- Foods high in MCFA, 10:0, US Department of Agriculture
- Foods high in MCFA, 12:0, US Department of Agriculture
- Takeuchi H et al, 2008, Medium-chain fatty acids – nutritional function and application to cooking oil Wiley Online Library
- Bach AC et al, 1982, Medium-chain triglycerides: an update The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Jeppesen PB et al, 1998, The influence of a preserved colon on the absorption of medium chain fat in patients with small bowel resection Gut
- The MCT diet Epilepsy.com
- Tholstrup T et al, 2004, Effects of medium-chain fatty acids and oleic acid on blood lipids, lipoproteins, glucose, insulin, and lipid transfer protein activities The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Sáyago-Ayerdi SG et al, 2007, Usefulness and controversial issues of middle-chain fatty acids consumption on lipid-protein metabolism and obesity SciELO
- St-Onge M-P et al, 2002, Physiological Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides: Potential Agents in the Prevention of Obesity The Journal of Nutrition
- Gomes RV et al, 2003, Does medium chain triglyceride play an ergogenic role in endurance exercise performance? SciELO
- Jeukendrup AE et al, 2004, Fat supplementation, health, and endurance performance ScienceDirect
- Papamandjaris AA et al, 1998, Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications PubMed
- Lieber CS, 2003, Relationship between nutrition, alcohol use and liver disease National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Vegetable oil, coconut SELFNutritiondata
- Clegg ME, 2010, Medium-chain triglycerides are advantageous in promoting weight loss although not beneficial to exercise performance PubMed
- Gracey M, 1970, Medium Chain Triglycerides in Paediatric Practice PubMed Central
- Samra RA, Fats and Satiety Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects
- Vignes S et al, 2008, Primary intestinal lymphangiectasia (Waldmann’s disease) PubMed Central
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- Medium-chain triglycerides MedicineNet
Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA)
What are medium-chain fatty acids?
Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) contain 6-12 carbon (C) atoms.
- Hexanoic or caproic acid (C6)
- Octanoic or caprylic acid (C8)
- Decanoic or capric acid (C10)
- Dodecanoic or lauric acid (C12)
All the above short-chain fatty acids are saturated. They provide 8.3 Calories per gram .
Foods High in MCFA
Foods high in MCFA [1,2]:
- Coconut milk (1/2 cup, 120 mL): 15 g
- Palm-kernel oil (1 tbsp, 13.6 g): 8 g
- Coconut oil (1 tbsp, 13.6 g): 8 g
- Cheese, feta (100 g): 3 g
- Butter (1 tbsp, 14 g): 1.2 g
Chart 1. Composition of coconut oil
(One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 12.8 g of fatty acids)
|SATURATED FA (11.8 g)||MONO-UNSATURATED FA (0.8 g)||POLY-UNSATURATED FA (0.2 g)|
|Medium-chain FA (7.9 g)||Long-chain FA (3.8 g)|
|-Lauric acid (6.1 g)||-Myristic acid (2.3 g)||-Oleic acid (0.8 g)||-Linoleic acid (0.2 g)|
|-Caprylic acid (1 g)||-Palmitic acid (1.1 g)|
|-Caproic acid (0.8 g)||-Stearic acid (0.4 g)|
Chart 1 reference: SELFNutritionData 
MCFA can be quickly absorbed from the small intestine, even in the absence of the digestive enzyme pancreatic lipase (in this case MCFA are absorbed as triglycerides – the form as found in foods) and even when bile salts are less available (in liver disease or bile duct stones); this is why MCFA are a useful source of calories in disorders with fat malabsorption . In patients with surgically removed small intestine, MCFA can be absorbed in the colon .
MCFAs as Food Additives
Free MCFAs, such as caproic acid, have an unpleasant odor, but MCFA esters, such as caproate, have a pleasant odor and may be used as food flavors.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) in the oil form are available without prescription (over-the-counter). They are semi-synthesized from palm or coconut oil.
Special MCT supplements to be used as part of MCT ketogenic diet are available by prescription.
Medium-Chain Fatty Acids Supplements Benefits
MCFA are EFFECTIVE in providing calories for patients fed by intravenous nutritional infusions .
MCFA are POSSIBLY EFFECTIVE in:
- Increasing satiety (more than long-chain fatty acids) 
- Preventing certain types of seizures in children [4,6,19,20]
- Preventing the rupture of lymphatic vessels in primary intestinal lymphangiectasia or Waldmann’s disease (in combination with a low-fat diet) .
- Preventing muscle breakdown in critical illness (when given as an intravenous infusion) .
- Providing calories to patients with fat malabsorption due to liver or bile duct disease, cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or after extensive surgical removal of the small intestine .
- Treating hereditary hyperlipidemias, such as hyperlipoprotein lipase deficiency .
MCFA are POSSIBLY INEFFECTIVE in preventing weight loss in HIV/AIDS and increasing athletic performance [10,11,15,20].
There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE about the effectiveness of MCFA in prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, fatty liver , chylothorax (a rare lung disorder)  and ischemic heart disease or in decreasing body fat, improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium, decreasing high cholesterol , increasing lean muscle or promoting weight loss [4,7,8,9,10,12].
It is not clear, if coconut oil has any harmful or protecting effect on heart. Health authorities, such as Harvard Medical School and American Heart Association recommend avoiding regular use of coconut oil (and palm and palm-kernel oil) because it increases the blood levels of total and LDL cholesterol.
MCFA Safety: Side Effects, Toxicity
MCFA are PROBABLY SAFE for most adults. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, essential fatty acid deficiency .
Who should not take MCFA supplements?
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women and individuals with a liver disease 
- Diabetics. MCFA tend to produce ketones and metabolic acidosis .
- Patients with liver cirrhosis 
MCFA and Cooking
MCFA have a low smoking point and easily foam, so oils high in MCFA, such as coconut and palm-kernel oil, are not suitable for deep frying .
- FATTY ACIDS
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Arachidonic acid (AA)
- Linoleic acid
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
- Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)
- Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs)
- Long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs)
- Very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs)
- Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)
- Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS)
- Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)
- Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO)
- Isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMO)
- Mannan oligosaccharides (MOS)
- Raffinose, stachyose, verbascose
- SOLUBLE FIBER:
- Acacia (arabic) gum
- Beta mannan
- Carageenan gum
- Carob or locust bean gum
- Fenugreek gum
- Gellan gum
- Glucomannan or konjac gum
- Guar gum
- Karaya gum
- Psyllium husk mucilage
- Resistant starches
- Tara gum
- Tragacanth gum
- Xanthan gum
- INSOLUBLE FIBER:
- Chitin and chitosan
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
- Vitamin A - Retinol and retinal
- Vitamin B1 - Thiamine
- Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
- Vitamin B3 - Niacin
- Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
- Vitamin B7 - Biotin
- Vitamin B9 - Folic acid
- Vitamin B12 - Cobalamin
- Vitamin C - Ascorbic acid
- Vitamin D - Ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol
- Vitamin E - Tocopherol
- Vitamin K - Phylloquinone
- Flavanols: Proanthocyanidins
- Flavanones: Hesperidin
- Flavonols: Quercetin
- Flavones: Diosmin, Luteolin
- Isoflavones: daidzein, genistein
- Caffeic acid
- Chlorogenic acid
- Tannic acid
- Alcohol chemical and physical properties
- Alcoholic beverages types (beer, wine, spirits)
- Denatured alcohol
- Alcohol absorption, metabolism, elimination
- Alcohol and body temperature
- Alcohol and the skin
- Alcohol, appetite and digestion
- Neurological effects of alcohol
- Alcohol, hormones and neurotransmitters
- Alcohol and pain
- Alcohol, blood pressure, heart disease and stroke
- Women, pregnancy, children and alcohol
- Alcohol tolerance
- Alcohol, blood glucose and diabetes
- Alcohol intolerance, allergy and headache
- Alcohol and psychological disorders
- Alcohol and vitamin, mineral and protein deficiency
- Alcohol-drug interactions
- Moderate, heavy, binge drinking
- Alcohol intoxication
- Alcohol poisoning
- Alcohol and gastrointestinal tract
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Long-term effects of excessive alcohol drinking
- Alcohol craving and alcoholism
- Alcohol withdrawal