You probably realize that “C8 MCT oil” is different from “regular MCT oil” (read: coconut oil). But how different? The short answer is that regular MCT oil contains all four medium-chain fatty acids (C6, C8, C10, C12) at varying concentrations [*], while C8 MCT oil is 100% pure caprylic acid (the C8 fatty acid).
In general, fatty acids can have anywhere from one to 30 carbon atoms in them, each of them with unique biochemical properties [*]. “C8” refers to the eight carbon chain that characterizes this specific fatty acid.
As a result, manufacturers have taken to purifying MCT oil derived from coconuts so it contains only caprylic acid. That’s because caprylic acid (C8) seems to be the most metabolically active medium-chain fatty acid [*]. But we’ll come back to this. First, a little more about MCTs and the fatty acids used to build them.
What Are MCTs?
MCTs are a special type of fat that your body can convert quickly into energy. They provide a host of benefits for people seeking active and healthier lifestyles. A single MCT molecule is made up of three fatty acids and one glycerol. The three fatty acids attached to the glycerol each have a medium-length chain of carbon atoms ranging from 7 to 12. Their overall medium size makes them unique. This figure will help:
In this case, three identical fatty acids (lauric acid - C12) bind with glycerol to make an MCT. But not all three fatty acids need to be lauric acid to make an MCT. They can be any one of the medium-chain fatty acids (see below). So in a different MCT molecule, we might have two caprylic fatty acids and one capric fatty acid held together by a glycerol molecule.
There are four different kinds of MCTs [*]:
- Caproic acid (C6)
- Caprylic acid (C8)
- Capric acid (C10)
- Lauric acid (C12)
Caproic Acid (C6) is an oily liquid at room temperature [*] and boosts the production of blood ketones. It’s found in animal fats and several plants. It is slightly soluble in water and has an unpleasant odor [*].
Caprylic Acid (C8) has been shown to increase energy, boost ketone production, and facilitate weight loss [*][*][*]. It possesses cancer-fighting and antimicrobial properties [*][*][*].
Capric Acid (C10) has many of the same properties of caprylic acid (C8) (e.g., boosts ketones, is antimicrobial, and can help reduce body fat [*], but generally takes a bit longer for the body to process into ketones [*].
Lauric Acid (C12) is a major component of coconut oil. Like C8 and C10, lauric acid also possesses antimicrobial properties [*]. But because it’s a bigger molecule (more carbon atoms connected together), it takes even longer to break down and therefore isn’t optimal for ketone production.
MCTs are broken down more quickly than longer-chained triglycerides. For instance, a large portion of MCTs pass directly into the portal vein (which services the gastrointestinal tract) and are transported directly to the liver (in the blood). In contrast, long-chain fatty acids must be taken up by chylomicron triglycerides and enter the blood via the lymph system [*][*]. Once in the liver, fatty acids are converted into ketones before being discharged back into the blood where they are transported for other cells to use, especially by your brain [*].
Benefits of Pure Caprylic Acid (C8)
If you don't mind paying a little extra for the concentrated version of MCT oil (that is, C8 MCT oil), then go for it. It's like higher octane fuel, a turbocharged car, or a supersonic jet. The difference (and benefits) are noticeable, but not essential. Here are some of the top benefits:
- Flavorless so you can add it to all of your favorite beverages without worry.
- Boosts metabolism, helping to increase energy (via up-regulation of the key genes expression pathways) [*][*]
- Supports weight loss
- Helps regulate appetite
- Can be beneficial for random ailments like tooth infections, frequent urination, and respiratory infections [*].
For a more detailed look, check out the full list of benefits of MCT oil.
Can’t I Just Eat Coconut Oil?
Sure you can! But you will need to consume much higher amounts to get the same effects as you would from taking concentrated C8/C10 MCT oil. That’s because while coconut oil contains approximately 65% MCTs, 50% of that is lauric acid (C12) and only around 14% (combined) is C8 and C10 [*]. This means that 100% pure C8 MCT oil is nearly ten times more concentrated than regular MCT oil (e.g., coconut oil).
With that said, coconut oil is still a great source of MCTs. For example, research shows that lauric acid (the fatty acid that makes up about 50% of coconut oil) is still considered an MCT and is effective at killing viruses, yeast, and bacteria [*]. In addition, it offers protection against cancer and cardiovascular disease [*][*].
Buying C8 MCT oil
First things first—check the purity. If the product is being sold as “pure,” then it better disclose the ingredients. Ideally, the ingredients list should be short. As in it only contains C8 and C10 fatty acids. Next, make sure there's no additives, fillers, or flavorings. These can dilute the oil and reduce potency. If other oils are included in the ingredients, make sure this is reflected in the price point. Don’t pay premium for a less than premium oil.
Note: Some products contain high amounts of C6 caproic acid, which can cause upset stomach and lead to diarrhea or nausea. So double check the ingredients list and grab the product with the lowest C6 (if you can't find any without it).
FBOMB sells Premium MCT Oil that is 60% caprylic acid (C8) and 40% capric acid (C10).
Have you tried it yet? Share your experience with others on Instagram!
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Wouldn’t the best coconut oil be the one that is liquid at room temperature as sold in supermarkets? I believe they had all the C12 (lauric acid) removed which leaves all C6, C8 and C10 which are the fatty acids that boost ketone production. Might be a cheaper alternative to the expensive MCT oils being sold.
Is there any research showing benefits of this Oil combo for Alzheimers patients??
Very well written, great ref. tool!
Thank you for the breakdown of what C8 MCT Oil is and does. We received C8MCT Oil as a gift but had no clue what is was or what it does. Thank you for educating me in a clear, easy way I could understand!