Cliff Harvey PhD 

Coconut oil (CO) is the expressed oil from the flesh of the mature coconut. In comparison, MCT oil is purified oil containing (typically) C:8 (caprylic) and C:10 (capric) acids and sometimes C:6 (caproic) acid. Coconut Oil does contain medium-chain fatty acids from 6-12 chains in length and premium quality MCT oils are typically sourced from coconut oil (mainly due to the negative ecological impact of Palm Oil) but almost all of the MCT content of coconut oil comes from the C12 fatty acid, lauric acid.

Coconut oil and lauric acid itself has many health benefits including improved HDL (“good”) cholesterol and reduced midsection fat,(1-3) but because of the slightly longer chain-length of lauric acid, less is transported directly to the liver when compared to the other MCTs (around 64% vs 90%+)(4) and if it escapes the usual digestion route and makes its way to circulation as a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) lauric acid is less easily utilised by neurons as a fuel than shorter chain fats.

So, while coconut oil is a healthy oil to include in the diet, which can also help to boost ketones, it is less effective for this than pure MCT oil.  

Check out our favourite MCTs by Melrose Health and coconut oil products by PureCoco



  1. Assunção M, Ferreira H, dos Santos A, Cabral C, Jr., Florêncio TMT. Effects of Dietary Coconut Oil on the Biochemical and Anthropometric Profiles of Women Presenting Abdominal Obesity. Lipids. 2009;44(7):593-601.
  2. Ekanayaka RAI, Ekanayaka NK, Perera B, De Silva PGSM. Impact of a Traditional Dietary Supplement with Coconut Milk and Soya Milk on the Lipid Profile in Normal Free Living Subjects. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2013;2013:11.
  3. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB. Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;77(5):1146-55.
  4. Bloom B, Chaikoff IL, Reinhardt WO. Intestinal lymph as pathway for transport of absorbed fatty acids of different chain lengths. American Journal of Physiology--Legacy Content. 1951;166(2):451-5.


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