What Are The Side Effects Of MCT Oil?

mct oil side effects

Whether or not you should eat plenty of fat in your diet still remains an age-old debate in the dietary world.

This is despite the fact that the very well-known diet, the keto diet [1], promotes eating plenty of healthy fat.

It will really all depend on the current dietary trends and your own personal beliefs about fats and your own health.

One very popular dieting trend over the last few years which has created great interest is that of MCT oil.

MCT oil happens to be well-used on the keto diet and has received plenty of buzz over the last few years.

It all started a few years back with the popularity of bullet-proof coffee.

Bulletproof coffee was created to replace breakfasts that were full of carbs.

In bulletproof coffee, you can expect to find coffee, unsalted grass-fed butter, and a couple of tablespoons of MCT oil.

MCT oil was initially used to help with epilepsy

But as one sports dietician, Kristen Chang, says…

“The key thing for people to know is that people with epilepsy who adopt that diet [which is what it was originally designed for] are not on it for the long-term and are under the guidance and supervision of a medical professional. They’re watched very closely.”

MCT has become very popular now thanks to the ketogenic diet.

It is thought to help keto users stay in a state of ketosis [2], even when they have eaten more carbs than normally allowed.

This has made many people believe it can help with rapid weight loss.

MCT oil is also able to be absorbed more quickly into the body.

This is thanks to its medium-length fatty acids.

This makes energy rapidly available to people – instead of being stored as fat.

Apparently, research around these conclusions is inconclusive and limited.

Before we talk about the side effects of MCT oil, there are benefits

Yes, there are wonderful benefits to be had by taking MCT oil as a dietary supplement.

That’s why it has been integrated into the keto diet.

But we aren’t going to elaborate on the benefits too much here – you can read up about these benefits for yourself here.

  • MCT oil is very well known for its weight loss benefits – it can help to reduce fat deposits in the body, and also produce ketones.
  • It provides you with added energy. Who doesn’t want that!
  • Heart health can improve.
  • It can improve brain health.
  • It improves gut health.
  • It has antimicrobial properties.
  • It has proven itself to have anti-cancer benefits.
  • It has not only health benefits, but beauty benefits too – improved skin, nails, and hair.

MCT Oil Side Effects: See These Warnings Before Using It

MCT oil on the floor

As Chang says, “MCTs are not really talked about with regard to an overall health benefit.”

Even though it is considered a superfood, taking MCT oil should still be considered for its side effects as well.

Some of the below aren’t really side effects, but more facts about MCT oil:


This is the most common side effect – loose bowels.

Taking too much can result in unwanted trips to the bathroom.

You might also experience stomach aches, flatulence, and cramping.

If you do suffer from diarrhea, constipation, stomach aches, rashes, flu symptoms, etc. you don’t have to panic.

The symptoms aren’t dangerous and will resolve once you stop taking the product.

Your reaction to the oil can be an underlying gut overgrowth problem. This you can address through other means such as cleansing and diet.

It can lead to higher triglyceride levels

One of the studies stated that consuming MCT oil can lead to elevated triglycerides [4].

These are a type of fat found in the blood and high levels of this type of fat, called lipids, can increase the risk of heart disease [5].

Uncomfortable physical detox symptoms, sometimes called the ‘Herxheimer’ reaction can result

The Herxheimer reaction is an inflammatory reaction in the body.

It can be caused by bacteria dying off. Toxins get released into the body faster than the body can handle them.

Sometimes with a gut overgrowth problem, by taking MCT oil to kill off the yeast, excess bacteria, and parasites, other reactions can occur.

These can be itching, brain fog, skin rashes, and even flu-like symptoms as well.

Remember, pure MCT Oil is a man-made oil

The MCT oil that is used has been concocted in a lab. And for this reason, it can’t be considered natural food.  

MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of MCTs or medium-chain triglycerides.

The whole process of ‘making’ MCT oil is through a process called fractionation [6].

It’s the process of isolating and extracting the MTS from the palm kernels and coconuts to create MCT oil.

It is a saturated fat

Sure, keto and paleo do proclaim the eating of bacon and butter.

These are both saturated fats, and they are not bad for your health.

But there is a link between the dietary intake of saturated fat and some health troubles that have been noted. WHO, FDA, and the American Heart Association all recommend that people keep their saturated fat intake low.

They recommend that people take less than 6% of their daily calories if they want to lower their risk of heart disease [7].

It hasn’t proven to enhance athletic performance

There are no studies to show that MCT oil does enhance athletic performance.

If there are any studies that do suggest some benefits derived from ingesting MCT oil, they have not been reviewed enough times to provide any conclusive evidence.

There is no fact sheet that evaluates the benefits of MCT oil – yet 

If you are looking for the best information on dietary supplements, look at the NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements fact sheets.

To date, there are no fact sheets on MCT oil. Dietary supplements are minimally regulated by the FDA.

Unfortunately, there aren’t guarantees on the quality of MCT oil supplements.

Some third-party organizations like ConsumerLab or NSF, for example, might have tested them.

All in all, the side effects of MCT oil are relatively low

The most common side effects are

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach

To avoid adverse or side effects of using MCT oil

Start by taking low dosages. Take one teaspoon and then increase this gradually up to 1-2 tablespoons a day.

Don’t start off by taking MCT oil every day – take it rather every other day in the beginning rather than every day.

Remember, also, to keep yourself hydrated with water, and some excellent teas such as dandelion and nettle tea; particularly good for detoxing the body.

Electrolytes are also excellent when you need to replenish your body with the necessary minerals and vitamins.

If you do have one of the side effects of MCT oil such as flu-like symptoms, then you can always soak in a hot tub with Epsom salts in it.

Epsom salts have plenty of magnesium in them.

People always ask if coconut oil and MCT oil are the same

Coconut oil provides MCTs and it has antibacterial properties, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories in it.

There is one big difference and that is that MCT oil is much more concentrated.

It contains mostly capric acid and caprylic acid. Coconut oil is just one source of MCTs. Coconut oil also contains other types of fatty acids besides MCTs. 

Who shouldn’t take MCT oil?

Before you add any supplements to your diet or even change your diet, particularly if you have health problems, always speak to a doctor.

MCT oil shouldn’t be taken by people who suffer from allergies to palm oil or coconut oil, or any of the other ingredients that are mixed with MCT oil. You need to be aware of how MCT has been made.

Always read the ingredients label.  Any time you experience worrying side effects from using MCT oil, speak to your doctor.

When all is said and done

Enjoy MCT oil with all its numerous benefits.

But just make sure you always buy high-quality products that clearly state what the ingredients are on the bottle. Check also how the MCT oil was produced.

As we mentioned above, perhaps one of the biggest reasons that MCT oil sales did skyrocket in recent years is due to the growing popularity of “The Bulletproof Diet.”

This diet was created by Dave Asprey.

His dietary approach recommends that people receive 50-70% of their energy from healthy fats such as MCTs, grass-fed butter, and coconut products.

Are you experiencing the health benefits of MCT oil?