Medium-chain triglycerides

Medium-chain triglycerides
Physical State liquid
Density (g·cm−3) 0,95
CAS Number 438544-49-1
Drugbank ID DB13959
Solubility insoluble in water


Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) is the name for fats with fatty acids of medium chain length. The fats occur naturally in foods such as coconut oil, palm oil and butter.
Im Gegensatz zu langkettigen Fettsäuren werden die MTCs im Darm schneller zerlegt und aufgenommen und über das Blut direkt zu den Zielorganen transportiert. Aus diesem Grund werden mittelkettige Fettsäuren in der diätetischen Ernährungstherapie bei Erkrankungen, die mit einer Mangelernährung und Malabsorption (unzureichende Aufnahme) einhergehen, sowie als Kalorienquelle eingesetzt.

In addition, medium-chain triglycerides are found as excipients in pharmaceuticals and are used as an ointment base.

Compared to long-chain triglycerides and other dietary fats, MCTs have a 10% lower energy content and a higher increase in energy expenditure. Despite several studies and researches, the scientific evidence for long-term and sustainable weight control by medium-chain triglycerides is lacking.



Medium-chain triglycerides are cleaved into glycerol and medium-chain fatty acids and transported in the blood via the portal vein directly to the liver. There, the fatty acids are oxidized by beta-oxidation for energy production and acetyl-coenzyme A is formed. Since medium-chain fatty acids are preferentially oxidized in the organism, this results in increased energy consumption. Fatty acids are important precursors for energy production and important for membrane structure and function. They also regulate gene expression and are precursors for bioactive molecules.


Absorption is rapid and passive through the gastrointestinal tract via the portal vein, weakly bound to serum albumin, to the liver. The medium-chain fatty acids are cleaved into the free fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid after beta-oxidation. These, in turn, are metabolized through desaturation and elongation steps until the secondary products eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and arachidonic acid are formed.
Die Plasmahalbwertszeit von MTCs beträgt 11 Minuten.


Medium-chain triglycerides should not be used in cases of possible ketoacidosis (metabolic derailment) and oxidation disorders of medium-chain fatty acids.


Toxicological data

In several clinical studies, MCTs were safely consumed by humans at doses of 1g/kg.
Bei der Überschreitung der empfohlenen Dosis bei intravenösen Lipidemulsionen wurde selten das Fettüberladungssyndrom beobachtet, welches zu einer plötzlichen Verschlechterung des Patientenzustands führt.


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All information used for the content comes from verified sources (recognised institutions, experts, studies by renowned universities). We attach great importance to the qualification of the authors and the scientific background of the information. Thus, we ensure that our research is based on scientific findings.

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter is a writer on pharmaceutical topics in Medikamio's medical editorial team. He is in the last semester of his pharmacy studies at the University of Vienna and loves scientific work in the field of natural sciences.

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Stefanie Lehenauer has been a freelance writer for Medikamio since 2020 and studied pharmacy at the University of Vienna. She works as a pharmacist in Vienna and her passion is herbal medicines and their effects.

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