Caprylic acid

Caprylic Acid MCTSaturated fats are no longer enemy #1. In fact, a particular saturated fatty acid is gaining attention for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory powers, and touted as somewhat of a cure-all – caprylic acid.

Caprylic acid (C8) is a saturated medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) found in coconut oil and peanuts along with other MCTs such as capric acid (C6). These MCTs are easily absorbed during digestion and are quickly used to produce cellular energy. You have heard about them if you’ve looked into keto diets or buzz about bulletproof coffee.

But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Caprylic acid is gaining notoriety for its three main actions:

1. Caprylic Acid is Antimicrobial

Caprylic acid is a potent antimicrobial agent. In fact, it’s regularly used as a food-contact sanitiser in commercial food handling establishments, a fungicide at garden centres, and within household cleaners. Because of its short chain length (only 8 carbons long), caprylic acid can easily penetrate the fatty acid membranes of certain lipid-coated bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus. Once inside the cell, it can destroy the bacteria’s ability to replicate and may even cause it to self-destruct.

Caprylic acid has been shown to reduce the growth of yeasts, fungi and bacteria in vitro. Whether these effects have any benefit inside the human body hasn’t been confirmed.

2. Ketone Producing & Energy Boosting

Caprylic acid and other MCTs are the stars of a ketogenic diet for their energy-boosting properties. While other, heavier fats are transported through the lymphatic system and are processed in the liver, MCTs diffuse directly from the intestines into the bloodstream, and are quickly used to produce cellular energy. All MCTs are readily converted into ketones by the body – ketones are little packets of energy that yield more ATP than other fuels such as glucose. It takes 3 steps for the body to convert caprylic acid into ATP, but 26 steps to get energy from sugar!

Ketones are also the preferred form of energy for the brain. If you’re looking to boost your memory, concentration and problem-solving, then promoting ketone production with caprylic acid may help. As far as MCTs go, caprylic acid produces 10 times more ketones than its main MCT counterpart, capric acid.

High fat, low carbohydrate diets that boost ketone production have been linked to an improvement in neurodegenerative diseases and general cognition. Unfortunately, these kinds of diets are notoriously difficult to maintain and they often lead to dangerously high LDL cholesterol levels [9]. Here’s where MCTs like caprylic acid can come in – they can boost the level of ketones without affecting cholesterol.

3. Caprylic Acid is highly Anti-Inflammatory

Caprylic acid has been shown to reduce the expression of inflammatory signals throughout the body. How it does this is still a bit of an unknown, but it appears supply energy to cells that are under distress and would otherwise be secreting inflammatory signals. It may also have direct antioxidant properties, but there’s no science to back up that claim yet.

Due to its effects, Caprylic Acid is commonly used for:

Caprylic Acid for Candida

Candida is a body-wide yeast overgrowth that is tricky to diagnose, presenting with common symptoms such as abdominal bloating, fatigue, constipation, low mood and sugar cravings. It’s also notoriously difficult to treat.

Caprylic acid is a natural yeast-killer. In vitro studies have shown that even very low concentrations of caprylic acid can inhibit the growth of Candida albicans, by penetrating through the pathogen’s cell membranes, destroying the genetic code for replication and disrupting its energy synthesis [1] [2]. Whether this has any benefit when taken internally is another matter. The only study on caprylic acid and candida is sketchy at best:

  • A 2011 study found that a dose of 400mg of caprylic acid could improve symptoms of Candida albicans [3]. However, it should be noted that this often-quoted study did not use medical diagnostic tests to confirm a Candida albicans infection, nor to monitor the effects of treatment. Instead, the study used kinesiology diagnostic tools such as the Bi-Digital O-Ring Test (BDORT). The BDORT method of diagnosis was brought to the attention of the New Zealand Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal in 2003, where the tribunal ruled against a practitioner who used BDORT to the exclusion of conventional diagnoses on his patients, finding him guilty of malpractice. We recommending taking this study with a grain of salt.

This doesn’t rule out the possibility that capryilic acid could help to resolve a candida overgrowth – anecdotal evidence about coconut oil cures and caprylic acid supplementation are widespread and very convincing. The research isn’t there to back it up, but it’s not there to deny it either. This goes in the “worth a shot” basket. Speak to a qualified naturopath or integrative doctor for personalised advice on the most effective way to treat candida with caprylic acid.

Caprylic Acid for Weight Loss

Caprylic acid is quickly broken down into energy. Because it is a small medium-chain triglyceride, it can quickly enter both the cell and the mitochondria to produce more ATP. Through this action, caprylic acid can boost the basal metabolic rate – meaning that it will boost the amount of calories the body burns in a resting state.

But does it help weight loss?


To date there are no studies on the effects of caprylic acid extracts for weight loss and, despite the widespread hype, only a few studies adequately look at the impact of coconut oil. In fact, a recent review from 2017 concluded that there is a lack of consistent evidence to support the use of coconut oil as a weight loss measure. Only a few studies stood out as high quality:

  • In 2014, a study showed that 20g of MCT oil containing caprylic acid could reduce the intensity of appetite between breakfast and lunch, and possibly lead to weight loss [5].
  • An earlier study in 2009 showed that obese women who consumed caprylic acid in 15mL of coconut oil per day for 12 weeks experienced a greater reduction in waist circumference than those who didn’t [6].

Not all high quality research had such positive results:

  • A 2017 study demonstrated that taking caprylic acid by eating coconut oil does not have any substantial effect on weight loss or appetite, at least in children. The participants in the study were overweight children aged 13 – 15 years, who were given test meals containing either corn oil or coconut oil. The researchers hypothesised that the coconut oil rich meals would improve satiety and enhance thermogenesis compared to the corn oil meals – in fact, it did neither [4].

Note: All of these studies investigate the use of coconut oil. The limited research available on combined capric and caprylic MCT oil shows more promise when combined with a weight-loss plan and regular exercise [7], but to our knowledge caprylic acid supplements haven’t yet been tested in isolation. Given the outcomes of the trials using naturally occurring caprylic acid, it’s unlikely that supplemental forms would act as a magic weight loss pill.

Ketogenic Dieting: These weight loss studies also do not take into consideration a true ketogenic diet, which, does demonstrate significant weight loss. During a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are eliminated entirely. While adjusting to this, and even during – Caprylic acid is a highly therapeutic source of energy that fuels the body and mind while not producing body fat. Both MCT oils and exogenous ketones are widely used.

Caprylic Acid for Alzheimer’s Disease

Add another condition to the list of diseases that coconut oil can purportedly cure. In 2012, a viral Youtube video showed a remarkable recovery of a man with Alzheimer’s disease by including coconut oil in his diet. While this case was in no way scientifically documented or verified, the science behind it is actually quite valid –

  • Multiple studies of a trademarked caprylic acid supplement have shown that it may cause a short-lived improvement in cognition in Alzheimer’s patients after 90 days [8][9]. The mechanism is unknown but may have to do with ketones providing ample energy to the brain [9]!

While we’re not suggesting that caprylic acid can cure Alzheimer’s, it might help. Speak to an integrative doctor before taking MCT oil or caprylic acid for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia as side effects may cause further degeneration in some people.

Caprylic Acid for Intestinal Health

MCT oils are frequently prescribed to patients with coeliac disease and other conditions of the small intestines, as well as inflammatory bowel diseases that affect the large intestines. Other dietary fats can cause a flare-up of IBD conditions, but MCTs are quickly and effectively absorbed early in their journey through the intestines. This limits the amount of fats left in the intestines that can feed inflammatory processes further down, while still supplying a great source of quick-burning energy that can help to prevent weight loss and boost healing processes throughout the body.

But it gets even better than that – the anti-inflammatory actions of caprylic acid may relieve the symptoms and damage associated with many gastrointestinal conditions.

  • A 2002 study showed that caprylic acid can suppress the secretion of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-8, which are responsible for the symptoms and bowel damage involved in Chron’s disease [10]. These same cytokines are also seen in coeliac disease, stomach ulcers and even IBS [11][12]. By reducing the inflammatory cycles involved in these conditions, caprylic acid may help to relieve symptoms and improve healing.

Did you know that Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both associated with gut infections and overgrowths such as candida? If caprylic acid can help to clear up yeast overgrowths, then it may be a key therapy for IBD [13].

How To Use Caprylic Acid Supplements

You can boost your caprylic acid intake in three ways:

  • Foods: Caprylic acid makes up ~6% of coconut oil. Including coconut oil in your diet will increase your intake of MCTs, but keep in mind you’ll also be boosting lauric acid – a medium chain fatty acid that acts very differently to true MCTs, and makes up ~50% of coconut oil – as well as a host of long chain fatty acids. Coconut oil has many benefits, but if you want to focus on caprylic acid, try an MCT oil or a caprylic acid supplement instead.
  • MCT Oil: Supplemental, concentrated MCT oils contain either a blend of caprylic acid and capric acid, or just caprylic acid on its own. Small amounts of other MCTs may be present, including caproic acid which burns quickly into ketones but tastes really bad, can make your throat hurt, and can cause tummy upsets. That aside, caprylic acid MCT oil is a great way to
  • Caprylic Acid Supplements: Caprylic acid can be formed into a salt by attaching to a mineral, such as magnesium or calcium and packaged into a capsule. These kinds of supplements haven’t been used in any of the research we found, but they may be just as potent (if not more-so) than MCT oil.

Side effects of MCT oils include that throat-burning sensation and tunny upsets we mentioned earlier due to the presence of caproic acid. Caprylic acid supplements may also cause nausea and even extreme diarrhoea, so start with a low dose and them with food if you have a sensitive stomach.

Increasing MCTs long-term may increase the risk of acidosis and high blood pressure. Speak to a qualified nutritionist or integrative doctor if this is a concern for you.

Dosage: Our #1 piece of advice: START SLOW! Many MCT oils recommend a dose of 1tbsp. Starting with this dose can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhoea. Start with ½ tsp per day and work up from there. Speak to a qualified nutritionist for personalised advice.

When To Take Caprylic Acid:

  1. First Thing Before Breakfast: Taking caprylic acid or MCT oil in a fasted state after waking can help to boost mental cognition throughout the day.
  2. Between Meals: If caprylic acid can boost weight loss, taking it throughout the day between meals is likely to be the most effective way to take it.
  3. Before Exercise: Because ketones are quickly burned for energy, caprylic acid can act as somewhat of a pre-workout for better energy production and endurance during exercise.

Best 5 Caprylic Acid Supplements

#5 Pure Encapsulations Caprylic Acid (400mg, 120 capsules)

Pure Encapsulations Caprylic AcidPure Encapsulations use calcium caprylate and magnesium caprylate – these salts contain minerals with two of the saturated fatty acids attached to them. This lends stability to the supplement while it’s packaged. As the slow-release formula is digested in the stomach, the minerals will slowly detach in the intestines, helping the caprylic acid to reach the cells of the bowel.

This is a good choice if you’re looking to try caprylic acid but can’t stomach MCT oil. These capsules are convenient to take and hypo-allergenic – no common allergens, artificial sweeteners or colours, or unnecessary additives.

#4 Natural Vore Candida Complex

Candida ComplexIf you are looking to knock out a candida overgrowth, then you may as well combine caprylic acid with some potent anti-fungal herbs too. This complex from Natural Vore includes 200mg of caprylic acid with candida-killing probiotics, digestive enzymes and herbal extracts such as oregano leaf, black walnut and wormwood. This is a great choice if you’re looking to use caprylic acid for its possible candida-fighting actions.

#3 Perfect Keto MCT Oil (70% caprylic acid, 300 soft gels)

Perfect KetoPerfect Keto have packaged a MCT oil into soft-gel capsules for easy dosing. A great choice if you can’t get past the taste of MCT oil or would prefer to avoid oily residue and greasy “mouth feel”. The oil used contains 70% caprylic acid and 30% capric acid, sourced from non-GMO coconut oil, and each capsule contains 1000mg. The recommended dosage is 3 capsules per day, but take it easy if you’re just beginning to take MCT oil!

This is a great choice if you’re following a keto diet and need an easy and convenient way to boost your fat intake throughout the day.

#2 Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee with Caprylic Acid (10 pouches & 16oz)

Four Sigmatic MushroomFour Sigmatic have put together a great little kit for a supercharged coffee. They’ve included a bottle of caprylic acid MCT oil from Super Body along with their incredible herb-infused coffee blend that includes Lion’s Mane, Chaga mushroom extract and wildcrafted rhodiola, blended with instant coffee powder. Put the coffee mix and the caprylic acid together and you’ve got a long-lasting, ketone-fuelled energy high, without the caffeine crash at the end. Nice! This is a particularly tasty introduce to the power of caprylic acid.

#1 Level Up Clean MCT Oil 100% C8 Caprylic Acid (32oz)

Level Up Clean MCTLevel Up have filtered MCTs to extract as much caprylic acid as possible and concentrated it into a pure C8 MCT oil. By “pure” they mean “as much caprylic acid as possible” – each batch differs with 99.2% – 99.6% purity. We think this is the closest you can get to total caprylic acid in an MCT oil so if you’re looking for a ketone boost, this is a great choice.

Level Up do their best to use coconut oil to source the MCT used in this product. Occasionally they need to use palm oil, but always use Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) as a commitment to the environment – don’t worry, no traces of the palm oil are found in the final, filtered product.

This MCT oil is totally non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free and Halal Certified. With rave reviews and a decent price, Level Up is a great choice for a clean caprylic acid MCT oil.

View Clean MCT Oil on Amazon Here

Further Reading:

  • [1] Takahashi, M., et al. (2012) [Inhibition of Candida mycelia growth by a medium chain fatty acids, capric acid in vitro and its therapeutic efficacy in murine oral candidiasis]. [Article in Japanese]. Med Mycol J., 53:4, 255 – 261.
  • [2] Jadhav, A., et al. (2017) The Dietary Food Components Capric Acid and Caprylic Acid Inhibit Virulence Factors in Candida albicans Through Multitargeting. J Med Food., 20:11, 1083 – 1090.
  • [3] Omura, Y., et al. (2011) Caprylic acid in the effective treatment of intractable medical problems of frequent urination, incontinence, chronic upper respiratory infection, root canalled tooth infection, ALS, etc., caused by asbestos & mixed infections of Candida albicans, Helicobacter pylori & cytomegalovirus with or without other microorganisms & mercury. Acupunct Electrother Res., 36:1, 19 – 64.
  • [4] Labarrie, J. & St-Onge, M. P. (2017) A coconut oil-rich meal does not enhance thermogenesis compared to corn oil in a randomized trial in obese adolescents. Insights Nutr Metab., 1:1, 30 – 36.
  • [5] St-Onge, M. P., et al. (2015) Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men. Eur J Clin Nutr., 68:10, 1134 – 1140.
  • [6] Assunção, M. L., et al. (2009) Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids., 44:7, 593 – 601.
  • [7] St-Onge, M. P. & Bosarge, A. (2008) Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil. Am J Clin Nutr., 87:3, 621 – 626.
  • [8] Hendersen, S. T., et al. (2009) Study of the ketogenic agent AC-1202 in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Nutr Metab (London), 6:13,
  • [9] Murry, A. J., et al. (2016) Novel ketone diet enhances physical and cognitive performance. FASEB J., 30:12, 4021 – 4034.
  • [10] Hoshimoto, A., et al. (2002) Caprylic acid and medium-chain triglycerides inhibit IL-8 gene transcription in Caco-2 cells: comparison with the potent histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A. Br J Pharmacol., 136:2. 280 – 286.
  • [11] Ferretti, G., et al. (2012) Celiac Disease, Inflammation and Oxidative Damage: A Nutrigenetic Approach. Nutrients, 4:4, 243 – 257.
  • [12] Romero-Valdovinos, M., et al. (2012) Interleukin-8 and -10 gene polymorphisms in irritable bowel syndrome. Mol Biol Rep., 39:9, 8837 – 8843.
  • [13] Kumamoto, C. A. (2011) Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization. Curr Opin Microbiol., 14:4, 386 – 391.
About James Lyons

James Lyons (BHSc Nutritional Medicine) is a clinical nutritionist, medical writer, and educator. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and is passionate about improving public access to reliable and accurate health information.


  1. is peanut butter and peanuts healthy? according to a book “The plant paradox” i am reading it states that peanuts are not healthy and even toxis due to lectins?

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