Coconut Oil As Nutritonal Supplements

Coconut oil is a product extracted from coconut meat. In tropical and subtropical countries where coconuts grow abundantly and people often eat either coconut meat or coconut oil, it has been found that people are less overweight and are at lower risk for heart disease. In fact, several studies have shown that coconut oil offers health benefits that surpass other types of oils. However, in many places coconuts are scarce and expensive, so one way to incorporate them into a healthy diet is to use coconut oil supplements.

Coconut oil as a health supplement is available as bottled virgin coconut oil or as coconut oil capsules. Liquid coconut oil in jars may be taken by spoonfuls although one may find it unpleasant. This oil may also be used for cooking or as an ingredient in foods.

There is no fixed dosage, but natural health advocates recommend taking 3 – 4 tablespoons (35 – 45 grams) of organic coconut oil per day. This may be taken in 3 divided doses with meals, but for people who are just beginning to take the supplement, lower doses may be appropriate.

The more convenient way of enjoying the benefits of coconut oil is by taking supplements insoft gel capsule form. Ideally, the capsules should be organic and free of additives to ensure quality. Most capsules come in doses of 1000 mg or 1 gram.1

How Coconut Oil Supplements Work

Virgin coconut oil contains no trans fat and is a rich source of healthy saturated fats called lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid that has the unique property of being easily absorbed and digested, and unlike other fats, is not deposited into fat tissue. It comprises about 50% of the fat content of coconut oil, and is converted to monolaurin, which provides the following health benefits: 2, 3

  • It helps reduce “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels, while increasing good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
  • It has antimicrobial effects – it inactivates bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
  • It helps improve metabolism, reduce body fat, and promote weight loss.
  • It has a protective role against certain cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer.
  • It helps improve digestion.
  • It enhances immune system function.
  • It helps control blood sugar levels and prevents diabetes.
  • It helps protect against kidney and liver disease.

Another fatty acid found in coconut oil is capric acid, which also helps normalize body lipids, protects against alcohol induced damage to the liver, and improves the anti-inflammatory response by the immune system.


According to Mary G. Enig, PhD, a licensed nutritionist and an expert of international renown in the field of lipid biochemistry, the exact amount of food made with lauric oils needed to reap the benefits of lauric acid in the diet is not known.

Infants probably consume about 0.3 to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight from human milk or an enriched infant formula containing coconut oil, an amount which appears sufficiently protective. Adults, as well as growing children, may benefit from consuming 10 – 20 grams of lauric acid per day.2 Experts recommend starting at lower doses and gradually increasing. A common side effect of coconut oil intake is loose bowel movement, so exceeding the maximum recommended dose is ill advised. Allergic reactions are rare. 4

Choosing a Coconut Oil Supplement

People who are interested in buying virgin coconut oil (VCO) may have some difficulty choosing a brand from the many choices available in local health food and grocery stores. It’s helpful to know that “virgin coconut oil” refers to a process of oil extraction which requires low or no heat at all. Regular VCO uses low heat, while extra-virgin coconut oil uses no heat. Another variant is the enzymatic VCO where water soluble enzymes are used to extract the oil and no heat is applied. Any of these methods produce high-quality coconut oil so look for these.

All variants of coconut oil are free of trans fat and provide the benefits of lauric acid, although those that do not use heat in processing retain most of the antioxidants. Regular VCO varieties have a milder aroma and taste while others have a more distinct nutty character and are more expensive.5 In choosing coconut oil gel capsules, one should look for products those that contain no additives like sugar, starch, yeast, or preservatives.