How MCT oil benefits the brain in just one dose!

The Fat That Boosts Brain Function (In Just One Dose!)

by Kelley Herring on March 2, 2016

For years, mainstream nutritional advice was that we needed carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) to fuel our brain. This advice seemed to make sense. After all, the brain can run on sugar. But sugar is not your brain’s preferred fuel.

The same is true for your car. While it can run on dragster fuel, this is not what makes the engine in your car run best. In fact, the same fuel that sends a dragster screaming down the race track will quickly burn up the engine in your car.

So, if not sugar, what is the preferred fuel for your brain?


In fact, the brain works much more efficiently on fat. Not only do healthy fats provide more units of energy per gram than glucose, they also produce fewer waste byproducts.

And while all healthy fats provide supercharged fuel for the brain, there is one kind of fat that is especially beneficial for brain function…

Coconut Oil: The Healthy Fat That Boosts Brain Function

Coconut oil is rich in a unique fat molecule, called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). The primary benefit of MCTs is that they are highly absorbable. They boost metabolism. And they are converted quickly to energy by the liver.

But that’s not all…

MCTs also produce molecules called ketones. And recent research shows that ketones are nothing short of miraculous when it comes to brain health.

A pioneering study published in the journal, Neurobiology of Aging, reported that cognitive function in older adults with memory disorders almost immediately improved with just one 40 ml dose of MCTs!

The study evaluated 20 patients with either mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. On separate days, the patients were either given MCTs or a placebo. Within just 90 minutes of taking the “shot” of MCTs, researchers found significant increases in ketones in their blood.

So, how did this relate to brain function?

The researchers administered the “gold standard” test for memory and cognition – the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale – Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-cog).

What they found is that patients who took a SINGLE dose of MCTs had greater improvements in recall compared to those not getting the brain-booster. These results were seen in ALL of the patients!

What’s more, the researchers reported significant overall improvements in the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease after 45 and 90 days of treatment with MCTs.

How Medium Chain Triglycerides Beat “Brain Diabetes”

While it has long been known that many foods provide functional and medicinal benefits, how could it be possible to achieve such profound effects after ingesting such a relatively small amount of MCTs?

The answer lies in the unique structure of these fats and how they are metabolized in the brain.

When the brain is accustomed to using glucose as fuel, insulin resistance and a low metabolic state develop. You can think of this unhealthy state as “brain diabetes.” In fact, many researchers are even calling Alzheimer’s disease Type 3 Diabetes.

This is the same thing that happens in the rest of the body when it runs on sugar. But the brain is extremely sensitive. When its function and ability are compromised, it is noticed and felt more readily.

As the brain switches from using glucose to using ketones, brain metabolism and insulin sensitivity increase. This results in clearer thinking and a recharged ability to recall information.

But that’s not all…

Ketones also help clean up metabolic debris – or “cobwebs” – in neuronal structures of the brain. These cobwebs are partly made up of beta-amyloid protein – a substance that is correlated with Alzheimer’s disease and damages the ability of neurons to generate energy for brain function.

How to Enjoy MCT Oil Benefits

Big Pharma has jumped on board with MCTs for Alzheimer’s. In fact, the FDA-approved ‘medical food’ caprylidene (trade name Axona) is now available by prescription.

But you can get all of the benefits (and none of the potential risks) by enjoying organic virgin coconut oil and other all-natural coconut products. Coconut oil contains approximately two-thirds (66%) MCTs by volume. For coconut milk, approximately 25% of its volume is fat. Roughly two-thirds of that amount are MCTs.

In addition to enjoying organic virgin coconut oil, protect your brain by following the healthy, fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet of our ancestors. In addition to a variety of colorful vegetables, enjoy grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured poultry and wild seafood. Add more body-and-brain-protecting fats to your diet with tallow, lard, duck fat and bone marrow.

For more information on the amazing health benefits of coconut oil (plus the four so-called “healthy oils” you should always avoid), check out this informative article…

Wondering about MCT oil benefits on the brain? Discover how these superfats improve cognition and the amount you need to boost your brain power.


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About The Author

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

Kelley Herring – who has written posts on Healing Gourmet.

1. Reger M, Henderson S, Hale C, et al. Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiol Aging. 2004 Mar;25(3):311-4. PMID: 15123336 2. Anonymous: Medium chain triglycerides. Alt Med Rev 2002, 7:418-420. 3. Lauren C Costantini, Linda J Barr, Janet L Vogel, Samuel T Henderson. Hypometabolism as a therapeutic target in Alzheimer's disease. BMC Neurosci. 2008 ;9 Suppl 2:S16. Epub 2008 Dec 3. PMID: 1909098 4. Nafar F, Mearow KM. Coconut oil attenuates the effects of amyloid-β on cortical neurons in vitro. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;39(2):233-7. doi: 10.3233/JAD-131436.


  1. Hi Kelley,

    So what is the actual dose amount that people should aim for on a daily basis? My mother was diagnosed a little over a year ago with Alzheimer’s and I keep reminding my parents to make sure they consume coconut oil every day I make sure they are supplied with it continuously but I know that they are not getting enough and it would help if I could point to something stating an approximate therapuetic dose. She has made improvement over the last year but there is still a lot of memory problem and repetition where she seems to be caught in a loop.


    • Kelley Herring says:

      Hi Polly,
      Thanks for your question.

      In the article above, we reference the amount used in the study published in Neurobiology of Aging. That study used 40 ml of MCT oil, with increases in ketones seen 90 minutes after MCT consumption. Improvements in recall were observed after one dose, with continued improvements over 45 and 90 days.

      While virgin coconut oil is great, opting for MCTs can provide more therapeutic benefits. Because it is liquid, it is also easier to take “straight” or added into beverages.

      Be Well,

  2. Hello Kelley,

    Thank you for this article. However, I am confused. You say in the 2nd paragraph about MCTs being different from virgin coconut oil. I thought MCTs were in virgin coconut oil or is it a different form? Also,
    how much is 40 ml. I have heard in the past that 4 Tbs. are needed a day.

    Thank you,

    • Kelley Herring says:

      Hi Peggy,
      Medium chain triglycerides are found in coconut oil, so that is a great whole food source. However, MCTS in pure form are extracted from coconut oil.

      You can do a Google search to convert ml to tablespoons if you’d like. You’ll find that 1 Tbsp. is 14.8 ml. Most glass measuring cups have ml on the side, as well.

      Be Well,

      • Thank you Kelley for the info. Now I have another question. How do I then get the pure form of MCTs?

        Thank you so much,

      • Thank you Kelley for the info. Now I have another question. How then do I get the pure form of MCTs?

        Thank you so much,

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