Dietary and supplemental sources

To select a natural diet that is high in MCFAs and low in LCFAs would be very difficult, boring, and unhealthy. While MCFAs appear in several natural foods, there is not a class of foods that is high in MCFAs while being low in LCFAs and balanced in other nutrients. While some foods are higher in one FA than another, both groups of FAs are intermingled in a variety of natural foods. Also, MCTGs do not contain the essential fatty acids (EFAs) linoleic and linolenic. Both EFAs are long-chain FAs with 18 carbons. Linoleic has two double bonds and linolenic has three. A diet without EFAs would cause severe deficiencies incompatible with life. It can be noted in Table 3.3 that MCFAs are not found in abundance in most foods. Coconut oil and palm kernel oil are two plant oils that are high in MCFAs, but note that these FAs are also saturated. The lack of MCFAs in everyday foods creates an argument for taking supplements containing MCFAs, if there is sufficient reason for increasing intake. "Sufficient reason" is a topic of considerable interest in the sports and dieting research arenas. Commercial preparations that contain nothing but MCFAs are available. The MCFAs used in these preparations are usually called MCT oil, which was developed in the 1950s by V.K. Babayan.65 MCT oil has been used since then for clinical treatment of fat malabsorption and routinely in tube and intravenous feedings. Since MCTGs (MCT oil) are listed on the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they can legally be added to food products. Recently, there has been a new wave of claims that MCTGs are useful in weight reduction and as an energy source for athletes. MCTG products containing MCT oil are abundant in health food and other stores in various forms, including powders, liquids, and incorporated into foods. The research concerned with some of these claims will be discussed in the next section.

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