If you’re a parent, you’re always looking for ways to keep your kids healthy and happy.
You may have heard about MCT oil and its potential benefits, but you’re also wondering if it’s safe for your little ones.
MCT oil is a type of dietary fat that has been gaining popularity in recent years, especially for those following a ketogenic diet or dealing with digestive issues.
But is it safe for kids?
In this article, we’ll explore the potential benefits and risks of MCT oil for children, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to incorporate it into your child’s diet.
Is MCT Oil Safe For Kids?
MCT oil is generally considered safe for children, but as with any dietary supplement, it’s important to use it in moderation and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
MCT oil is often used as a dietary aid for children with digestive issues, such as malabsorption or cystic fibrosis. It’s also used in ketogenic diets, which have been shown to be effective in managing epilepsy in children.
However, MCT oil is not a source of essential fatty acids or fat-soluble vitamins, so it should not be used as a replacement for a balanced diet.
It’s important to note that MCT oil can cause side effects such as diarrhea, stomach pain, or vomiting in some children. These side effects are usually short-lived and tend to settle after a few days once the body gets used to it. If your child experiences persistent side effects, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional.
What Is MCT Oil And How Does It Work?
MCT oil is a dietary supplement made from medium-chain triglycerides, which are a type of fatty acid found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and some dairy products. Unlike other fats, MCTs are easily digested and do not require bile acids to be broken down. This means that they are quickly converted into energy by the liver and are not stored as fat in the body.
MCTs can also be converted into ketones, which are molecules that can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide a quick source of energy for the brain. This makes MCT oil a popular supplement for children with autism or epilepsy, as a therapeutic MCT diet has been shown to improve symptoms.
MCT oil may also have potential benefits for heart health. Animal studies have found that MCTs can help prevent plaque build-up in arteries by reducing coagulation and acting as an antioxidant. Clinical trials have also discovered that MCTs can help lower LDL/HDL ratio, reduce total and HDL-cholesterol, increase HDL, and decrease LDL. However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of MCT oil on heart health.
MCT oil may also aid in weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness, promoting fat loss, and improving gut health. However, it’s important to note that MCT oil should not be used as a replacement for a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Potential Benefits Of MCT Oil For Kids
MCT oil has been shown to have potential benefits for children with certain medical conditions. For example, children with epilepsy who don’t respond well to drug treatment may benefit from a high-fat ketogenic diet that includes MCT oil. Studies have shown that this type of diet can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in some children.
MCT oil may also be beneficial for children with autism. One small study found that adding MCT oil to a ketogenic gluten-free diet helped improve symptoms in children with autism. More research is needed to confirm these findings, but it’s a promising area of study.
Additionally, MCT oil can be used as a source of calories for children with liver disease or infections, or for those who have reduced small intestine surface areas and need to 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.
MCT oil may also support weight loss in children who are struggling with obesity or excess weight. Studies have shown that MCT oil can increase the feeling of fullness in the body and reduce appetite, leading to less food intake overall. It may also help promote fat loss and improve insulin resistance.
Risks And Side Effects Of MCT Oil For Children
While MCT oil is generally considered safe for children, there are some risks and potential side effects that parents should be aware of.
Firstly, MCT oil is high in calories, so it’s important to monitor your child’s intake to avoid excessive weight gain. Additionally, MCT oil is a source of saturated fat, which can increase cholesterol levels in some children. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before adding MCT oil to your child’s diet if they have a history of heart or liver disease.
Another potential risk of MCT oil is that it may stimulate the release of hunger hormones, which could lead to overeating if not consumed in moderation. Parents should monitor their child’s appetite and food intake when introducing MCT oil into their diet.
Finally, while MCT oil has been shown to be effective in managing epilepsy in children, it should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. The therapeutic MCT diet used for epilepsy is not the same as the ketogenic diets promoted for weight loss in adults, and should only be followed under the guidance of a dietitian or doctor.
Dosage And Administration Of MCT Oil For Kids
The dosage of MCT oil for children should be determined by a healthcare professional based on the child’s age, weight, and medical condition. It’s important to start with a low dose and gradually increase it over time to avoid any potential side effects.
For infants, the initial dose of MCT oil is usually 0.5 mL every other feeding, which can be increased to every feeding as tolerated. The dose can then be increased in increments of 0.25 to 0.5 mL/feeding at intervals of 2 to 3 days as tolerated. The maximum daily dose for infants is typically 100 mL/day in divided doses.
For children, the recommended starting dose is 1 teaspoon per day, which can be gradually increased to up to 2 tablespoons per day for seasoned users. It’s important to monitor your child’s response to MCT oil and adjust the dosage accordingly.
MCT oil should be introduced slowly into your child’s diet to avoid any potential gastrointestinal side effects such as vomiting or diarrhea. It should also be used under medical supervision and not as a sole source of nutrition.
To ensure that the oil remains in optimum condition, it should be shaken well before use and stored in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Once opened, it should be used within 1 month and the bottle lid should be replaced after use.
When To Consult A Doctor Before Giving Your Child MCT Oil
Before giving your child MCT oil, it’s important to consult with a doctor or a registered dietitian. This is especially important if your child has a medical condition, such as liver disease or inflammatory bowel disease, or is taking any medications.
Children with certain medical conditions may require specific dosages of MCT oil, and it’s important to get guidance from a healthcare professional to ensure that the dosage is appropriate for your child’s age and weight.
In addition, if your child has a history of allergies or sensitivities to any foods or supplements, it’s important to discuss this with your healthcare professional before giving them MCT oil.
It’s also important to monitor your child’s response to MCT oil carefully. If your child experiences any adverse reactions or side effects, such as persistent diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach pain, it’s important to stop using MCT oil and speak with a healthcare professional.
Other Ways To Boost Your Child’s Health And Wellness
In addition to MCT oil, there are several other ways to boost your child’s health and wellness. One of the most important things you can do is to ensure that your child is getting a balanced and nutritious diet. This means including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in their meals.
Regular physical activity is also important for children’s health and well-being. Encourage your child to engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, such as playing outside, riding a bike, or participating in sports.
Getting enough sleep is also crucial for children’s health. Children need more sleep than adults, with toddlers needing around 11-14 hours of sleep per day and school-aged children needing 9-11 hours per night.
Reducing stress levels is also important for children’s health and well-being. Encourage your child to engage in stress-reducing activities such as yoga or meditation, and make sure they have plenty of time for play and relaxation.
Finally, it’s important to ensure that your child is up-to-date on all their vaccinations and receives regular check-ups with their healthcare provider. This can help prevent illnesses and detect any potential health issues early on. By combining these strategies with the use of MCT oil under the guidance of a healthcare professional, you can help support your child’s overall health and well-being.