The effects of medium chain triglyceride (MCT) supplementation using a C8:C10 ratio of 30:70 on cognitive performance in healthy young adults

Ashton, Jake S. and Roberts, James W. and Wakefield, Caroline J. and Page, Richard M. and MacLaren, Don P.M. and Marwood, Simon and Malone, James J. (2020) The effects of medium chain triglyceride (MCT) supplementation using a C8:C10 ratio of 30:70 on cognitive performance in healthy young adults. Physiology & Behavior, 229. ISSN 0031-9384

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Purpose: The brain can utilise medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) as an alternative fuel than glucose, and research has shown that MCT ingestion improves cognitive function in diseased and/or elderly individuals. The aim of this study is to determine if these improvements can also be observed in young, healthy adults. Furthermore, we aim to establish the ideal dosage and timeframe necessary for an effect.

Methods: Participants were divided equally into three groups of 10 (Placebo (0g), 12g and 18g MCT/day) and were supplemented for 4 weeks. The supplement had a C8:C10 ratio of 30:70. Participants visited the laboratory once a week for 5 weeks (baseline, test weeks 1-4) to undergo a battery of cognitive tests; Trail Making, Digit Span, Spatial Span, Covert Shift of Attention, and Rapid Visual Information Processing.

Results: After 2-3 weeks of supplementation, MCT ingestion enhanced performance in cognitive tasks, including: Trail Making A/B and Digit Span Forwards/Backwards (ps<0.001) when compared to a placebo group taking a carbohydrate gel. In Spatial Span Backwards, there was a significant main effect of group (p=0.002). Where significance was seen, there were main effects of time after 2-3 weeks (ps<0.05). There was minimal difference between the two MCT intervention groups in most measures (ps>0.05). There were also null results in tasks measuring attention and reaction time (ps>0.05).

Conclusions: MCT ingestion improved cognitive performance after 2-3 weeks, with minimal difference between taking 12g and 18g MCT/day groups, suggesting a possible dose-response threshold at 12g MCT/day when supplementing over a short period.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is the authors' version of an article that was accepted for publication in Physiology and Behavior. The final, published version is available from:
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: James Malone
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2021 11:44
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2021 11:47

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