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Do medium-chain triglycerides help steatorrhoea?

Abstract

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are mixed triglycerides of fatty acids with chain lengths of 6–12 carbon atoms. They are used as dietary supplements or as a replacement for long-chain triglycerides (LCT) in patients with fat mal-absorption,1 but there is still little good evidence to support the claims for their clinical usefulness. MCT are not present in a normal diet except in breast milk (4–6% MCT). As an energy source they have some potential advantages over LCT: they are more rapidly hydrolysed in the gut lumen2 and may be absorbed intact by the small gut mucosa in the absence of bile or pancreatic enzymes;2 they leave the gut via the portal veins, not the lymphatics3 and they are more rapidly oxidised.4 Their calorific value is 8.4 Kcal/g as opposed to 9Kcal/g for LCT. They are a satisfactory energy source for humans and can be metabolised in many tissues.

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