MCT Oil or Medium Chain Triglycerides The Different Types

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

MCT oil is a popular supplement among the keto and intermittent fasting community. This oil is a unique kind of fat used for its health benefits like reducing appetite, increasing mental energy, and more. But did you know that there are different types of MCT oil? In this article, I break down the different types of MCTs so that you can understand the different functions of each type.

I will cover:

Let’s start by looking at what MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, actually are.

MCT oil in glass vial with cork next to coconut and bowl of coconut oil on rustic cutting board


What are medium-chain triglycerides?

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are unique types of fats that don’t need help from your gallbladder to be digested. Because of their unique chemical structure, they can be turned into ketones very quickly. As a result, they can be used as a direct, stable source of quality fuel for the brain and body.

MCTs can be extracted from foods like coconut oil or palm oil. MCT oil has become a popular dietary supplement, and many people add a small amount of it to drinks like smoothies, shakes, or coffee. It can also be added to food items like salad dressings or sauces for its health benefits.

I think MCT oil can be very useful, especially if you are new to the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting eating plan.


What are the benefits of MCT oil?

There are many different health benefits of MCT oil. Here are just a few of the advantages of taking MCTs:

  • Decreases appetite. MCT oil helps you stay full and satisfied. This is particularly helpful for intermittent fasting and weight loss, because it can help you go longer between meals without breaking your fast. MCT oil is also especially useful for reducing your appetite when you are just starting out with ketosis, when you aren’t yet in full, 100% ketosis.
  • Reduces cravings. MCT oil is also helpful in keeping cravings down, so that you can stick to your Healthy KetoTM plan, stay healthy, and lose weight.
  • Increases brain energy. Many people take MCTs to increase brain energy when they need more mental and cognitive function. For example, if you are a student or you are writing a book, MCT oil may help you stay sharp, focused, and clear.
  • Feeds your brain and heart. If your brain or heart is damaged, this type of fat can bypass the damaged pathways and get fuel into the cells a lot more efficiently. As a result, this can help to benefit health conditions relating to the brain and heart such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, angina, atrial fibrillation, and any heart problem.
  • Doesn’t get stored as fat. Another great benefit of MCTs is that this type of fat is not stored as fat. Instead, it is used directly as energy. Again, this can help to support your weight loss efforts.

A young happy woman stretches measuring tape with arms, healthy weight loss success

As you can see, MCTs are particularly good for your brain and heart, and they can help to provide you with a clean, stable energy source to keep you focused, clear, and strong.

If you are interested in learning more about the advantages of MCTs, read about the top 15 health benefits of MCT oil here.


The different types of MCT oil and their functions

When it comes to this category of fats, there are different types of medium-chain triglycerides. This is the same idea as something like omega-3 fatty acids. Within the category of omega 3s, there are different subtypes within that category such as EPA, DHA, and ALA. Each of these is unique, and as a result, each has unique benefits and functions.

It’s the same with medium-chain triglycerides. There are four major MCT types: C6, C8, C10, and C12.

MCT oil from coconut oil in small white pitcher next to glass of oil and coconut on black table

Let’s go into the four types of MCT oil and what each of them does.

1. C6 – Caproic acid

This type of MCT oil turns into ketones pretty fast, which is a major benefit of this specific MCT type. However, the big problem with caproic acid is that there just isn’t enough of it to be able to extract it from coconut oil efficiently. So while it has its advantages, it doesn’t play a big role.

2. C8 – Caprylic acid

C8, or caprylic acid, is a type of MCT that people take for quick, stable mental energy. It can support clarity and focused thinking. It is also a very good antibacterial agent and can help fight infections like strep or staph.

3. C10 – Capric acid

Capric acid is fat with powerful antifungal qualities. It is very good for things like Candida Albicans. If you have candida, C10 is one of the best types of MCT oil to add to your diet. Just be sure to also keep your carb intake very, very low (about 5% of your total calories). Learn more about killing candida with keto and IF here.

4. C12 – Lauric acid

C12, or lauric acid, makes up about 48-49% of coconut oil. It is found in both coconut oil and breastmilk, and it is one of the most powerful antibacterial compounds out there. In the body, it turns into something called monolaurin, which is great for your immune system. It is also an antiviral that can be beneficial for things like measles, herpes, staph, and even E. Coli.

Shield with cross deflects viruses and bacteria, antimicrobial and antiviral immune system concept


Try MCT oil for yourself

If you are just starting out on keto, if you are doing intermittent fasting, or if you are someone who needs some extra energy support (like an athlete or student), you may want to consider MCT oil.

Here are some things to keep in mind when adding MCT oil to your diet:

  • Most people take a combination of the C8 and C10 forms of MCT.
  • I recommend doing your own research and finding a quality source of MCTs from a brand you trust. Quality matters with all dietary supplements.
  • When starting out, make sure to start with a very small amount and work your way up gradually. This helps to avoid possible MCT side effects like digestive discomfort. Try ½ a teaspoon first, then a full teaspoon, then after a few days you will likely be able to go up to 1 tablespoon and feel just fine. Your body may just need time to get used to it.

Give MCT oil a try; you may notice increased clarity, boosted energy, reduced hunger, and much more! Mix it into bulletproof coffee, a kale shake, or even your salad dressing.

Top down view of kale shake, green smoothie in glass with striped green straw on wood table


The bottom line

There are four major types of MCT: C6 (caproic acid), C8 (caprylic acid), C10 (capric acid), and C12 (lauric acid). Each of these has unique functions and benefits in the body.

MCT oils are antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral fats, and they also provide your brain and body with good, stable fuel to function optimally.

Whether you are an athlete who wants greater endurance, a student who needs a boost of mental function, or just an everyday person starting out with the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting looking to lose weight, MCT oil can support your health goals.

Opt for a high-quality MCT oil supplement, start slow with a small amount, and begin to notice the great effects of this unique type of fat.

Which MCT types do you prefer? What is the best type of MCT oil in your opinion? Share your thoughts and questions with me in the comments below.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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