08 Jul

I think supplements are a bit like graduate school – a great example of how intermittent reinforcement can work to get you hooked on an activity or substance. I haven’t had much luck with supplements, but what luck I did have was spectacular, hence the “intermittent” aspect. (More on that further down the post.) Lately I have been trying out medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil).

If you believe what you read online then this stuff is a miraculous ingredient that does everything but shine your shoes; I own very few pairs of shoes that need to be shined, so perhaps I should not be surprised to find that for me medium chain triglycerides, while they may be beneficial in the long term, seem to have zero effect at all in the short term. And making mayonnaise with it has been a major failure so far.

Lots of people tout the oil for its energy-giving properties, some people even complaining of a wierd, caffeine-like rush shortly after ingesting it. Others claim that they reacted badly to it, running to the bathroom for copious relief. Maybe what I got is the placebo control substance because I can’t see anything at all in the way of an immediate reaction.

One site (which I won’t link to) headlines its article on MCT oil this way: This Food is Like Rocket Fuel for Your Brain and Metabolism and then goes on to say in the first paragraph that “I hate hype. You can go through my past headlines and you’ll clearly see that I’m not a sensationalist. In fact, it’s the hype and sensationalism that turn me off from reading most magazines.” According to this proponent of non-hype the “MCTs improve blood sugar regulation (yay!), improve metabolism (especially fat metabolism), may improve thyroid function, improve appetite regulation, and are used to treat many ailments (Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, seizures, cystic fibrosis, etc.)” And “If you want to feel the effects of this for yourself, put a tablespoon of MCTs in your coffee — or really go for it all and make bulletproof coffee (or tea). Seriously, this an effect you WILL feel — and it feels like you gave your body rocket fuel.” All I can say is that as far as my body is concerned, this seems to be untrue; I don’t feel anything.

Of course, many of the benefits of oils don’t make themselves visible right away, and sometimes I think that they don’t make a difference at all if you are already eating a diet that isn’t deficient in the right ones. I eat very little Omega 6 – really only what I get in my meats, and most of them are from grass-fed animals; I’m getting a pretty good O3: O6 ratio, I think. I already eat sardines and I take a bit of cod liver oil daily too as well as a fish oil supplement. In fact, those are the only supplements I take on a regular basis, except for what is to me the king of them all – magnesium.

To Marion Nestle, who is always ranting about how you should not take supplements because the industry is corrupt and has no oversight (the latter part is true, unfortunately) with the result that any benefits you see are from the placebo effect, I say SMOKE THIS: if the magnesium’s effect on me is placebo, why does it work when I am sleeping? If I don’t take extra magnesium I get terrible cramps in my calves while I am asleep. If I take the supplement, I get no pains. Nestle also says, as part of her “Moderation is best” mantra (which I believe is often a cop-out argument, no matter who uses it) that you can get all the “supplements” you need by just eating a healthy diet (in her case, lots of “healthy whole grains” and vegetables, and maybe a bit of meat now and then). Sorry Marion, there’s no way I could get as much magnesium as it takes to stop the cramps by just eating a good diet.

(Or maybe she is right and the oil I am trying out is not really MCT oil; unfortunately (again), because there is no oversight on this industry we are at the mercy of these companies, trusting that what they say is in the bottle is actually there. All you can do, really, is try to stick with companies that seem to offer a good product. NOW’s magnesium has certainly worked for me, so I’m using their MCT oil.)

For me the biggest disappointment with the MCT oil has been the way it doesn’t work to produce mayonnaise. I won’t buy mayo from the store because where I live I can’t find any that isn’t made with soy; all of the mayos that are touted as being made with olive oil only have a percentage of olive oil and the rest is soy or canola, or something worse. When I make mayo at home with extra virgin olive oil and my stick blender the process is really fast and it works, but I don’t like the taste of mayo made with extra virgin olive oil. The MCT oil is tasteless, so it seems like a great alternative, and lots of people online claim it works in their mayo. Well, it hasn’t worked in mine yet and I’m tired of trying to figure out how to use up batches of expensive liquid with patches of solids in them. Luckily the dogs like it, and it helps their coats (and probably lots of other things, too) since I can’t afford to feed them a meat/cooked veg diet made from scrach. (I have done that, and I really, really recommend it, but it’s pretty expensive. As a matter of fact, we reversed one dog’s kidney disease that way, and had the bloodwork done to prove it, but that’s another story.)

I am not done with the MCT oil yet, and I will certainly update this if I change my mind, but so far I’m not impressed.

Tyrannocaster’s young and monstrous rating: 1 claw down, one claw up.



Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Health, Recipes & ingredients


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4 responses to “MCT Oil

  1. lee

    July 23, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    I just use coconut oil to get MCTs — spending all that money for that guy’s branded oil seemed ridiculous to me (likewise his coffee). I don’t know if one can make mayo with it, though because I don’t like mayo enough to go through the trouble. I do like coffee with good butter and coconut oil and cream every morning as it gets me through hours of work. The coconut oil, over several months of use, has given me great skin (psoriasis flares are 90% gone). It worked really fast on my dog’s dry skin and intermittant alopecia — she now has a gorgeous coat and doesn’t lose chunks of it anymore. So far, the best source I’ve found for good CO is — their branded stuff.

  2. tyrannocaster

    July 24, 2014 at 4:30 am

    Lee, I think I agree with you on the coconut oil. I eat quite a bit of it already, and I suspect that any benefit that I might get from MCT oil I am already getting from the coconut oil. However, while I like mayonnaise the thought of *coconut-flavored* mayonnaise is pretty appalling. 🙂 I figured that even if the MCT wasn’t the Second Coming of Oils it would be good for mayo, and there are certainly lots of anecdotal mentions of people who have used it successfully for that, I’m just not one of them. At least the MCT oil is tasteless; it’s certainly easy to add it to things (salad dressing, etc.) but for me the question is “why bother?”

    I had similar improvements with the coconut oil, but I thought they were due also to the fact that I stopped eating wheat at the same time. Whatever, my dry skin and dandruff just went away. Hallelujah!

  3. Oolichan

    August 1, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Am so glad you wrote this article because I had a disaster trying to make mayonnaise with MCT oil as well. It turned out globby and icky, but seemed like such a great idea. I had successfully made mayonnaise with olive oil, but agree that the taste wasn’t that great.

    I have several recipes where I’m now substituting sour cream for the mayonnaise… ex: deviled eggs, casseroles, and even unwiches. Doesn’t always work, but in many cases it does.

    Also, having just read Dr. Terry Wahls’ most recent book, I’ve started drinking 1/2 – 1 cans of full-fat coconut milk nearly every day. (I buy the Goya brand because it has the fewest extra ingredients). Delicious!

  4. tyrannocaster

    August 1, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I am pleased to hear that our experiences with the MCT oil to make mayo are not total outliers; I really don’t understand why it failed, but I have no chemistry background to fall back on here. I do know that Mark Sisson said he made mayo with it without any problems, although he also said it sped him up like some sort of caffeine fix which he found unpleasant. I certainly haven’t experienced anything like that with it, but I can’t get it to make mayonnaise.

    We have been making mayo using light (later pressings) olive oil and it tastes a lot more like what I wanted when I first made it with extra-virgin oil. I find it odd that organic light oil is so expensive compared to organic extra-virgin, but we also may not have found the right store – could be that simple.

    As for the coconut milk, do you have the tetra-pak boxes of Aroy-D in your area? These things are GREAT; there’s no BPA because there’s no can, there’s no thickening agent added (it’s just coconut, that’s all), and the boxes come in a couple of different sizes – a small one (250 ml/8.5 ounce) and a larger box that holds a liter (34 ounces). We are able to get these at a local Thai grocery and even though they recently raised the price on them the small ones are still only $1.09 apiece. That’s a perfect size for many uses. According to the research I have done, getting organic coconut milk is not as important as, say, organic strawberries because the thick hull protects the meat and juice. I would still prefer an organic product for all sorts of reasons, but I’m very happy with the Aroy-D stuff.


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