Can A Child Have MCT Oil? (According To Experts)

If you’re a parent of a child with a digestive problem or intractable epilepsy, you may have heard of MCT oil.

But what exactly is it, and can it be safely used for children?

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and potential risks of MCT oil for kids, as well as the different products available and how to use them.

Whether you’re considering MCT oil as part of a ketogenic diet or for fat malabsorption, read on to learn more about this dietary aid and whether it’s right for your child.

Can A Child Have MCT Oil?

MCT oil, or medium chain triglyceride oil, is a dietary aid that has been used for various medical conditions, including intractable epilepsy and fat malabsorption. But can it be safely used for children?

The answer is yes, MCT oil can be used for children. In fact, it has particular advantages for children since it allows restriction of dietary long chain fats without limiting the intake of protein necessary for growth while providing adequate calories. MCT oil has been used mostly in cystic fibrosis, where it may reduce steatorrhoea. It can also be a useful source of calories for those with anorexia due to infection or liver disease and in babies recovering from meconium ileus.

MCT oil is not a source of essential fatty acids or fat-soluble vitamins, so it should not be used as the sole source of fat in a child’s diet. However, it can be used as part of a balanced diet under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

What Is MCT Oil?

MCT oil is a dietary supplement made from medium-chain triglycerides, a type of fat found in oils like coconut and palm oil. MCTs are smaller in size than the long-chain triglycerides found in most fats, making them easier to digest and absorb quickly into the bloodstream. This allows the body to use them as energy more efficiently.

MCT oil has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential health benefits, including increased energy, appetite control, and improved gut health. It is often used by athletes and bodybuilders as a supplement. MCT oil is commonly extracted from coconut oil, which is high in MCTs, and can be manufactured with dairy proteins, carbohydrates, fillers, and sweeteners to make MCT powder.

MCT oil has been used for health reasons since the 1920s when doctors introduced the ketogenic diet for managing epilepsy in children. The high-fat, low-carb diet helps change how the brain gets energy to function. MCT oil quickly became popular as the keto diet grew in popularity and began appearing in health food stores and online marketplaces.

MCT oil’s benefits come from its unique properties as a source of clean fuel for the body and brain. MCTs are digested more rapidly than long-chain triglycerides and are considered a source of quick energy without filling the body with added sugar and processed ingredients. MCT oil is a man-made saturated fatty acid that combines medium-chain triglycerides from coconut oil and palm oil to create a pure form of MCTs.

Benefits Of MCT Oil For Children

MCT oil has been shown to have numerous benefits for children with certain medical conditions. For children with intractable epilepsy, a therapeutic MCT diet has been shown to improve symptoms. The ketogenic/MCT diet used for children with epilepsy is not the same as ketogenic diets promoted for weight loss in adults. MCT diets for kids with autism or epilepsy should be followed under the guidance of a dietitian or doctor.

MCT oil is also used as a source of calories for children with liver disease and infection, as well as for children who have reduced small intestine surface areas to help ensure adequate caloric intake. MCT oil contains caprylic acid, a medium chain fatty acid that has been shown to help lower the risk of antibiotic resistance and soothe inflammatory bowel diseases like colitis and Crohn’s.

Research has also suggested that MCT oil may have potential benefits for weight loss in children. MCT oil has been shown to increase the release of hormones that promote the feeling of fullness in the body, which could lead to reduced calorie intake. Additionally, some studies have shown that taking MCT oil could help reduce body weight and waist circumference in children.

It is important to note that MCT oil should not be used as a sole source of fat in a child’s diet, and it should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. However, the potential benefits for children with certain medical conditions make MCT oil a valuable addition to their dietary regimen.

Potential Risks And Side Effects

While MCT oil is generally safe for most people, it can cause some potential side effects in children. These side effects include flatulence, diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloating. For children who have not taken MCT oil before, it is recommended to start with a low dose of no more than a teaspoon per day and gradually increase to no more than three or four teaspoons per day. If any gastrointestinal problems such as cramping or nausea occur, the dose should be reduced.

In rare cases, MCT oil can cause deficiency of carnitine resulting in damage to the liver and kidneys due to long-term feeding of a prematurely born infant with extremely low body mass. It has also been found that MCT can engage carnitine in the course of their metabolism and carnitine reserves in infants are low. Therefore, in such cases supplementation with carnitine should be considered.

Additionally, taking MCT oil with food may reduce some side effects. If your child experiences any adverse effects after taking MCT oil, it is important to contact their doctor immediately. It is also recommended to report any side effects to the national health agency for proper monitoring and evaluation. Overall, while MCT oil can be beneficial for children under certain circumstances, it is important to use it under the guidance of a healthcare professional and monitor for any potential side effects.

Different Products And How To Use Them

MCT oil can be derived from coconut or palm kernel oil. Fractionation is the process used to separate the MCT from the original oil and concentrate it. You can buy 100% MCT oil or a mixture of MCT and LCT. The most efficient and palatable MCTs for energy are caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10). MCT oil that contains only these two MCTs can be used to fuel the body with ketones. Coconut oil, on the other hand, contains roughly 60% MCTs, with the majority of them coming from lauric acid, which is the least efficient MCT.

MCT oil can be used as a source of calories for children who have reduced small intestine surface areas to help ensure adequate caloric intake. It can also be used as a therapeutic diet for children with autism and epilepsy. The ketogenic/MCT diet used for children with epilepsy is not the same as ketogenic diets promoted for weight loss in adults.

MCT oil is safe for use in children with autism and epilepsy, but it should be followed under the guidance of a dietitian or doctor. For those looking to gain all of the advantages of MCTs and fuel their body with ketones, 100% MCT oil is the best choice. However, it should be noted that overconsumption can lead to side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal discomfort. It is recommended to start with a small amount and gradually increase the dosage to avoid these side effects.

Incorporating MCT oil into a child’s diet can be done by mixing it into smoothies, adding it to oatmeal or yogurt, or using it as a cooking oil for sautéing vegetables or making stir-fry dishes. It can also be added to coffee or hot chocolate for an energy boost. When using MCT oil in cooking, it is important not to heat it above its smoke point (around 320°F) to avoid creating harmful compounds. Overall, MCT oil can be a beneficial addition to a child’s diet when used appropriately under medical supervision.

MCT Oil And The Ketogenic Diet

MCT oil has been found to be particularly effective when used as part of a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has been used to manage conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism. The diet works by inducing a state of ketosis, where the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

When used in combination with a ketogenic diet, MCT oil can increase ketone production and provide additional brain benefits. Studies have shown that MCT oil can improve cognitive function in elderly individuals and improve memory in those with Alzheimer’s disease.

The MCT ketogenic diet was first developed in the 1970s by Peter R. Huttenlocher MD. The diet uses MCT oil as a fat supplement since MCT fats are more easily converted into ketones than long chain triglycerides (LCT). This means that less total fat is needed in the diet, allowing for more carbohydrates and protein to be included.

MCT oil can be ingested in various ways, including orally as MCT oil or through products such as Liquigen and Betaquik, which are specifically designed for children on ketogenic diets for epilepsy.

It’s important to note that the use of MCT oil and the ketogenic diet should always be under the guidance of a healthcare professional. The dose may need to be adjusted depending on the child’s tolerance and levels of ketones. However, when used properly, MCT oil can be a safe and effective dietary aid for children.

MCT Oil For Fat Malabsorption

MCT oil can be particularly helpful for children with fat malabsorption conditions such as cystic fibrosis or chronic liver disease. Medium chain triglycerides bypass the steps necessary for the absorption of long chain fats, making them more readily available for the body to use. This can be beneficial for children who struggle to absorb fats properly due to their condition.

In malabsorptive states, MCT oil has been shown to reduce steatorrhoea, which is the presence of excess fat in the stool. This can improve well-being and social acceptability for many schoolchildren and adolescents who may experience embarrassment or discomfort due to this condition. MCT oil can also help improve symptoms such as offensive stools, flatus, and abdominal discomfort.

For infants with neonatal hepatitis or biliary atresia, MCT oil can provide a ready source of calories while avoiding the loss of fat in their stools. Some older children with liver disease have also been shown to grow more rapidly and have fewer and less offensive stools and less abdominal discomfort when using MCT oil.

In cases where there is loss of the small intestinal absorptive surface, particularly after massive small bowel resection, MCT oil can help to maintain weight and nutrition. It may also be a useful supplementary nutritional measure in patients severely affected with coeliac disease while awaiting response to a gluten-free diet, and in patients with regional enteritis.