Oil made with medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, can help prevent Alzheimer's disease, treat certain types of seizures in children, improve the absorption of calcium and magnesium, decrease body fat, increase lean muscle mass and provide nutritional support for athletes. However, more research is needed to confirm the proposed benefits of MCT oil, according to WebMD.
MCT oil includes a different chemical structure than the long-chain triglycerides of dietary fats, and it is normally made by processing palm kernel oil or coconut oil in a laboratory. It is normally used for medicinal purposes to help treat food absorption disorders such as celiac disease, diarrhea, liver disease and fat indigestion. MCT oil is also used to help treat the rare lung condition chylothorax, chyluria, cystic fibrosis, gallbladder disease and AIDS, according to WebMD.
MCTs are also delivered intravenously to prevent muscle breakdown in critically ill patients and to provide nutrition to patients whose GI tracts are no longer functioning, states WebMD. Side effects include diarrhea, nausea, stomach discomfort, vomiting and intestinal gas. Consuming MCTs with food helps to reduce side effects. Those who are pregnant or breast-feeding as well as patients with diabetes or liver problems should avoid using MCTs to prevent potentially harmful side effects.