MCTs paired with exercise improves health-related quality of life, study suggests

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

© vovashevchuk / Getty Images
© vovashevchuk / Getty Images

Related tags MCT exercise Triglycerides

A new RCTl conducted in healthy older adults notes that exercise paired with medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) result in significant improvements to various measures of health-related quality of life (HRQOL), when compared to control.

Following the administration of varying quantities of over 2g/day of MCTs over a 12-week period, alongside walking exercise, measures of physical functioning, mental and general health were significantly improved.

The Japanese researchers conclude: “Therefore, regardless of the octanoic and decanoic acid composition, it is speculated that the combination of a continuous daily intake of 2 g or more of MCTs and walking may have an effect on subjective health and HRQOL in healthy middle-aged and older adults with lower BMIs and no exercise habits.”

Fatty acids for health

With an ever-growing ageing population, it is estimated​ that those aged 65 years and older will reach 31.2% by 2030. As a result, the number of this population requiring further long-term care and support continues to rise​, causing a significant strain on health care systems.

There have been efforts over recent years to alleviate this strain and naturally improve physical functions, quality of life, and subjective health status of older adults. MCTs are known to provide an efficient energy source to the body, unlike ordinary fats and oils containing long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).

Recent studies​ have noted the abilities of MCTs to improve physical function and body composition in older people, whilst improving walking speed and muscle mass. A further study​ in athletes reported a significant reduction in subjective fatigue levels following MCT intakes.

Few studies have investigated MCT intakes on QOL, as well as the effects of differing MCT compositions. Thus, the researchers sought to investigate the effect of intakes paired with moderate-intensity exercise on QOL and subjective health in health, middle-aged participants.

Study specifics

The researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial using 120 Japanese males aged between 60 and 74 years, who exercise or walk less than once a week for less than 30 minutes each time. Participants were equally divided into four groups which included a decanoic acid supplement group (6g MCTs), high-dose octanoic acid supplement group (6g MCTs), and low-dose octanoic acid supplement group (2g MCTs and 4g LCTs), as well as a control group (6g LCTs).

During the 12-week intervention, one packet of the supplement containing 3g of oil was administered after any two of three daily meals, to provide 6g per day of fats and oils. Participants were then instructed to walk for 40 ± 10 min two days a week, self-reporting their performance using a lifestyle questionnaire. Exercise was to be carried out on non-consecutive days of the week, and subjects were encouraged to walk at their habitual walking speed. The SF-36v2 health questionnaire was also given to assess QOL, and knee extension strength was measured before the intervention, as well as at four, eight, and 12 weeks following the intervention.

It was found that scores on subscales of the physical QOL, including physical functioning and general health, were significantly improved following the intervention period in all the MCT supplement groups. Summary scores on the mental QOL were also significantly increased, when compared to the control group.


The report states: “It is estimated that the combination of continuous intake of MCTs and walking exercise may affect HRQOL and improve subjective physical and mental health in sedentary, healthy, middle-aged and older adults.”

The researchers explain the findings: “Octanoic acid has been shown to increase the amount of acylated ghrelin in the stomach, and to activate Akt/mTOR, which is involved in protein metabolism. In fact, it has been reported that continuous intake of octanoic acid-rich MCTs increased plasma albumin concentrations, skeletal muscle mass and strength. Therefore, it has been speculated that the antioxidant effect of albumin (54) and the increase in muscle strength may have influenced the present results.”

The researchers point out that that further research using greater levels of control should be conducted to establish whether walking or MCT had the greatest effect on HRQOL, with the utilisation of objective measures such as biomarkers of fatigue.



Source: Frontiers In Nutrition

“Effect of medium-chain triglycerides supplements and walking on health-related quality of life in sedentary, healthy middle-aged, and older adults with low BMIs: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial”

Haruna Ishikawa, Keiichi Kojima, Shinji Watanabe, Naohisa Nosaka, Tatsushi Mutoh

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