Lauric acid is medium-chain saturated fatty acid. The saturated fats family contains various fatty acids that differ in their structure, metabolism and functions.
Medium-chain fatty acids, including lauric acid, play an important role as energy-supplying fuel and in intracellular signaling. They also contribute to the regulation of cell metabolism. Lauric acid has many important functions yet study results are controversial. On one hand, lauric acid is the precursor to a compound called monolaurin that has powerful antimicrobial properties. On the other hand, lauric acid, along with myristic and palmitic acid, is considered as atherogenic, meaning it can promote the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries, when consumed in excess.
Lauric acid is found in many vegetable fats, especially in coconut and palm kernel oil. It can be retrieved from coconut oil or fresh coconuts and interestingly, the many benefits that are frequently attributed to coconut oil are due to the presence of lauric acid. However, as the famous saying goes: all in moderation. An excess of lauric acid can also be detrimental, especially if consumed in a processed and engineered form. Some refined oils that contain lauric acid can be harmful as they are made using chemical solvents and toxins. In this way, coconut oil is a much more favorable and natural way to obtain lauric acid. Replacing a part of foods rich in saturated fat by foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (e.g. canola oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, safflower oil) can have a positive effect on health, when eaten in moderation.
Lauric acid is also a type of fat that our bodies can quickly digest, giving us a spike of energy without affecting our blood sugar levels. Among saturated fats, lauric acid has been shown to participate the least to fat storage, since the majority of lauric acid ingested is transported directly to the liver and converted to energy and other metabolites. Some studies have shown that lauric acid is one of the main fatty acid fuels for aerobic metabolism and has a key role in sports performance.
In conclusion, our lauric acid levels impact many aspects of our health. In order to make sure that your lauric acid levels are balanced and steady, make sure to test your levels and to evaluate how you can make the right changes to rebalance your body and mind.