Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)Beneficial Effects on Energy, Atherosclerosis and Aging
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are a unique form of dietary fat that impart a wide range of positive health benefits. Nevertheless, the potential anti-aging properties of MCTs have been largely unrecognized by many life extension enthusiasts. Dietary fats are molecules composed of individual carbon atoms linked into chains ranging from 2 to 22 carbon atoms in length. Long Chain Fatty acids (LCTs) ranging from 12 to 18 carbons long are the predominant form of fat in the American diet. MCTs, by contrast, are composed of only 6 to 10 carbon links. Because of their shorter chain length, MCTs have a number of unique properties which give them advantages over the more common LCTs.
Until the early 1980s, MCTs were predominantly available only as a constituent of butter, coconut oil, and other natural sources. However, Dr. Vigen K. Babayan of the Nutrition Laboratory, Harvard University, developed a process to produce them in large quantities, to be used primarily for therapeutic uses in a number of conditions. (1)
MCTs, Energy and Exercise
MCTs provide about ten percent fewer calories than LCTs – 8.3 calories per gram for MCTs versus 9 calories per gram for LCTs. But this is just one of the unique advantages of MCTs. (2) More importantly, reduced chain length also means that MCTs are more rapidly absorbed by the body and more quickly metabolized (burned) as fuel (Fig. 1). The result of this accelerated metabolic conversion is that instead of being stored as fat, the calories contained in MCTs are very efficiently converted into fuel for immediate use by organs and muscles.