fractionated coconut oil

Facts About Fractionated Coconut Oil That You Should Know About

Coconut oil is a healthy fat. Like any other oils, once they are extracted from its source – whether its nuts, seeds, or fruit - it is then refined in some way to remove impurities. This process is usually done to make a new product. As for coconut oil, there are several types of oil that comes out of it. One is fractionated coconut oil. To understand fractionated coconut oil better, read on.

A regular coconut oil is composed of long-chain as well as medium-chain fatty acids. It has capric, caprylic, and lauric acids. Fractionated coconut oil comes from coconut oil minus some specific components.

As the name implies, fractionated coconut oil is produced through a process of separation. It goes into hydrolysis and then steams distillation to separate different fats that are naturally present in regular coconut oil. Once the coconut oil is fractionated, the lauric acid and other long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) are removed. This leaves only the medium chain fatty acids like capric and caprylic.

The end result is thin oil that is packed with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). It is often called in the market as medium-chain triglycerides oil or MCT oil. Since almost all of its long-chain triglycerides are removed and it is mainly composed of saturated fatty acids, this type of oil of is highly stable.

Regular Coconut Oil vs Fractionated Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has three types of fatty acids. There is short-chain, a medium-chain, and finally, the long-chain fatty acids. Both regular and fractionated coconut oils are great sources of MCTs. However, they are greatly different when it comes to fatty acid composition.

Coconut oil’s long-chain fatty acids carry additional carbon atoms. Hence, it needs higher temperatures to turn to liquid. It also has lauric acid which makes it solid at room temperature as well as susceptible to oxidation.

In comparison, fractionated coconut oil doesn’t have long-chain triglycerides and lauric acid. Lauric acid has higher melting points than medium-chain fatty acids’ caprylic and capric acids. The absence of lauric acid makes fractionated coconut oil keep its liquid form at room temperature. In addition, the oil extends its shelf life when lauric acid is removed. Caprylic and capric acids are saturated fatty acids, they are not prone to oxidation.

As for “virgin” coconut oil, this is typically unrefined or they are the least processed of all. Therefore, it maintains more of its natural components. However, virgin coconut oil also maintains its solid form at room temperature since it still has the lauric acid. It is easy to soften though. A few minutes in hot water or rubbing between your fingers will do the trick.

Who Uses Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil has been advertised under three different types. You may see it the market as fractionated coconut oil, MCT oil, or liquid coconut oil. Although all of these are produced by the same refining process and essentially contain the same MCTs, not all are suitable for eating.

Keep in mind that therapeutic grade FCO is not edible. They are designed to be a carrier for essential oils or uses in skin products. The food grade ones are that you can eat.

Fractionated coconut oil - The products that are labeled as such are primarily manufactured exclusively for external uses and can’t be eaten. These are mainly used in health, cosmetics, and other similar products. It can be found in skin moisturizer, hair conditioner, aromatherapy oil, massage oil, and others.

MCT oil – It is often utilized in hospitals and in making medicines and dietary supplements. It is used as medication to patients with deficiency in digesting fats with LCTs. It can also treat those who have malabsorption disorder, epilepsy, and Crohn's disease. It helps in improving mineral absorption and in protein and fat metabolism. They are also in baby formulas that are used to premature babies. It can also help children who suffer from chronic diarrhea.

MCT oil is also a popular dietary supplement especially among athletes. It can pump up their energy level and in turn enhance their metabolism while maintaining muscle mass. This type of fractionated coconut oil usually comes in powder form that can be mix with your drinks. It is tasteless so many athletes love it.

Liquid coconut oil - This is the one that can be used in cooking. It has been recently named and marketed as cooking oil. Unlike other saturated fats, FCO is used in cooking since it is highly stable and does not go rancid easily.

Though fractionated coconut oil is tasteless and odorless which makes it great for cooking, it is not as commonly used as compared to the other types of oils because it has a lower smoke point (320° F or 160°C compared to 350° F or 177°C of regular coconut oil). However, some still prefer MCT oil or liquid coconut oil in cooking than soybean oil, peanut oil, and safflower oil which contain mostly unsaturated fatty acids and LCTs that are hard for the body to break down.

Benefits of Fractionated Coconut Oil

One of the main advantages of FCO is that it stays liquid at room temperature and can endure light and high heat without going rancid. It is colorless and odorless. It doesn’t leave a stain as compared to virgin coconut oil.

It has longer shelf-life since has been purified from unstable compounds. Generally, virgin coconut oil has a stamped expiration date of 18 months after the date it was manufactured. Most therapeutic grade FCO has stamp date of 3 to 5 years while the food grade like the liquid coconut oil may have a shorter date of 18 to 24 months.

FCO is completely soluble with other oils. It is an excellent carrier oil for combining or diluting essential oils. It is usually used in skin moisturizers, soaps, lotion, and other skin care products. It is also an active ingredient in shampoo, nail care, and massage therapy oil.

Due to the way it is processed, fractionated coconut oil is high in capric acid and caprylic acid than the other types of coconut oil. These make FCO high in antioxidant. It has great disinfecting properties as well.

It has an amazing cleansing effect on the skin. It is also extremely light in texture and less greasy. FCO can be absorbed quickly into the skin without clogging pores. These properties make it popular as a base ingredient for a variety of skin care products.

It also makes an excellent treatment for skin problems. It soothes chapped lips, skin rashes, irritations as well inflammation. It also helps in preventing acne and treats other skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis.

Fractionated coconut oils are often used for medical purposes. Pharmaceutical companies use it in making capsulated medicines and supplements. Since this oil remains liquid at room temperature, it is great in making soft gelatin capsulated medicine or supplements.

Another potential benefit of high MCTs in fractionated coconut oil is to help improve brain function. However, studies in this area are still in its early stages.

Fractionated Coconut Oil in Losing Weight

There are several studies that focus on whether or not FCO can aid in weight loss. Some suggest that medium-chain fatty acids-rich FCO has powerful effects on metabolism hence it may help in shedding pounds. Apparently, MCTs may also help in losing weight since it increases satiety, therefore, reducing calorie intake.

This is what you need to understand with medium-chain fatty acids. Our body doesn’t metabolize MCFAs in the same way as it does with long-chain fatty acids. In simplest term, it is like the body digesting fiber but it doesn’t turn it into glucose.

Medium-chain fatty acids have a different digestive path than LCFAs. They are not digested in the small intestine. After the body consumes MCFAs, our body takes them directly to the liver. In there, they are immediately converted into energy to fuel our system. In short, medium-chain fatty acids are less likely to be stored as fat in the body, unlike its long-chain counterpart.

MCTs may also play an important role in ketogenic diet, which is vital for weight loss. This diet pushes the body to burn fats instead of carbohydrates.

Some FCO manufacturers add a small amount of lauric acid into the refined FCO to increase its good benefits, especially for the edible type of this oil. However, they can’t add too much because the lauric acid will increase the freezing point of the product. In turn, it will solidify at low temperature.

Uses of Fractionated Coconut Oil At Home

FCO is not only used in skin care products, it can be a handy tool at home too. First of all, you can use it as a hair conditioner. Apply it to your damp hair and then massage into your scalp and hair. Leave it for about 30 minutes before you shampoo your hair and rinse with warm water.

Your hair will also thank you when you use it as hair shine. Just squeeze a few drops on your palm and apply it lightly throughout your hair.

For tired feet, mix FCO with some essential oil and massage into your feet and heels. You have an instant foot care massage at home. You may also use as an after-shower moisturizer to achieve a softer skin. It is also a great makeup remover.

Moreover, moms are not the only who can benefit from FCO, dads too. They can use fractionated coconut oil as a leather conditioner and polish for wood furniture. It is an excellent car dashboard cleaner as well. Some men claim to use it to put some luster to their beard or facial hair. There were also rumors that it can help with hair growth but this is not backed by studies as of yet.

Drawbacks of Fractionated Coconut Oil

FCO has several uses and benefits. However, there are also some drawbacks since it is missing an important fatty acid that is naturally present in regular coconut oil – the lauric acid. Coconut oil is the most significant source of lauric acid in the world. Human breast milk has it but not as much as in coconut oil. Lauric acid is known to have antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Therefore, missing lauric acid in FCO could have some potential side effects to some.

MCT oil has some documented side effects in certain individuals. These mainly involve gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and cramping. However, these are rare instances and could appear when consuming large amounts of MCFAs.

Like nuts, some people may also experience an allergy to coconut, or coconut-based products. Allergy to FCO is possible but much less likely compared to non-fractionated oil. Nonetheless, before you apply it on your skin, run a skin test. Put a small amount in a discreet area of your body, possibly inside of your elbow or the back of your ear, to test for reactions. If rashes appear, don’t use it.

How Much Fractionated Coconut Oil Costs ?

Since it undergoes several processes than regular coconut oil, it is usually high-priced than regular coconut oil. However, since it has a lengthier shelf life and has several uses at home, it is worth the price.

Where to Purchase Fractionated Coconut Oil

NOW Foods and Viva Naturals are some of the brands that make fractionated coconut oil. However, it is not always available in stores. It can be bought in upscale stores, health food stores, and some craft stores that sell soap making supplies. You can check Whole Foods, GNC, Sprouts, and Vitamin Shoppe who usually sell them.

When buying in store, check for its viscosity. Fractionated coconut oil is thinner and clearer than virgin coconut oil.

If you buy fractionated coconut oil via online, there is no other way to visually check the item. Read the costumers’ review and use your best judgment. Natural Force, N Essentials, and Plant Therapy offer FCO online. You may also want to try at iHerb.com.

If FCO is not available, the best alternative is jojoba oil. It has a 5-year shelf life. However, this is not edible. This is only good for topical use.

You have equipped you will all the facts that you need to know about fractionated coconut oil. Be the judge if this will work for you or not. If you have tried FCO for other purposes aside from the uses we have mentioned above, let us know in the comments below.

About the Author Hong Quy

Born in Hanoi, can speak English and Japanese fluently. Become interested in cooking after married, and love to share easy Japanese recipes with anyone has the same interest.

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