The term MCFA may look complicated but it’s quite simple to understand.
Fatty acids have a ‘tail’ of carbon atoms and the more carbon atoms a fatty acid has, the more strenuous it is for the body to metabolise it. Fatty acids with less than 6 carbon atoms are known as short-chain fatty acids while those with more than 12 are known as long-chain fatty acids.
So medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are fatty acids with 6-12 carbon molecules. The thing is that most fat in your diet comprises long-chain fatty acids that are not easily broken down and this can strain your body. The body thus stores these fatty acids as fat deposits. MCFAs are quickly broken down by the body and converted into ketones, which are an energy source for the body including the brain. MCFAs typically comprise more than 60% of coconut oil.
Let’s have a look at the four different types of MCFAs.
C6 (Caproic Acid)
This is the shortest of the MCFAs with only six carbon molecules. It is converted into ketones faster than other MCFAs. C6 can cause digestive problems even in small doses and has an unpleasant smell.
C8 (Caprylic Acid)
This MCFA has eight carbon molecules and converts to ketones very fast. It is useful in fuelling your brain and suppressing hunger. It is odourless when processed and much easier on your stomach., eggs, cream, cheese, liver and other meats, but have low incidents of heart disease.
C10 (Capric Acid)
The liver takes longer to convert C10 into ketones because of the 10 carbon molecules. It also gives you an energy and mental boost. C10 is cheaper to produce than C8.
C12 (Lauric Acid)
C12 behaves more like a long chain fatty acid because of the 12 carbon molecules. C12 is not easily converted into ketones by the liver so it may not give an energy or mental boost. However, lauric acid really assists the body to fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi. The lauric acid in virgin coconut oil is typically 40-50%.
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4. MCT Oil 101 – A Review of Medium-Chain Triglycerides | Authority Nutrition