What is Fractionated Coconut Oil : Production Process, Use, Benefits, Side Effects

Everyone knows the many health benefits of coconut oil. It is incredibly healthy not just for your hair and skin, but also for your teeth, digestive system, and offers many other health benefits. Coconut oil consists of many medium-chain fatty acids that are known to have a powerful effect on the body’s metabolism. Fractionated coconut oil, on the other hand, is manufactured from coconut oil itself, but it consists mainly of two medium-chain fatty acids. Fractionated coconut oil is also marketed as coconut oil itself, with the main difference being that it can remain in its liquid form even when refrigerated. Read on to know more about what is fractionated coconut oil, and is it good for you.

What is Fractionated Coconut Oil?

What is Fractionated Coconut Oil?

Fractionated coconut oil is also a type of coconut oil itself. In fact, it is even made from regular coconut oil only. Both fractionated coconut oil and ordinary coconut oil are excellent sources of medium-chain triglycerides that provide fatty acids containing 6 to 12 carbon atoms. The main difference in fractionated coconut oil is that the primary fatty acid composition is significantly different than what is present in regular coconut oil.

In regular coconut oil, the main fatty acid present is the 12-carbon lauric acid, commonly known as C12. In fractionated coconut oil, most or nearly all of this C12 fatty acid is removed.

The long-chain fatty acids that are commonly found in regular coconut oil are also eliminated from fractionated coconut oil. So, the primary medium-chain fatty acids that are present in fractionated coconut oil include:

  • C8 – caprylic acid or octanoic acid
  • C10 – decanoic acid or capric acid

Medium-chain fatty acids present in fractionated coconut oil are also metabolized in a different manner in the body as compared to other fats.

These fats get transported directly to the liver from the digestive tract, where they may be used by the body as a quick source of energy. Research by the Hospital for Sick Children in Canada has shown that these medium-chain fatty acids can also be changed into ketone bodies, which are substances that are believed to have healing effects in people with epilepsy.(1)

Fractionated oil is believed to be very similar or sometimes even identical to medium-chain triglycerides oil (MCT oil).

Production Process of Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil is made through the fractionation process. The process of fractionation is used to separating different types of fats that are found naturally in some oils. The process is usually carried out for manufacturing new products from the existing oil.(2) This is made possible by the different melting points of various types of fats. For example, long-chain fatty acids and lauric acid tend to have a higher melting point than capric acid and caprylic acid. This is why they solidify sooner when they are cooled down.

The fractionation of coconut oil is carried out by raising its temperature above its melting point. After this, the oil is allowed to cool down, and the solid fraction of the oil is separated from the liquid part. It can take several hours for the whole process of fractionation of coconut oil to get completed.

Use of Fractionated Coconut oil in Weight Loss

A diet that is high in medium-chain triglycerides, which is the major component of fractionated coconut oil, is believed to help people lose weight. There have been many studies carried out to determine the effect of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss. It is thought that they help in weight loss because of the following reasons:

  • They decrease hunger and limit calorie intake(3, 4)
  • They help you burn more calories and fat(5, 6)
  • They are far less likely to end up stored as fat(7)

However, you cannot completely depend on these medium-chain triglycerides for weight loss because the amount of weight you end up losing is actually very modest.

A review of 13 studies found that medium-chain triglycerides decreased body weight by only an average of 1.1 pounds (0.5 kilos) over a period of three weeks when compared to other healthy fats.(8)

Other Health Benefits of Fractionated Coconut Oil

The medium-chain triglycerides present in fractionated coconut oil are known for having many other health benefits. These include:

Used in Treating Epilepsy: Children with epilepsy have been found to benefit from following a ketogenic diet that is enriched with medium-chain triglycerides. Adding these medium-chain triglycerides allows them to consume more protein and carbohydrates, which makes it easier for the kids to follow the diet.(9, 10)

Decreased Insulin Resistance: A small study determined that taking medium-chain triglycerides may help reduce insulin resistance and also improve other risk factors in people who are overweight and have diabetes. However, there is a lack of research to confirm this effect.(11)

Improved Brain Function: A study found that in some people who have mild to moderate, or just starting stage Alzheimer’s disease, medium-chain triglycerides may help improve their brain function. However, again, more studies are needed to confirm this effect.(12)

Are There Any Side Effects of Fractionated Coconut Oil?

Consuming fractionated coconut oil is believed to be safe for most people. However, some people have reported experiencing some digestive symptoms after having fractionated coconut oil. These include:

These symptoms appear to be particularly common in children who are following a medium-chain triglycerides ketogenic diet.(13)

Conclusion

Fractionated coconut oil is believed to have some health benefits, especially in helping you lose weight. This type of coconut oil is more processed than ordinary coconut oil, and one of the most beneficial fats in coconut oil, lauric acid, is eliminated from fractionated coconut oil. While fractionated coconut oil is growing in popularity, it is always better to consult your doctor before including anything new to your diet, especially if you have an existing health condition.

References:

  1. Liu, Y.M.C., 2008. Medium‐chain triglyceride (MCT) ketogenic therapy. Epilepsia, 49, pp.33-36.
  2. Hamm, W., 1995. Trends in edible oil fractionation. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 6(4), pp.121-126.
  3. St-Onge, M.P., Mayrsohn, B., O’Keeffe, M., Kissileff, H.R., Choudhury, A.R. and Laferrère, B., 2014. Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men. European journal of clinical nutrition, 68(10), pp.1134-1140.
  4. Van Wymelbeke, V., Himaya, A., Louis-Sylvestre, J. and Fantino, M., 1998. Influence of medium-chain and long-chain triacylglycerols on the control of food intake in men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 68(2), pp.226-234.
  5. St-Onge, M.P. and Jones, P.J.H., 2003. Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue. International journal of obesity, 27(12), pp.1565-1571.
  6. St-Onge, M.P. and Jones, P.J., 2002. Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity. The Journal of nutrition, 132(3), pp.329-332.
  7. Takeuchi, H., Sekine, S., Kojima, K. and Aoyama, T., 2008. The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition, 17.
  8. Mumme, K. and Stonehouse, W., 2015. Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(2), pp.249-263.
  9. Liu, Y.M. and Wang, H.S., 2013. Medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, an effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and a comparison with other ketogenic diets. Biomed J, 36(1), pp.9-15.
  10. Liu, Y.M.C., 2008. Medium‐chain triglyceride (MCT) ketogenic therapy. Epilepsia, 49, pp.33-36.
  11. Han, J.R., Deng, B., Sun, J., Chen, C.G., Corkey, B.E., Kirkland, J.L., Ma, J. and Guo, W., 2007. Effects of dietary medium-chain triglyceride on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in a group of moderately overweight free-living type 2 diabetic Chinese subjects. Metabolism, 56(7), pp.985-991.
  12. Sharma, A., Bemis, M. and Desilets, A.R., 2014. Role of medium chain triglycerides (Axona®) in the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias®, 29(5), pp.409-414.
  13. Liu, Y.M. and Wang, H.S., 2013. Medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, an effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and a comparison with other ketogenic diets. Biomed J, 36(1), pp.9-15.

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