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Friday, March 21, 2008

Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) as Functional Food

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Human milk fat has a unique fatty acid composition. It is approximately 45 to 50 percent saturated, about 35 percent monounsaturated and 15 to 20 percent polyunsaturated. Of the saturated fatty acids made in the mammary gland, up to 18 percent can be the antimicrobial fatty acids lauric acid and capric acid. These antimicrobial fatty acids give the infant protection against viruses such as HIV and herpes, bacteria such as chlamydia and heliocobater, and protozoa such a giardia lamblia.

The levels of these antimicrobial fatty acids can be as low as 3 to 4 percent, but as noted below, when lactating mothers are fed virgin coconut oil, the levels of lauric acid and capric acid increase significantly in the milk. This gives an important added benefit; the milk supply has increased amounts of the protective antimicrobials lauric acid and capric acid, which will give even greater protection to the infant.

What is the mechanism(s) at work? The pregnant female stores fat to be used in lactation. Any lauric acid and capric acid in the diet becomes part of the adipose stores.

The lactating female uses the fatty acids from the adipose stores and from the current diet for building the milk fat. Without added lauric acid from the diet, the mother’s milk has about 3 percent lauric acid and 1 percent capric acid because the mammary gland also manufactures lauric acid and capric acid to provide the infant with antimicrobial benefit. Some mothers manufacture more than others and thus have more protection to offer their infant.

When lauric acid is in the diet from foods such as the virgin coconut oil the amount of lauric acid in the mother’s milk increases substantially to levels three times the original level and nearly double the amount of capric acid. This gives the infant even more protection against viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. In some countries where coconut is in the food supply, the levels of lauric acid and capric acid in the mother’s milk can be as high as 21 percent and 6 percent, respectively


One of the best benefits of virgin coconut oil lies in its ability to help stimulate your metabolism.

Research studies have demonstrated that replacing LCFAs with MCFAs results in both decreased body weight and reduced fat deposition. So, by changing the fats in your diet from the unsaturated long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) found in vegetable or seed oils to the medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in virgin coconut oil, along with following an exercise plan, you may find yourself gradually losing those unnecessary pounds.

The reasons are simple:

1. The long-chain fats nearly always go to fat storage, while the MCFAs are burned for energy

2. Since virgin coconut oil helps to stimulate your metabolism, you may burn more calories each day, helping to accelerate weight loss (and probably your activity & energy level)

Virgin coconut oil has often been compared to carbohydrates in its ability to be "burned" for energy. However, since insulin is not involved in the process of digesting the MCFAs in coconut oil, you won't get those carb-related spikes in your blood sugar level. This is especially good news for those of you concerned about maintaining normal blood sugar levels.

In fact, the ability of MCFAs to be easily digested, to help stimulate the metabolism and be turned into energy has entered the sports arena. Several studies have now shown that MCFAs enhance physical or athletic performance.

Research has demonstrated that, due to its metabolic effect, virgin coconut oil increases the activity of the thyroid. A sluggish thyroid is one of the reason why some people are unable to lose weight, no matter what they do. Besides weight loss, there are other advantages to boosting your metabolic rate. The healing process accelerates. Cell regeneration increases to replace old cells, and your immune system functions better overall.


Virgin coconut oil is ideal for skin care. It helps protect your skin from the aging effects of free radicals, and can help improve the appearance of skin with its anti-aging benefits.

Physiologist and biochemist Ray Peat, Ph.D., considers virgin coconut oil to be an antioxidant, due to its stability and resistance to oxidation and free radical formation, and also because it reduces our need for the antioxidant protection of vitamin E. Many other experts believe virgin coconut oil may help restore more youthful-looking skin. When virgin coconut oil is absorbed into the skin and connective tissues, it helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by helping to keep connective tissues strong and supple.

Virgin coconut oil will not only bring temporary benefits to the skin, but it will aid in restoring your skin's youthful appearance. The virgin coconut oil will aid in exfoliating the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother. It also penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin to strengthen the underlying tissues.

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