so I know it is carried in some four-walled stores.
I bought a bottle of Island Fresh MCT oil for the friend I was staying with to show her how to make Bullet Proof Coffee, admittedly largely because I wanted some for breakfast. But she became an instant devotee and is still drinking it daily. I really liked the Island Fresh brand — at least partially because the pour spout on the bottle works really well. The amount is easy to control from the spout (unlike most brands) and I didn’t have to use a spoon.
This 16-oz size is the right one for her tiny little apartment cabinets.
Island Fresh is another company that offers a deeper unit discount if you sign up for a standing 60-day order on Amazon. And if you are cramped for space like my friend, that may be a good way to order it if it isn’t available from your local grocer.
Island Fresh is a small food and beverage company based in Brooklyn that has only 17 employees. It may not qualify as a Mom & Pop, but it’s still a small enterprise compared to most of these companies. If it is important to you to support small businesses, this is one of the two smallest businesses of the six brands I list here.
Like the other six brands — but not like all of the MCT oil out there — Island Fresh is non-GMO and organic certified. It also is made from 100 percent coconut oil with no palm oil or other oil additives, and the coconut source is ethically and sustainably grown and harvested.
Island Fresh’s MCT oil has 13 grams of MCTs per serving.
This is another brand I’ve never seen in my local grocery story. But you can get this 32 oz bottle of Natural Force MCT Oil on Amazon at a remarkably good price per unit. In fact, it’s the best price of the six products listed here unless you opt for the mega 128-oz size from Nutiva.
Natural Force MCT oil is exclusively made from sustainable, organic, and non-GMO coconuts grown in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. It is 100 percent coconut with no Palm oil or other additives. It is additionally certified Paleo, Vegan, and Kosher. Talk about covering all of the bases.
One thing I particularly like about the Natural Force product is that it has 14 grams of MCTs per serving as opposed to the more typical 13 grams of MCTs per serving that most commercial MCT oil has. But there’s more.
Natural Force is the smallest, and possibly the youngest, company on my list. And it’s definitely the most innovative — in several ways.
It is based in Jacksonville, Florida and was founded in 2009 by two college buddies who were physical fitness nuts. It only has 10 employees — and they are not all in the same location. The “workforce” of Natural Force is made up of yogis, chefs, health coaches, personal trainers, “parents,” and gamers. (Yes, you read that right, gamers.) Their office is virtual.
It’s also a Certified B Corp. If you are not familiar with what that means, Certified B Corps are a real deal movement in the young and emerging business world. To become a Certified B Corp, a company has to meet a set of verifiable social and environmental performance standards that include public transparency and legal accountability of balancing profit and purpose. You can read more about Certified B Corps and about what they stand for here.
But my personal penchant for favoring small businesses and appreciating social consciousness aside, the Natural Force MCT oil has the highest concentration of MCTs per serving on the market and is the best price when you take the MCT concentration into consideration.
But at least in my marketplace, the only way to get it is through Amazon.
So what’s the verdict?Table could not be displayed.
Be aware that since prices on Amazon are in constant flux, the per unit price shown in this table may change by the time you visit Amazon.
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