How MCT Maintains and Improves cognitive Functions

July 7, 2022

We need optimal brain function to carry out daily activities. From simple tasks like talking to more complex ones like painting, every single activity requires neurons in the brain to communicate with one antoher and work together. These kinds of activities, which also include learning, memorizing, thinking, decision making, and problem solving, are collectively categorized as cognitive functions. In normal condition, the functions rapidly develop in the first 1000 days of someone’s life. It continues to develop as they grow before starting to gradually decline as they get older at around 60 years old.

The declining in cognitive function is a part of natural aging process. In elderly, it results in increasing forgetfulness as well as declining ability to concentrate, focus when talking, and make decisions quickly, among other things. Those with mild cognitive decline are at risk for developing dementia, which is a severe decline in cognitive function and may seriously affect their quality of life.

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The aforementioned symptoms of aging actually do not just occur in the elderly. In rare cases, those symptoms occur too at a milder level in younger people. Aside from aging, some other factors contribution to the declining cognitive functions include too much stress, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and not enough physical activities. Additionally, diets play a huge role too in cognitive perfomrance.

Too much trans fat and sugar, along with inadequate intakes of vitamin B12, vitamin E, folic acid, and omega-3, may accelerate the decline of cognitive functions. Luckily, the cognitive functions can be improved and maintained by implementing certain types of diets, including Mediterranean Diet, Calorie Restriction Diet, or DASH diet. In addition to the diets, improving cognitive functions can be done by adding supplement with active components such as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in MCT oil.

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MCT oil is usually extracted from coconut oil or palm kernel oil through a process called fractionation (the separating and concentrating process of MCTs from the oil). MCTs contain fatty acid components with carbon chain of 8-12 carbon atoms. The components are smaller in size compared to those found in regular vegetable oil we usually consume or animal fats, which contains long-chained fatty acid with carbon chain of 14 carbon atoms or more. That means, MCTs are easier for the body to digest and metabolize for immediate use as new energy source for the nervous system.

Supporting the statement is a study conducted by Ashton et al in 2020 in England. Taking 30 adults as participants and 1 month to complete, the study shows that consuming 12 grams of MCTs per day can help improve the participants’ cognitive. This happens because MCTs can be easily broken down into ketones in the liver. Ketones serves as an alternative energy source for neurons. Ketones produce less free radicals compared to carbs or glucose, so the risks of neuron damages due to oxidative stress can be reduced.

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Aside from providing ketones for the neurons, MCTs can can broken down into medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These MCFAs include ons with carbon chain of 8 (caprilyc acid) and carbon chain of 10 (capric acid), which are considered the best types of MCFAs to support cognitive functions. The fatty acids can help improve energy metabolism in the neuron by increasing the number of mitochondria, cellular organelles responsible for processing energy. The more mitochondria found, the better is the cells’ ability to produce energy needed by the body

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