C8 vs. C10 vs. C12: A Simple Guide to MCT Fractions

coconuts and coconut oil containing c8 c10 and c12 mcts

What exactly is the difference between C8, C10, and C12 MCTs?

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are powerful nutritional tools to have in your cabinet. MCTs are a special class of fat that your body turns into energy very quickly. You can get MCTs from coconut oil, or you can buy them in purified form, as MCT oil. There are three main types of MCT - C8, C10, and C12 - and each offers unique benefits, from fat loss to heightened immune function.

Fat molecules look sort of like rats: they have bodies with long, thin tails. In the case of fat molecules, the tails are made of carbon. C8, C10, and C12 MCTs get their names from the number of carbons in their tails (8, 10, and 12).

That difference in tail length gives each MCT specialized benefits. Which one is best for you depends on your goals. By the end of this article, you’ll know what each MCT does, and how you can use it to improve your performance.

In this article you will learn about:

C8: The Energy Booster

You’ll find C8 (also called caprylic acid) in coconut, palm oil, butter, and the milk of mammals. It’s the shortest of the MCTs, which makes it the easiest for your body to break down into fuel. That’s the secret to C8’s first benefit:

  • Quick, stable energy. When you ingest C8, it almost instantly turns into ketones, little bundles of energy that are a powerful alternative to the body’s typical fuel source, glucose. Ketones are more efficient than glucose, creating more energy while using less of the oxygen you breathe in. No surprise that C8 leads to better physical performance. You can feel C8 working - it offers mental clarity and stable energy a few minutes after you drink it.
There are a couple other benefits to C8, too:
  • Fights infection. C8 is a powerful antibacterial. In a 2005 study, researchers added C8 to cow’s milk. The C8 killed nearly all the Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli bacteria in the milk.
  • Reduces gut inflammation. Adding C8 to your diet may suppress interleukin 8, a protein that causes intestinal inflammation. That could mean smoother digestion and may make C8 especially useful if you’re healing a leaky or sensitive gut.

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C10: The Antifungal Phenomenon

C10 (also called capric acid) comes from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, goat’s milk, and animal fats like tallow. C10 comes with a couple of interesting benefits:

  • Killing yeast and fungi (including Candida). C10 is a powerful antifungal. In a 2001 study, C10 rapidly destroyed 3 strains of Candida albicans, a yeast that can cause digestive issues when it gets out of control in your gut.
  • Boosting immunity. When breastfeeding mothers supplemented with C10-rich foods, the C10’s antimicrobial power was passed on to the nursing infants, boosting their ability to fight off infections and viruses. No word on whether full-grown adults will get the same benefits, but considering how effectively C10 kills infectious pathogens, it seems plausible.

C12: The Antimicrobial Force

C12 (also called lauric acid) makes up about 48% of the fat in coconut oil.  You can also find it in palm oil and milk.

Out of the 3 types of MCTs, C12 is the most powerful antibacterial. Your body turns C12 into monolaurin, a potent compound that kills pathogens like measles, herpes simplex, Staph, and E. coli.

C12 does a few other things, too:

  • Weight loss. People who replaced some of the fat in their diet with C12 lost more weight and ate fewer calories than those that ate normally. Swapping out some fat with MCT oil or coconut oil could help you gradually lose weight.
  • Fighting acne. A 2009 study concluded that, due to its strong antimicrobial properties, C12 was more effective in the treatment of acne than the leading acne treatment, benzoyl peroxide. But before you start rubbing coconut oil on your face, know that it clogs pores in some people. You may be better off using pure MCT oil for skincare instead.
  • High-heat cooking. C12 has a high smoke point. It’s the reason coconut oil is so good for high-heat cooking like sautéing and frying.

The Bottom Line: C8 vs C10 vs C12

Though there is overlap when it comes to the advantages of C8, C10, and C12, each MCT has its own unique benefits. A good option is to choose an MCT oil that contains all three, like our 100% Pure Coconut MCT Oil or our Keto Coffee Creamer.

One quick note: coconut oil and palm oil are also good sources of MCTs. If you have a choice between the two, we suggest choosing coconut. The palm industry is one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction and is putting orangutans at risk of extinction. If you’re going to get your MCTs from palm oil, look for a certified sustainable source.

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