Caprylic acid is a type of fatty acid known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and is present in butter and palm oil but more widely known by people to exist in coconut oil. This beneficial saturated fatty acid boasts antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been linked to the prevention of urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Caprylic acid. Your Anti-microbial Ally
However, the health benefit associated with the ingestion of caprylic acid that’s gaining the most attention is its ability to treat the overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus called candida that lives and grows in your gut (1). Normally the amount of candida is kept under control by our other gut bacteria and our immune system but problems occur when there is an overgrowth of this yeast/fungus which is called candidasis. Candida overgrowth syndrome can present with irritable bowel syndrome-like symptoms, abdominal bloating, constipation, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and even sugar cravings.
Caprylic acid’s natural yeast-fighting abilities primarily lies in its ability to penetrate the cell membranes of candida yeast cells, causing them to die (2).
Taking caprylic acid regularly may help to maintain the balance of microorganisms in the intestines encouraging the growth of beneficial microflora within the digestive tract, warding any future candida overgrowth by also keeping viruses found in the gut, in check (3, 4)
Unlike antibiotics which ‘carpet bomb’ the gut and kill off lots of other bacteria and microorganisms as collateral damage, caprylic acid does not; in fact, it promotes the growth of beneficial microbiota. A balanced and diverse microbiota has been shown to support your immune function, associated with lowered risk for allergies, better brain function, improved hormonal health, lower risk for obesity, and lower inflammations levels.
Coconut Oil vs. MCT Oil
As mentioned, caprylic acid is found in coconut oil. However, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oils products are positioning themselves to be superior to coconut oil in terms of MCT content.
There are four different kinds of MCTs depending on the number of carbons ‘C’: caprioc (C6:0), caprylic (C8:0), capric (C10:0) and lauric (C12:0) acids. MCTs can be found in coconut oil, butter, cheeses, palm oil, whole milk and full-fat yogurt from grass-fed cows; however, MCT oils have more concentrated levels of MCT.
Most MCT products are mixes of caprylic (C8:0) and capric (C10:0), typically in a 50:50 ratio or you can also get 100% pure caprylic acid.
Coconut oil has about 1.4 g of caprylic acid per Tablespoon versus 7 grams for a blended MCT product versus 14 g for pure caprylic acid.
Caprylic acid appears to pose little to no risk from toxicity when consumed as a supplement at levels up to 15% of total calories or about 50% of total fat (5).
People add caprylic acid to coffee, in smoothies are as a their oil of choice for salads and cooked vegetables.
In short, MCT oil and coconut oil do have the same benefits, but because MCT oil is more concentrated with MCT, some experts argue that the reason why the benefits of coconut oil have yet to be scientifically proven is that they lack the same concentrated levels of MCT as MCT oils.
Ultimately, both MCT oil and coconut oil are beneficial, particularly for gut health. However, if your aim is to consume capric acid and caprylic acid, the. MCT oil is probably more of what you’re after. Coconut oil is largely from lauric acid (C12). And while it’s a great source of MCTs, its MCT levels are only roughly 62–65%.