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Coconut Oil: The Drugstore in a Bottle

//Coconut Oil: The Drugstore in a Bottle

Coconut Oil: The Drugstore in a Bottle

Coconut oil is a unique source of fat because unlike the long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) found in nuts and olive oil, coconut oil is mainly comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). Enterocytes can directly absorb the MCFAs via the portal circulation as opposed to LCFA, which have to be packaged into balls of lipids called chylomicrons and distributed around the body.

The liver oxidizes MCFAs immediately to generate energy, which may be the mechanism behind how MCFAs increase satiety and decrease consumption. The ketone bodies produced in the liver can be directly used to fuel the brain, resulting in improved cognitive functions. MCFAs can also decrease the activity of the enzyme Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL).This reduces fat storage because LPL’s primary goal is to distribute triglycerides into fat cells. Decreased fat deposition reduces obesity and weight gain.

In a literature search on PubMed, twelve articles were found in general regarding the effect of MCFAs on weight reduction. Two parameters were studied from these articles – weight gain and food consumption. Out of the twelve articles, seven saw a decrease in weight gain while the rest five articles found no difference. Additionally, in regards to food consumption, four articles found a decrease in food consumption, one found an increase and seven saw no change.

Perhaps the most interesting finding from the literature query is that diets that contained 34% MCFAs were effective in reducing weight and consumption, while diets that contained only 18% MCFA saw no change in either parameters. The bottom line is: the unique pathways for digestion and absorption of MCFAs supported by peer-reviewed scientific research reveal the benefits that MCFAs confer in increasing energy and weight maintenance. Long-term consumption of MCFAs may even change genetic expression to improve lipogenic ability.


  • Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. 12030. L. Ferreira et al. Review Article