Lauric Oils

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Lauric Oils

excerpts from "Lauric oils as antimicrobial agents: theory of effect, scientific rational, and dietary application as adjunct nutritional support for HIV-infected individuals"

By Mary G. Enig, PhD


More than a decade and a half after the beginning of the AIDS epidemic there is still general agreement in the medical community that there "remains an urgent need for interventions" that include, in addition to an effective vaccine, safe and inexpensive drug therapies to treat individuals already infected with HIV-1. Such therapies should include effective adjunct nutritional support regimens.

Since the current research suggests that individuals infected with the HIV-1 virus progress more rapidly to AIDS when they have higher levels of the virus RNA, it is clear that alternative treatment modalities that help to lower the virus load would be useful. Although some of the recent studies (reported in 1996), using multiple drug cocktails, have been shown to lower viral load and look promising, the expense of such treatment is considerable (more that $15,000 per person per year). There are also concerns that there may be increased risk that such treatment might lead to drug-resistant viral strains. Thus, the potential benefit of regularly including in diets inexpensive and safe components that can help to lower the viral load, such as the lauric oils, represents a desirable nutritional support regimen for HIV-infected individuals worth investigating.

Medium-chain saturated fatty acids are well-known for their virucidal effects against viruses with lipid membranes as well as against numerous other pathogenic microorganisms. These antimicrobial fatty acids and their derivatives are essentially non-toxic to man; they are produced in vivo by humans when they ingest those foods that contain adequate levels of the appropriate medium-chain saturated fatty acids such as lauric acid.


None of the clinicians from the mainstream nutrition/dietetics community seems to have recognized the added potential to be gained by use of antimicrobial lipids in the nutritional support treatment of HIV-infected individuals or patients who have progressed to AIDS. These antimicrobial fatty acids and their derivatives are essentially non-toxic to man; they are produced in vivo by humans when they ingest those commonly available foods that contain adequate levels of medium-chain fatty acids such as lauric acid. According to published research, lauric acid is one of the best "inactivating" fatty acids, and its monoglyceride is an even more effective antimicrobial than the fatty acid alone.

Probable Levels of Lauric Acid Required For Antimicrobial Effect

Based on the amount of lauric acid found in human milk, which is known to be effective in its role as an antimicrobial component for the infant, the percent of calories that would be appropriate can be determined. For example, human milk provides at least 3.5% of calories as lauric acid for the human infant. Mature human milk has been noted to have up to 12% of the total fat as lauric acid (approximately 6.6% of calories. The upper end of this range represents approximately twice the amount of calories as lauric acid (i.e., 7% of calories) as does the minimum.

When developing lauric-rich diets for adults, one can use this range as the starting point for calculating the amount of lauric fat to be consumed. Based on the upper end of the range, we see that this would entail providing an adult consuming 3000 kilocalories a day with 52 grams of coconut oil (approximately 24 grams of lauric acid). This could be accomplished by use, for example, of two 250 ml cans of a calorically dense enteral formula (e.g., Carnation Nutren 2.0) if that product was made with full coconut oil. As it is, that product is made with MCT oil and corn oil and provides no lauric acid.

Lauric acid-rich diets can be developed readily for infants and children. For infants, a formula made with coconut oil that supplies at least 7% of the calories as lauric acid would be needed. When infants progress to solid food, these foods can be enriched with added coconut oil. Cereals and strained baby foods make ideal bases for 2-5 gram additions coconut oil (0.5-1.0 teaspoons). This would add approximately 1-2 grams of lauric acid. Children can utilize the same protocol as outlined for adults with alterations in the portions of food depending on the caloric needs of the child.

The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer .  The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not replaced professional advise and consultation.  A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions 

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