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Medium-chain Triglycerides Such As Those Found in Coconut Oil May Boost Cognitive Function

As we age, cognitive function tends to decline. A recent study suggests that taking a combination of medium-chain triglycerides, L-leucine-rich amino acids, and vitamin D3 may help improve cognitive function in frail, mature adults.

Participants in the study included 38 people who lived in nursing homes and had a mean age of 87. Over the course of three months, the participants underwent one of three interventinos: 1.2 grams of L-leucine, 20 micrograms of vitamin D3, and 6 grams of medium-chain triglycerides; 1.2 grams of L-leucine, 20 micrograms of vitamin D3, and 6 grams of long-chain triglycerides; a control group that received no supplements.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted an 11% increase in the Mini-Mental State Examination scores in the medium-chain triglyceride group. No changes were noted in the long-chain triglyceride group and the control group had an 8% decline.

They also noted a 31% increase in scores on the Nishimura geriatric rating scale for mental status in the medium-chain group, compared with an 11% decline in the long-chain group and a 26% decline in the control group.

Because similar results were not seen in the long-chain triglyceride group, the researchers believe that the cognitive benefits seen here can be credited to the medium-chain triglycerides.

Researchers from Showa Women’s University in Japan conducted the study. It was published in the 2017 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology.

Medium-chain triglycerides are a form of dietary fat that can be found in coconut oil, grass-fed butter, cheeses, palm oil, whole milk, and full-fat yogurt. Previous studies suggest that they may help with cardiovascular health and weight control.

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