What’s the Difference Between MCT Oil and Coconut Oil?
While their characteristics overlap, the two oils are made up of different compounds, so each has unique benefits and uses.
This article explains the similarities and differences between MCT oil and coconut oil and whether one is better for reaching specific goals.
What Are MCTs?
MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, are a type of saturated fat.
They are a natural component of many foods, including coconut oil and palm kernel oil, as well as dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
A triglyceride consists of three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule. These fatty acids are made up of carbon atoms linked together in chains that vary in length.
Most fatty acids in dietary triglycerides are long-chain, meaning they contain more than 12 carbon atoms.
In contrast, the fatty acids in MCTs have a medium length, containing 6–12 carbon atoms.
It's this difference in fatty acid chain length that makes MCTs unique. In contrast, most dietary sources of fat, such as fish, avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, are comprised of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).
The medium-chain length of MCTs doesn't require the enzymes or bile acids for digestion and absorption that LCTs require.
This allows MCTs to go straight to your liver, where they are rapidly digested and absorbed and either used for immediate energy or turned into ketones.
Ketones are compounds produced when your liver breaks down a lot of fat. Your body can use them for energy instead of glucose or sugar.
What's more, MCTs are less likely to be stored as fat and may promote weight loss better than other fatty acids.
Here are the four types of MCTs, listed in order of fatty acid chain length, from shortest to longest:
- caproic acid — 6 carbon atoms
- caprylic acid — 8 carbon atoms
- capric acid — 10 carbon atoms
- lauric acid — 12 carbon atoms
Some experts define MCT fatty acids as those that have a length of 6–10 carbon atoms instead of 12. That's because lauric acid is often classified as an LCT because it's digested and absorbed much slower than the other MCTs.
MCTs are a type of saturated fat that is rapidly digested and absorbed by your body.
MCT Oil vs. Coconut Oil
While they're similar, MCT and coconut oils have many differences, namely the proportion and types of MCT molecules they contain.
MCT oil contains 100% MCTs, making it a concentrated source.
It's made by refining raw coconut or palm oil to remove other compounds and concentrate the MCTs naturally found in the oils.
MCT oils generally contain 50–80% caprylic acid and 20–50% caproic acid.
Coconut oil is made from copra, the kernel or meat of coconuts.
It's the richest natural source of MCTs — they comprise about 54% of the fat in copra.
In addition to the MCTs, coconut oil contains LCTs and unsaturated fats.
Lauric acid behaves more like an LCT in terms of its slow digestion and absorption. Thus, experts suggest that coconut oil cannot be considered an MCT-rich oil, as is widely claimed, given its high lauric acid content.
MCT oil is a concentrated source of MCTs made from coconut or palm kernel oil. MCT oil contains 100% MCTs, compared with 54% in coconut oil.
MCT Oil is Better for Ketone Production and Weight Loss
MCT oil is popular among those following a keto diet, which is very low in carbs, moderate in protein, and high in fats.
The high intake of fat and low intake of carbs puts your body in a state of nutritional ketosis, in which it burns fat instead of glucose for fuel.
Compared with coconut oil, MCT oil is better for ketone production and maintaining ketosis. Fatty acids that promote the formation of ketones are called ketogenic.
One study in humans found that caprylic acid was three times more ketogenic than capric acid, and about six times more ketogenic than lauric acid.
MCT oil has much larger proportions of the more ketogenic MCTs than coconut oil, which contains the greatest concentration of lauric acid, the least ketogenic MCT.
What's more, MCTs may decrease the time it takes to reach nutritional ketosis and its associated symptoms, such as irritability and fatigue, compared with LCTs.
Several studies have also shown that MCT oil may aid fat loss by boosting metabolism and promoting greater feelings of fullness compared with coconut oil and LCTs.
MCT oil contains a greater proportion of ketogenic MCTs than coconut oil. MCT oil has also been shown to boost metabolism and promote fullness to a greater extent than coconut oil.
Coconut Oil is Better for Cooking, as Well as Beauty and Skin Care
While coconut oil has not been consistently shown to provide the same ketogenic or weight loss properties as pure MCT oil, it has other uses and benefits.
Coconut oil is an ideal cooking oil for stir-frying and pan-frying due to its high smoke point, which is higher than that of MCT oil.
The smoke point is the temperature at which fat begins to oxidize, negatively affecting the oil's taste and nutritional content.
Coconut oil has a smoke point of 350°F (177°C) compared with 302°F (150°C) for MCT oil.
Beauty and Skin Care
Coconut oil's high percentage of lauric acid makes it beneficial for beauty and skin care.
For example, lauric acid has strong antibacterial properties that have been shown to help treat acne in human cells.
Coconut oil has also been shown to improve the symptoms of atopic dermatitis (eczema), such as redness and itchiness, when applied to affected areas.
The skin-hydrating properties of coconut oil likewise make it useful for alleviating xerosis, a common skin condition characterized by dry and itchy skin.
Coconut oil has a higher smoke point than MCT oil, making it more suitable for cooking. The antibacterial and hydrating properties of coconut oil also make it beneficial for beauty and skin care.
Risks and Considerations
MCT oil and coconut oil are generally well-tolerated and safe when consumed in moderate amounts.
Excessive intake of MCT or coconut oil has been associated with stomach discomfort, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.
If you choose to supplement with MCT oil for its ketogenic and weight loss properties, start by taking 1 tablespoon (15 ml) per day and increase as tolerated to the maximum daily dose of 4–7 tablespoons (60–100 ml).
You can mix MCT oil easily into a variety of foods and beverages, including hot cereals, soups, sauces, smoothies, coffee, and tea.
MCT and coconut oil are generally safe but can produce gastrointestinal discomfort if consumed in excess. The maximum recommended dose is 4–7 tablespoons (60–100 ml) per day.
The Bottom Line
CT oil and coconut oil can both be beneficial — but for different uses.
MCT oil is a concentrated source of 100% MCTs that's more effective at boosting weight loss and energy production — especially if you're following a keto diet — than coconut oil.
Meanwhile, coconut oil has an MCT content of about 54%. It's best used as a cooking oil and may be beneficial for a variety of beauty applications and skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, and skin dryness.
Reposted with permission from Healthline.
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If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.
Size Matters<p>Climates are a bit like woven tapestries. The big picture is important, no question. But so are all the seemingly minor details found inside the larger whole.</p><p><a href="https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/tommaso-jucker" target="_blank">Tommaso Jucker</a> is an environmental scientist at the University of Bristol. In an email, Jucker says he'd define the term microclimate as "the suite of climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation) measured in localized areas, typically near the ground and at spatial scales that are directly relevant to ecological processes."</p><p>We'll talk about that last bit in a minute. But first, there's another criteria to discuss. According to some researchers, a microclimate — by definition — must differ from the larger area that surrounds it.</p><p><a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/paleoecologylab/publications/Davis_et_al_2019_Ecography.pdf" target="_blank">Forests</a> provide us with some great examples. "The climate near the ground in a tropical rainforest is dramatically different from the climate in the canopy 50 meters [164 feet] above," says University of Montana ecologist <a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/personnel/details.php?ID=1110" target="_blank">Solomon Dobrowski</a> in an email. "This vertical gradient among other factors allows for the staggering biodiversity we see in the tropics."</p><p>Likewise, scientists observed that a 2015 partial <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/bees-stopped-buzzing-during-2017-solar-eclipse.htm" target="_blank">solar eclipse</a> caused the air temperature of an Eastern European meadow to <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2802" target="_blank">change more dramatically</a> than it did in a nearby forest. That's because trees provide not only shade, but their leaves also reflect solar radiation. At the same time, forests tend to reduce wind speeds.</p><p>All those factors add up. A 2019 review of 98 wooded places — spread out across five continents — found that forests are 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) <a href="https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/47363-forests-protect-animals-and-plants-against-warming" target="_blank">cooler on average</a> than the areas outside them.</p><p>Now if you hate the cold, don't worry; there's a cozy exception to the rule. According to that same study, forests are usually 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the external environment during the wintertime. Pretty cool.</p>
A Bug's Life<p>When does a microclimate stop being, well, micro? In other words, is there a maximum size we should be aware of when discussing them?</p><p>Depends on who you ask. "In terms of horizontal scale, some have defined 'microclimate' as anything that is less than 100 meters [328 feet] in range," Jucker says. "I'm personally less prescriptive about this."</p><p>Instead, he says the "scale at which we want to measure [a particular] microclimate" ought to be "dictated" by the questions we're trying to answer.</p><p>"If I want to know how temperature affects the photosynthesis of a leaf, I should be measuring temperature at centimeter scale," Jucker explains. "If I want to know if and how temperature affects the habitat preference of a large, mobile mammal, it's probably more relevant to capture temperature variation across [tens to hundreds] of meters."</p><p>For instance, solitary plants have the power to generate itty-bitty microclimates. Just ask <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/geography/peter-blanken-0" target="_blank">Peter Blanken</a>, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the co-author of the 2016 book, "<a href="https://amzn.to/2XN6FT8" target="_blank">Microclimate and Local Climate</a>."</p>
The urban heat island effect is a good example of how microclimates work. NOAA
Microclimates on a Grand Scale<p>It's no secret that our planet is going through some rough times at the macro level. The global temperature is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">climbing</a>; nine out of the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/2019-was-2nd-hottest-year-on-record-for-earth-say-noaa-nasa" target="_blank">10 hottest years on record</a> have occurred since 2005. And by one recent estimate, roughly 1 million species around the world are <a href="https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf" target="_blank">facing extinction</a> due to human activities.</p><p>"One of the big questions that ecologists and environmental scientists are trying to answer right now is how will individual species and whole ecosystems respond to rapid climate change and habitat loss," says Jucker. "...To me, [microclimates are] a key component of this research — if we don't measure and understand climate at the appropriate scale, then predicting how things will change in the future becomes a lot harder."</p><p>Developers have long understood the impact small-scale climates have on our daily lives. <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/urban-heat-island.htm#pt0" target="_blank">Urban heat islands</a> are cities that have higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas.</p><p>Plants release vapors that can moderate local climates. But in cities, natural greenery is often scarce. To make matters worse, plenty of our roads and buildings have a bad habit of absorbing or re-emitting heat from the sun. <a href="https://www.google.com/books/edition/Microclimate_and_Local_Climate/LHUZDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=urban%20heat%20island" target="_blank">Vehicle emissions</a> don't exactly help the situation.</p><p>Still, it's not like Boston or Beijing are thermal monoliths. Sometimes, the documented temperatures <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-we-turn-down-the-temperature-on-urban-heat-islands" target="_blank">within a single city</a> vary by 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 to 11.1 degrees Celsius).</p><p>That's where metro parks and city trees come in. They have nice cooling effects on nearby neighborhoods. "Several cities around the world have developed programs to increase urban green spaces," says Blanken. "Tree planting programs and green roof programs, have been shown to lower surface temperatures, decrease air pollution and decrease surface water runoff (urban flash-flooding) in urban areas."</p>
An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.
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Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020
If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.
<div id="ecf36" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c2dcc9d48a6cd61f247df1544539a783"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290959314132361216" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Naming heatwaves is a good idea—making the abstract concrete, the invisible visible. Why should hurricanes and wild… https://t.co/hDWgYb79Ob</div> — Ed Maibach (@Ed Maibach)<a href="https://twitter.com/MaibachEd/statuses/1290959314132361216">1596623660.0</a></blockquote></div>
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One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.
Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.
The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.
The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.
If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.
The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.
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"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."
One of the concerns about a warming planet is the feedback loop that will emerge. That is, as the planet warms, it will melt permafrost, which will release trapped carbon and lead to more warming and more melting. Now, a new study has shown that the feedback loop won't only happen in the nether regions of the north and south, but in the tropics as well, according to a new paper in Nature.
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