Can Kids Have MCT Oil? (Quick Answer!)

By KidSpaceStuff •  Updated: 03/16/24 •  7 min read

Have you ever watched your child devour a bowl of spaghetti and wondered, “Could MCT oil be a healthier alternative to this carb-loaded meal?” MCT oil, a medium-chain triglyceride oil, is a popular dietary supplement known for its benefits in adults, such as quick energy supply and weight management.

In this article, we will dive deep into the world of MCT oil and its potential implications for children. We’ll explore the scientific evidence, consider professional medical opinions, and weigh the pros and cons. After reading this, you’ll be well-equipped to decide whether MCT oil has a place on your child’s menu.

Now, Can Kids Have MCT Oil?

Yes, MCT oil can be safe for kids to consume under certain circumstances.

MCT oil, derived from medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and some dairy products, can be easily digested and serves as a rapid energy source for the body. It is used in the dietary management of various clinical conditions related to infants’ gastrointestinal issues, including cows’ milk protein allergy, colic, constipation, reflux, and lactose intolerance.

Understanding MCT Oil

A picture of MCT oil in a cup

MCT oil is a dietary supplement that’s gained much attention recently, particularly among fitness enthusiasts and individuals following a ketogenic diet. MCT stands for “medium-chain triglycerides,” a type of fat.

Let’s break it down further:

What are medium-chain triglycerides? 

Medium-chain triglycerides are a type of fat metabolized differently from long-chain triglycerides (the most common fat in your diet). They’re called “medium-chain” because they have a certain number of carbon atoms (6 to 12) in their chemical structure. This medium size affects how our bodies handle them.

Where does MCT oil come from? 

MCTs are naturally found in certain foods, like coconut oil and palm kernel oil. MCT oil is a concentrated form of these MCTs and often comes from these sources.

Why do people use MCT oil? 

MCTs are easily digested and absorbed by our bodies. Because of this, MCT oil can provide a quick energy source, especially for those on a low-carb diet. When carbohydrates are scarce, our bodies can use MCTs to produce ketones, a brain energy source.

Why Consider MCT Oil for Kids?

MCT oil could be considered for kids for several reasons, primarily related to its unique properties and potential health benefits. Let’s unpack this in simpler terms:

  1. Easy Digestion: MCT oil is easier to digest than many other types of fats. This is because MCTs are processed directly in the liver and don’t require the same digestive enzymes as longer-chain fats. This can particularly benefit kids with digestive issues or difficulty absorbing nutrients.
  2. Quick Energy: MCTs provide a quick source of energy. This could benefit active kids who need sustained energy for their daily activities and sports.
  3. Brain Health: MCTs can be converted into ketones, a type of molecule that can be used by brain cells for energy. This could support brain health and cognitive function.
  4. Weight Management: Some research suggests that MCT oil might help with feelings of fullness, which could aid in maintaining a healthy weight. This is more applicable to teenagers concerned about weight management.
  5. Potential Therapeutic Uses: MCT oil has been used therapeutically for specific medical conditions, such as epilepsy, autism, and neurodegenerative disorders. It’s always important to have these uses supervised by a healthcare provider.

Potential Concerns and Risks

While MCT oil can potentially benefit children, it’s important to consider possible risks and concerns. Let’s make it simple:

  1. Digestive Discomfort: One of the most common side effects of MCT oil is digestive discomfort. This could include symptoms like nausea, stomach cramps, or diarrhea. Typically, these side effects occur when starting MCT oil or taking too much at once. Starting with a small amount and slowly increasing it can help reduce these side effects.
  2. High in Calories: MCT oil is calorie-dense, meaning it has a lot of calories in a small amount. While this can benefit some children, such as those who have trouble gaining weight, it could lead to excessive calorie intake and weight gain in other children if not carefully managed.
  3. Potential Allergic Reactions: Some people may have allergies to the source of MCT oil, such as coconuts. If your child has known food allergies, you should be careful when introducing MCT oil and watch for any signs of allergic reactions.
  4. Interactions with Certain Medications: MCT oil could interact with certain medications, including those for liver disease. If your child is on any medication, consult a healthcare provider before introducing MCT oil.
  5. Long-term Effects: The long-term effects of MCT oil use in children must be better-studied. Because of this, caution and regular check-ins with a healthcare provider are recommended when using this supplement.

MCT oil can have potential benefits for kids. It’s important to introduce it carefully and monitor for any side effects or changes. As with any new dietary supplement, you should consult a healthcare provider or dietitian before introducing MCT oil into your child’s diet.

Guidelines for MCT Oil Use in Children

Just like any dietary supplement or change in diet, introducing MCT oil to children should be done with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Here are some simple guidelines:

1. Start Slow

Begin with a small amount of MCT oil and gradually increase the dosage. This can help prevent any potential digestive discomfort when initially introducing MCT oil.

2. Monitor for Side Effects

Keep a close eye on your child for any potential side effects, such as stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or signs of allergic reaction. If you notice these symptoms, discontinue use and consult a healthcare provider.

3. Consult a Healthcare Professional

Always speak to a healthcare provider or a dietitian before introducing new supplements into your child’s diet. They can provide guidance based on your child’s specific health needs and medical history.

4. Use as Part of a Balanced Diet

MCT oil is not a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. It should be used as a supplement to, not a replacement for, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

5. Be Aware of the Source

Make sure you know the MCT oil’s source (such as coconuts or palm kernel oil) and check for any potential allergens. Also, opt for high-quality, pure MCT oil without added ingredients.

Remember, every child is unique, and what works well for one child may not work for another. It’s essential to monitor your child’s reaction to MCT oil and adjust as necessary under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Don’t know the effects of MCT oil on the human body? Check out the video down below!

The Role of Healthcare Professionals

When giving MCT oil to kids, doctors and nurses are very important. Their knowledge lets them give advice that fits the health needs of each child.

Before taking MCT oil, talk to a doctor, dietitian, or other medical expert. They will examine the child’s diet, physical problems, and medicines. This helps them decide if MCT oil is a good food for the child.

MCT oil might help kids with autism, seizures, or stomach problems. In these situations, a doctor will tell you to take it and tell you how much. They can help you add oil to your diet slowly so you don’t get stomachaches.

Doctors can also monitor how the child responds to MCT oil and change the dose or how often it is given as needed. They can also keep an eye out for harmful effects.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, under certain conditions, MCT oil can be consumed safely by kids.

Using MCT oil for kids can offer several benefits, including easier digestion, quick energy supply, brain health support, and potential therapeutic services for certain health conditions. However, like any dietary supplement, it’s essential to approach its use cautiously. It is crucial to start with small doses, monitor for any side effects, and, most importantly, consult with a healthcare professional before introducing it into a child’s diet.

Every child is unique, and their nutritional needs may vary. While MCT oil can complement a child’s diet, it should not replace a balanced and varied intake of nutritious foods. The long-term effects of MCT oil in children still need to be better understood, so regular check-ins with a healthcare provider are recommended when using this supplement.Thanks for reading!