Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a flavorless ingredient that acts as a carrier oil while also offering a neutral odor and long shelf life. Widely used for its therapeutic properties1 and antimicrobial2 and anti-inflammatory effects,3 MCT oil may be the ideal ingredient to elevate a brand’s CBD products.
As MCTs have become essential dietary supplement and personal care additives worldwide and consumers learn their benefits, an excellent opportunity exists for manufacturers in the CBD industry to invest in this ingredient. MCTs can be incorporated as a high-quality carrier or emollient in the formulation of natural CBD cosmetics and dietary supplements.
What MCTs are
As health trends have grown across the U.S. and around the world, MCTs have skyrocketed in popularity. Composed of six to 12 carbons that are fatty-acid esters of glycerol, their short length enables the body to absorb the oil efficiently.4 MCTs passively diffuse from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract into the portal vein without requiring the modification that long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) or very-LCFAs do.4
MCTs are produced in the U.S., Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of the world from vegetable oil fatty acids from natural sources. MCT oil is most commonly derived from palm kernel oil and coconut oil. With both sources, the extraction process is called fractionation and it separates MCT oil into a concentrate. The four types of MCTs include the commonly used caprylic acid and capric acid.
How MCTs are used
MCTs have many applications across the personal care, aromatherapy and cosmetic industries. MCT oil may be used as a stand-alone product or added to lotions, creams, foams, topical aerosols, ointments, cleansing oils, bath scrubs, makeup and CBD oil. MCT oil is a go-to carrier oil for CBD products and CBD tinctures, as MCT is absorbed into the bloodstream faster than longer-chain fatty acids.4 MCTs are also versatile enough to be incorporated into food and beverage products, with the possibility to offer science-backed functionality.
The potential benefits of MCTs
Clinical research around MCT oil surrounds health benefits such as aiding in weight loss,5 energy6 and heart health,7 and potentially playing a role in alleviating inflammation3 and mitigating other issues.8
Among MCT oil’s areas of influence, weight loss ranks high on the list because of the extensive amount of research. In clinical trials, MCT oil has been shown to promote the feeling of fullness, to help reduce body weight and waist circumference, to reduce or prevent obesity, and to help the body burn extra calories.5
Excess body weight can contribute to heart disease, so by aiding weight loss and with the potential to help reduce inflammation,3 MCT oil may bolster heart health.7 A clinical trial around MCT oil consumption and metabolic profile suggested MCT oil is a crucial ingredient to help reduce the risk factors for heart disease, with the potential to aid in maintaining healthy blood pressure.7
Research has also indicated a promising role for MCTs with specific issues, including epilepsy and autism. One study explored the ability of MCTs to offer increased seizure control.8 Another study showed positive improvements for people with autism who incorporated MCTs into their diet, tracking results over six months.9 Other studies have assessed MCTs’ ability to influence memory loss and help patients in an Alzheimer’s disease population.10
Although more clinical research is needed to further prove any links between MCT oil and benefitting inflammation or other adverse indications,3 it stands to reason that MCT would be a positive addition to the diet. It provides an immediate source of…
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