Fractionated coconut oil is just a product that contains purely MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) after going through a refining process that involves fractionation. However, companies may label their fractionated coconut oil differently to depict a different focus that gears towards the market demand. You'll learn about that soon enough.
So now, let's get down to find out whether you can eat fractionated coconut oil or not.
If you're referring to the one that is simply labeled as Fractionated Coconut Oil (like those below), then you can't eat this type of fractionated coconut oil. That's because they're solely made for use on skin, hair, scalp and body. They're for external use only. In other words, they're not fit for consumption.
You can easily find on their labels words like "promote healthy skin", "soothe dry skin", "hair care", "carrier oil", "massage oil", "skin moisturizer" etc which provide further evidence to show that the oils are not edible.
Some may have a free pump for you to conveniently squeeze out the oil for use. A few may even offer you a separate smaller spray pump bottle as well (see below). Or they are already packaged in a spray pump bottle so that you can readily spray fractionated coconut oil on your skin.
Another fractionated coconut oil – MCT oil
On the other hand, if you're referring to another type which is commonly known as MCT Oil, then yes, you can eat this fractionated coconut oil.
A few brands may include the term "fractionated" in their labels. Just don't get confused with those meant for skin care as I mentioned earlier.
As long as you see words like "energy", "metabolism booster", "thermogenic", "ketogenic", "sports", "weight management", "dietary supplement" etc on the label, then you can confirm that this fractionated coconut oil is edible. You can definitely consume it. You can even cook with it.
If you use MCT oil in your cooking, its odorless "odor" will wave up with the heat and you might not like the pungent smell. And the mouthfeel of the cooked food is quite odd. Maybe I'm not used to using an oil that doesn't make my food oily.
As you can see from those terms I just pointed out, MCT oil is vastly popular as a special dietary supplement among athletes.
Especially the powerlifters, they're crazy about this fractionated coconut oil as it can help them break down unwanted body fat while retaining their muscle mass. This fractionated coconut oil can also help boost their energy level that in turn, improve their overall performance.
MCT oil has also been used in the hospitals (since 1950s) to treat patients who have problems digesting fats composing of long-chain triglycerides, suffer from malabsorption syndrome, Crohn's disease and epilepsy etc.
Just a gentle warning to you (in case) that too much MCT oil can have a "laxative" effect on you. Which is why some athletes reported GI symptoms or abdominal pain after taking MCT oil.
And so, to this small group, MCT oil impairs their performance instead of improving.
To make MCT oil work perfectly for you, you should always start off with a very small amount like 1–2 teaspoons for the first few days. And once you feel your body has gotten used to the oil, increase your intake to 3 or 4 teaspoons per day for another few more days and so forth.
This progressive way of consuming MCT oil can help to condition your body for more intake in the future. You'll then be able to eat more MCT oil without getting any GI symptoms, or at least, mitigate the reactions.
On top of that, make sure you spread out the doses and take it with food rather than straight from the bottle. This helps to slow its digestion, thereby sidestepping its side effects (GI symptoms).
The "new" fractionated coconut oil
Because fractionated coconut oil can stay in liquid form at pretty low temperatures such as 14 to 25 °F (-10 to -4 °C) depending on the composition of their MCTs (e.g. 60% caprylic acid with 40% capric acid OR 68% caprylic acid with 32% capric acid etc), some companies have given it a new name to make it stand out from the pool of various brands of fractionated coconut oil on the market.
They call it Liquid Coconut Oil.
It is mainly "designed" for use in cooking, salad, smoothie etc. This means that you can eat this type of fractionated coconut oil because it has passed the quality assurance to be sold as food (FDA approved).
Besides being edible, you can actually use liquid coconut oil for skin care, hair care and body care too so that you need not buy a separate bottle of fractionated coconut oil just for external use. You save money. Same goes for MCT oil.
So now, I suppose you're pretty clear on how to identify which fractionated coconut oil you can eat and which you can't, right?
Actually, there's one very simple trick to instantly pick the edible type of fractionated coconut oil for you.
Look for Supplement Facts or Nutrition Facts on the label.
Only fractionated coconut oil that is fit for consumption will have either Supplement Facts (as in MCT Oil) or Nutrition Facts (as in Liquid Coconut Oil) on the label.
The one that is labeled as Fractionated Coconut Oil will never have this piece of info on its label. It makes no sense to display that since it is not a food and so won't require to provide info such as serving size, nutritional breakdown etc.
Some fractionated coconut oils that are made solely for external use may also include the term "liquid coconut oil" on their labels. Pretty confusing for many people. A good example would be NOW Solutions pure fractionated liquid coconut oil. Using the tactic above, does its label have Supplement Facts or Nutrition Facts? No, right? Then you shouldn't eat it.
I mean, if you're in a hurry you can use this tactic. If you have more time to spare, I strongly encourage you to scrutinize the label for more info (don't miss out on the fine print too).
Oh, don't forget to read especially the part where they mention the facility they use to process or package the oil. If you can't find any info regarding that, email them before you purchase.
That is particularly critical if you're allergic to certain food. It's also imperative if you're a strict vegetarian or vegan who cannot tolerate the product being processed in an environment that also handles animal-based stuff.
Being cautious will make sure you're getting the right fractionated coconut oil for your needs.
Is it good to eat fractionated coconut oil?
You've come this far and you know that you can ingest fractionated coconut oil in the name of MCT Oil and Liquid Coconut Oil.
Now the question is, is it really good for you to eat fractionated coconut oil?
Some people have argued that fractionated coconut oil is created out of the byproducts after extracting certain compounds from coconut oil or palm kernel oil for the manufacturing of synthetic detergents, drugs and health supplements.
Also, it's a man-made oil and not a natural one like virgin coconut oil. So, it's no good to consume fractionated coconut oil.
It's true that fractionated coconut oil was first manufactured by re-combining caprylic and capric acids (into triglycerides) which are left over in the process of extracting lauric acid, myristic acid and palmitic acid for making drugs, health supplements, soaps, detergents and cosmetics etc.
But as more people learn about the health benefits of caprylic and capric acids, manufacturers begin to treat these two medium-chain fatty acids as two of the important substances for extraction, and not as byproducts anymore.
What's more, some manufacturers have gone the extra miles these days to include lauric acid (the most powerful antimicrobial that is present in virgin coconut oil) in the making of MCT oil and liquid coconut oil.
Adding this extra medium-chain fatty acid does pack a punch.
It can now better protect you against a broader range of bacteria, viruses and other germs. It also raises the smoke point by about 10–30 degrees, depending on the quantity of lauric acid added.
Which explains why it is marketed as a healthy fractionated coconut oil for cooking and consumption.
However, due to the high melting point of lauric acid that solidifies at about 109.8 °F (43.2 °C), manufacturers can't add too much lauric acid to the content for fear of defiling its claim as a liquid at room temperature even in cold climate. The max they can go falls within the range of 30–36%, as far as I know.
How about fractionated coconut oil that is solely used for external? Will they add lauric acid to enhance its protection for our skin?
I don't think so because adding lauric acid may cause it to lose its capability as a lightweight carrier oil. Lauric acid is relatively larger in size so it will make the oil heavier (thicker). But I believe some of them are beginning to consider adding a few percent to enhance its protection for skin without affecting its weight too much.
Whether it is made out of byproducts or not, and whether it is man-made or not, the fact is, fractionated coconut oil can't be any worse than most vegetable oils that contain primarily long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) and unsaturated fatty acids that are hard to break down and easily get deposited as body fat, and encourage oxidation, right?
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are saturated fats, and so they're not prone to oxidation.
Therefore, you're better off consuming fractionated coconut oil under the name of MCT Oil or Liquid Coconut Oil than eating soybean oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and even the so-called health-promoting olive oil that contain mostly long-chain triglycerides and predominantly unsaturated fatty acids.
Of course, if you need more protection against harmful microbes, why choose to eat fractionated coconut oil? Why not choose virgin coconut oil that carries more antimicrobials with lauric acid as high as 50% or more per serving?
If you compare fractionated coconut oil against virgin coconut oil, not only you'll realize that virgin coconut oil gives you more health benefits, but also costs lower for the same volume.