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Does it matter if my MCT oil came from Coconut oil or Palm oil?

Posted by Sundar Subramaniam on

It does not. Let's see why.

MCT oil is a combination of medium chain fatty acids that contain 8, 10 and 12 Carbon atoms - C8 (Caprylic acid), C10 (Capric acid) and C12 (Lauric acid). While C12 is technically a medium chain fatty acid, in terms of how it functions it is actually a long chain. That's why you need to look for an MCT oil that is almost completely C8 and C10 only. More information is available in my other blog on the subject.

Coconut oil is about 9% C10 and 6% C8. By using a process called 'Fractionation', it is possible to separate the C8 and C10 fatty acids from Coconut oil. The MCT oil so manufactured is also called Fractionated Coconut oil. People tend to confuse this oil with the Coconut oil itself. Cheap versions of this MCT oil will also include C12 since it is available in abundance (about 50%) within the Coconut oil and can be separated using the same fractionation process.

The Coconut tree and Palm tree are actually cousins within the palm family. However, Palm oil has practically no C8 and C10, and only has traces of C12. It is mostly made up of C15 and C18 chains. Therefore, one can't obtain MCT oil by fractionating Palm oil. However, it is possible to combine Palm oil with coconut/ palm derived Glycerin in a process called 'esterification' to obtain the C8 and C10 chains. This process is generally cheaper than fractionation.Typically a mix of Coconut and Palm oils is used to obtain MCT oil in this method. (It is necessary to be sure that the esterification process is done in a responsible manner from a health and environment perspective. That is why, MCT oil manufactured using the esterification method is subject to the REACH regulation).

Thus, the MCT oil made from only Coconut oil is likely to have come from the Fractionation process and the one that came from Palm oil (or a mix of Coconut and Palm oils) is likely to have come from the esterification process. Regardless, as long as our objective is to get a blend of C8 and C10 fatty acids, it doesn't matter where they came from. The end product has no Coconut oil or Palm oil left in it.

I would rather go by purity, color and taste in choosing my MCT oil. And, of course, I would check if there is any C12 in it.

Sundar S.



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