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What are Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MTFAs)?
By chemical structure, fats are chains of carbons surrounded by hydrogen atoms. The arrangement of hydrogen around these carbon molecules determines its degree of saturation – the more hydrogen, the higher the degree of saturation and the more stable the molecule.
The length of the carbon chain determines many of the fat’s properties. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but primarily consists of medium-chain fatty acids (MTFAs) of between 8 and 12 carbon atoms in length. The shorter MTFAs chains found in coconut oil require less metabolic energy and fewer enzymes to digest. This oil can be emulsified during digestion without excessive burden on the liver or gall bladder. This is one of the health-enhancing properties that may allow coconut oil to provide more rapid, readily available, systemic energy.
The medium chain fatty acid content is what makes coconut oil one of nature’s most powerful broad-spectrum healing foods. The MTFA composition found in coconut oil is: caprylic acid, capric acid, lauric acid, and myristic acid. All of these fatty acids demonstrate antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. Of these, lauric acid possesses the greatest antiviral activity, whereas caprylic acid has the most potent yeast-fighting properties.
MCFAs work to disrupt the lipid membranes of viruses, bacteria, yeast, and fungi. The constituents of the microbe’s cell membrane are very similar in structure to that of MCFAs. This dynamic biological property is what leads to the microbe’s inability to calibrate the location of its own cell membrane in the presence of coconut oil, thus causing them to expel their contents, making them vulnerable to the body’s defense mechanisms.