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What Is Fractionated Coconut Oil Good For?

Health + Wellness
What Is Fractionated Coconut Oil Good For?
belchonock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Hrefna Palsdottir, MS

Coconut oil is an incredibly healthy fat.


It's rich in several medium-chain fatty acids that can have powerful effects on your metabolism.

Fractionated coconut oil is made from coconut oil and mainly consists of two medium-chain fatty acids.

It has been marketed as a coconut oil that can stay in liquid form in the fridge.

This is a detailed review of fractionated coconut oil and its health effects.

What is Fractionated Coconut Oil?

Fractionated coconut oil is an oil made from regular coconut oil.

Both regular and fractionated coconut oils are great sources of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), providing fatty acids that contain 6 to 12 carbon atoms.

However, their fatty acid composition is vastly different.

While the main fatty acid in coconut oil is the 12-carbon lauric acid (C12), most or all of this fatty acid has been removed from fractionated coconut oil.

The long-chain fatty acids present in coconut oil have also been eliminated.

Thus, the main medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in fractionated coconut oil are:

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

MCFAs are metabolized differently than other fats.

They're transported directly to the liver from the digestive tract, where they may be used as a quick source of energy. They can also be turned into ketone bodies, which are compounds that may have therapeutic effects in those with epilepsy (1Trusted Source).

Fractionated coconut oil is tasteless, odorless, and usually more expensive than regular coconut oil.

It's very similar or even identical to MCT oil.

Summary

Fractionated coconut oil is made from regular coconut oil and mainly consists of the medium-chain fatty acids caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10).

How is Fractionated Coconut Oil Made?

Fractionated coconut oil is produced via a process called fractionation.

Fractionation is used to separate different types of fats that are naturally found in some oils. It's often done to make new products for consumers (2).

The different melting points of various fats make fractionation possible.

For example, lauric acid and long-chain fatty acids have higher melting points than caprylic acid and capric acid. Therefore, they will become solid sooner when cooled.

The fractionation of coconut oil is carried out by heating the oil above its melting point. Then, it's left to cool, and the solid fraction of the oil is separated from the liquid.

The whole process of fractionation can take several hours.

Summary

A process called fractionation is used to produce fractionated coconut oil. This method uses the different melting points of fats to separate them.

Fractionated Coconut Oil May Help You Lose Weight

A diet high in MCTs, the main component of fractionated coconut oil, may aid weight loss.

Most studies on this effect replaced other fats in the diet with MCTs.

MCTs may help you lose weight because they:

However, the amount of weight lost is generally quite modest.

One review of 13 studies found that MCTs reduced body weight by an average of 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg) over three weeks, compared with other fats (10Trusted Source).

The authors also noted that about half of these studies were funded by MCT oil producers. Therefore, there is a high risk of bias.

Summary

Eating a diet rich in MCTs may lead to modest weight loss by helping you eat less and burn more fat. MCTs are also lesslikely to be stored as fat.

Other Potential Health Benefits

The MCTs in fractionated coconut oil have been associated with several other health benefits, including:

  • Reduced insulin resistance: One small study found that taking MCTs may reduce insulin resistance and improve other risk factors in people with diabetes and excess weight. More studies are needed to confirm this effect (11Trusted Source).
  • Epilepsy treatment: Children with epilepsy may benefit from a ketogenic diet enriched with MCTs. Adding the MCTs may allow them to eat more carbs and protein, making the diet easier to stick to (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
  • Improved brain function: One study reported that in some people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, MCTs may improve brain function. However, further studies are needed (14Trusted Source ).

Summary

The MCTs in fractionated coconut oil have been suggested to enhance exercise performance and improve various health conditions. However, more research is needed.

Most Fractionated Coconut Oils Don't Contain Lauric Acid

Lauric acid is a major component of coconut oil. In fact, the oil comprises about 50% lauric acid and is one of the world's richest dietary sources of this saturated fat.

Lauric acid has been linked to many health benefits. It may kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi while protecting against various infections (15, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

Most fractionated coconut oils do not contain any lauric acid, or only very small amounts of it.

Thus, fractionated coconut oil doesn't offer all of the health effects that regular coconut oil does.

Summary

Fractionated coconut oil is able to stay in liquid form because its lauric acid has been removed. Thus, the oil does not offer lauric acid's many health benefits.

How Is It Used?

Fractionated coconut oil has been marketed under three different names.

You may know it as:

  • Fractionated coconut oil: This oil is mainly used for various household and personal care purposes, such as a moisturizer, hair conditioner, and massage oil.
  • MCT oil: It's often used as a dietary supplement, with 1–3 tablespoons per day being a common dosage recommendation.
  • Liquid coconut oil: This oil is advertised as an edible cooking oil.

Ultimately, these are the same product that has been marketed for different consumer uses.

Summary

Fractionated coconut oil is also marketed as MCT oil and liquid coconut oil, but fundamentally, these are all the same product. Its uses include skin care and cooking.

Safety and Side Effects

Consuming fractionated coconut oil appears to be safe for most people.

However, there have been reports of people experiencing digestive symptoms.

These include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting, and they seem particularly common in children on an MCT-enriched ketogenic diet (18Trusted Source).

Although extremely rare, there have been a few cases of people with coconut and coconut oil allergy (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

These people may experience adverse reactions when consuming fractionated coconut oil.

Summary

Fractionated coconut oil is well tolerated by most people. However, it may cause digestive problems in some cases, as well as adverse symptoms in people who are allergic to coconut products.

The Bottom Line

Fractionated coconut oil is made by separating the different types of fats in regular coconut oil.

What remains are two medium-chain fatty acids that may lead to modest weight loss and several other health benefits.

While fractionated coconut oil may offer some benefits, it's more processed than the regular kind. Plus, lauric acid, one of the most beneficial fats, has been removed.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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