Both MCT oil and coconut oil bring their own unique set of benefits to the table, but there’s no reason you have to choose between them.
Notably, MCT oil does not contain lauric acid, a compound found in abundance in coconut oil. (21, 22)
However, one area where MCT oil shows great promise is as a supplement to support brain health and function.
MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil: How They Compare
It is sometimes administered intravenously to critically ill patients, such as those with immune, liver, or pulmonary disease. (13)
The most common side effect of MCT oil is diarrhea and, in more extreme cases, nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
She’s now an outspoken advocate for the use of MCTs and coconut oil for neurological disorders beyond dementia, including Down syndrome, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. (16)
For example, it’s thought that to experience any significant weight loss, you’d have to eat half your daily calories in MCT oil! (3)
C-6 (Caproic Acid): This is a medium-chain fatty acid that is in extremely small concentrations in most MCT oils, and is often processed out of them intentionally. It has a rather unpleasant taste, but as with other MCTs, it can be quickly converted into useful ketones and ATP, valuable “clean” energy sources in the body.
If you begin using MCT oil, start with a small amount, and see how your body reacts. There are certain laxative qualities to this oil, along with other side effects mentioned above, so it’s best to start slow.
Increases Energy Levels
There are a number of impressive health benefits of MCT oil including improving mood, aiding in weight loss efforts, protecting the skin, optimizing digestion, boosting energy, strengthening the immune system, regulating hormones and increasing cognitive function, among others. There are quite a few side effects of MCT oil when it is taken in excessive amounts, due to its extreme concentration of powerful chemical compounds and active ingredients. These side effects can include gastrointestinal distress, anxiety, loss of appetite, inflammation, fatigue, mood swings, hormonal fluctuations, and headaches, as well as complications for people with diabetes and those who are pregnant. Only a very small amount of MCT oil is required for the desired effects, so always use it in moderation or when diluted in some way.
In terms of dosage, MCT oil usage will be different for everyone, depending on their personal health and wellness goals. However, to have an effect on most health conditions, no more than 2-3 tablespoons per day are ever needed. In fact, that amount is on the high end. Most people find 1-2 teaspoons per day can help certain conditions, but everyone is different. The average range is between 2 teaspoons and 2 tablespoons per day.
Aside from its laxative qualities, MCT oil also has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial qualities that can optimize digestion and balance the micro-environment of your gut flora. This will help prevent symptoms of cramping, bloating and constipation, as well as any parasitic or viral infections. 
“It’s colorless and bland in flavor, and since it’s liquid at room temperature, it’s an easy ingredient to add to recipes,” said Harbstreet.
The possibilities are basically endless: You can put it in food or drinks or drop some directly on your tongue.
Isn’t MCT oil just coconut oil?
MCT oil has started to pop up in commercial products such as coffee and smoothies and has been touted as an energy booster and fat burner. Cara Harbstreet, a registered dietitian and blogger, said that MCTs are generally used to help critically-ill patients absorb nutrition through their intestines, by athletes to burn fat instead of carbs and for epilepsy management.
Be careful though – just because MCT oil is a wellness supplement doesn’t mean there aren’t any side effects. Onwuka says that taking MCT oil can have negative gastrointestinal effects and can increase headaches and worsen anxiety.
“Patients with uncontrolled diabetes should avoid taking MCT oil because of increased formation of ketones, which can worsen complications,” said Onwuka. “Patients with liver disease like cirrhosis should also avoid taking it since MCTs are primarily metabolized in the liver.”