If you're looking for a way to boost your energy and brain function, adding a spoonful of MCT oil to your morning coffee or smoothie is a safe, effective way to do so. Typically derived from coconuts, MCT oil contains a greater concentration of beneficial caprylic acid and capric acid than plain ole coconut oil. MCT oil is considered a healthy fat -- made popular by the Keto diet -- and may actually help you to lose weight.
If you're not quite ready to jump on the MCT oil bandwagon, read our buying guide below for more information on this health and dietary supplement. We've also included our top picks rated for quality and potency, including our very favorite by Viva Naturals sourced from organic coconuts.
What is MCT oil?
Short for medium-chain-triglyceride, MCT oil is a healthy fat derived from coconut or palm kernels and contains four strains of beneficial MCTs. Three of these -- caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), and capric acid (C10) -- are metabolized quickly by the body and converted by the liver into energy.
This may result in the following health benefits:
Energy boost, without the jitters
Increased brain function
Proponents of MCT oil claim it also has antimicrobial properties, and that it's beneficial to the immune system and gut.
To consume MCT oil, you can easily mix a tablespoon in any hot or cold liquid. Other ways to ingest it include adding the tasteless oil to hot cereals, salad dressing, or smoothies. You can also use it for low- to mid-temperature cooking.
Considerations when choosing MCT oils
Coconut vs. palm: MCT oils can be derived from coconuts or a combination of coconut and palm oils. Both provide a great source of MCTs. However, not all palm kernels are ethically sourced, so some consumers prefer coconut over palm MCT oils.
Size: MCT oil is stable at room temperature and comes in opaque bottles, typically in 32 or 16 ounces. Travel-sized packets are also popular and provide a single serving of one tablespoon.
Ease of pouring: Because MCT oils are thin, they can flow out of a bottle quickly and cause a mess. Select packaging with a squirt bottle cap or individual packets for less mess.
Organic: If you're ingesting an MCT oil for your health, you might want to consider selecting an organic product free from potentially harmful chemicals. These tend to be non-GMO, too.
Flavored: While most MCT oils are tasteless and odorless, you can find flavored products. For instance, mocha- and vanilla-flavored MCT oils are well suited to add to your Keto "butter coffee."
BPA-free bottles: MCT oils generally come in plastic packaging, so select bottles that are free from bisphenol A (BPA), a potentially harmful chemical.
MCT oil prices
Expect to pay between $19 and $48 for a 32-ounce bottle of MCT oil. More expensive MCT oils are purer (not cut with lauric acid) and derived from organic sustainable coconuts or palm.
Q. What's the difference between MCT oil and regular coconut oil?
A. While both are considered beneficial for you, the main difference is that coconut oil is high in lauric acid (C12), the least beneficial MCT, and lower in the others. While lauric acid is still good for you, it won't give you the energy boost and antimicrobial benefits that MCT oils higher in C6, C8, and C10 will.
Q. Are there any side effects of taking an MCT oil?
A. When you first start supplementing with an MCT oil, you may experience stomach upset, like diarrhea. It's best to start with half a teaspoon and gradually increase to the recommended dose of one or two tablespoons a day.
MCT oils we recommend
Best of the best: Viva Naturals USDA Organic MCT Oil
Our take: A high-quality MCT oil that sharpens focus and provides immediate energy.
What we like: Organic. Mixes well into coffee and other foods without leaving an oily residue. Great for weight loss and Keto dieters.
What we dislike: Because of its potency, best to start off in lower doses.
Best bang for your buck: NOW Sports MCT Oil
Our take: Bargain-priced MCT oil with a variety of flavors.
What we like: Costs under $20. Aids in weight loss. Comes in two flavors and an unflavored version. Solid MCT ratios.
What we dislike: Doesn't have an easy-pour bottle cap. Not organic.
Our take: An organic MCT oil for the most health-conscious consumer.
What we like: BPA-free bottle. Derived only from organic, non-GMO coconuts. Tasteless flavor goes undetected even in a glass of water. Provides jitter-free energy.
What we dislike: Squirt cap works for some, leaks for others.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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