Does MCT Oil Cause Headaches? (What The Science Says)

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If you have introduced MCT oil into your supplement regime, you might wonder if it’s possible to experience more subtle side effects with its use, like increased headaches. 

Does MCT Oil Cause Headaches? It is possible MCT oil could cause increased headaches for some users. This is a less common side effect and the cause is unknown, however, anecdotal reports suggest it typically occurs at the beginning of use and it is thought the purity of the supplement and how it is used may contribute to you experiencing headaches.

While information relating to the specific connection of MCT oil and headaches is limited, there have been reports on internet forums discussing headaches as a side effect of MCT oil use. So if you’re looking to understand the correlation between the two in more detail, you are in the right place because in this article I’ll explore:

  • Any correlations between headaches and MCT oil;
  • Reasons headaches may be occurring with your MCT oil usage; and
  • The best ways to respond if your MCT oil is causing headaches.

Reports of MCT Oil & Headaches

To understand more about the connection between MCT oil and headaches, I consulted Reddit for more of an understanding around what users were specifically experiencing. Some common commentary popping up included:

“…Every time I add it to my coffee I end up with a headache several hours later…”

“… I just started using MCT oil last week and have noticed that about half way through the day I start to develop a serious headache and brain fog…”

“…The first brand of MCT oil gave me headaches.”

“…Every time I put MCT oil in something I get what feels like a mild “ice cream” headache an hour or so later…”

Here’s some important context around these complaints though:

  • It often seemed to be occurring early in their MCT oil use;
  • There were improvements when the amount consumed was lowered; and
  • It was associated with how their MCT oil was being mixed.

4 Reasons Why MCT Oil Can Cause Headaches

The main reasons you may be experiencing headaches associated with your MCT oil use are probably because:

  • You haven’t built a tolerance
  • You are taking too much
  • You are dehydrated
  • You have a poor quality MCT oil  

You Haven’t Built a Tolerance

When you introduce MCT oil to your supplement regime it will take time for your body to adjust. It is best to follow dosage recommendations and incrementally build up your dose which will help minimize potential side effects like headaches occuring. 

The guidelines around developing a tolerance to MCT oil are to start small by introducing MCT oil in a teaspoon serving size and building it up over days or weeks depending on how your body responds. 

Continue this gradual process until your daily quantity is at your desired amount, without exceeding maximum amounts of 4 to 7 tablespoons a day.

As a reference approximately 3 teaspoons is the equivalent to 1 tablespoon.

You Are Taking Too Much

Studies have suggested you can consume a maximum of 4-7 tablespoons of MCT oil a day. 

However, it seems consuming more than 1 tablespoon of MCT at a time could lead to you experiencing side effects like headaches, especially if you are doing this multiple times across the day. This is of even more importance if your body is yet to build up a tolerance to the supplement.

Work up to a tablespoon of MCT oil in one serve. If you’re looking to incorporate more MCT oil, spread it out across the day, which should help you manage and respond to side effects like headaches which you may feel.

You Are Dehydrated

It is possible that the headaches you are experiencing are connected to how you are mixing your MCT oil. For example, drinks high in caffeine will cause you to pee more and expel fluid faster than usual. If this is occurring and you aren’t sufficiently replacing what your body is losing you may be feeling dehydrated and experience headaches as a result.

You Have a Poor Quality Mct Oil  

MCT oil is susceptible to containing impurities if it hasn’t been manufactured well or is made from lesser effective MCT fatty acids. Additionally, if the MCT oil you’re using is quite old, it can also go off and in doing so diminish in its quality.

It is possible that a poor quality MCT oil could increase the likelihood of you experiencing side effects like headaches.

Does The Brand of MCT Oil Matter When It Comes To Headaches?

Does the brand of mct oil matter when it comes to headaches?

It is not always the brand that matters, but rather the quality of the product. A product’s quality can be diluted by the ingredients used or its production process creating impurities in the product. These impurities could be connected to why some people get headaches when using MCT oils. 

Importantly though, some brands will be better than others at producing a better quality product. These brands will often talk about how their MCT oil is made and have certain certifications visible on their website. MCTs are not naturally occurring and to create a supplement requires a complicated process where MCTs are extracted from other oils like palm and coconut. So the more information a brand has about its process the more informed you can be on its quality. 

In addition to the production process, be mindful of the ingredients in your MCT oil.  MCTs contain a few different fatty acids, like C6, C8, C10 and C12. Research suggests C8 and C10 are the MCTs with the most benefit. So an MCT oil containing C8 and C10 on the ingredients panel is more indicative of a higher quality product which is possibly less likely to cause headaches.  

The quality of your MCT oil plays can be critical to whether you experience side effects like headaches or not, so when you are deciding on the best one for you:

  • Consider the brand reputation;
  • Any information a brand provides on how their MCT oil is made; 
  • Any certifications listed on a brand’s website; and
  • Check the ingredients list for C8, C10 or both. 

I have already done some ground work here and tried and tested the MCT oil by Bulletproof, who have been long standing in the market, providing quality products backed by countless five stars reviews. So if you’re not sure, Bulletproof products may be a good starting point for you. 

Bulletproof Pure C8 MCT Oil

What To Do If MCT Oil Gives You Headaches? 

What to do if mct oil gives you headaches?

The best tips for you to consider if you are getting headaches with your MCT oil are:

  • Reducing your dose of MCT oil
  • Ensure you’re adequately hydrated
  • Checking the quality of your MCT oil

Check Your Dose

Try lowering the amount of MCT oil you are taking. Consuming high quantities, which could be upward of even a teaspoon at a time for some people, could cause headaches. 

So dial your dose down and instead:

  • Try smaller doses of a teaspoon or smaller, spread across the day; or 
  • Increase your dose gradually each day or week depending on how your body responds. 

Check Your Hydration

If you’re mixing your MCT oil with liquids like caffeine, your body will excrete fluid at a faster rate than if you weren’t using caffeine. If you aren’t taking in enough water to meet your body’s needs you may feel dehydrated and experience headaches. 

To help keep your hydration levels adequate, drink plenty of water. A simple way to know if you’re getting enough water is through the color of your pee:

  • If it’s mostly clear or faintly yellow you’re fine
  • If it’s darker than that, increase your water intake

This is a simple way to self regulate your hydration and minimize headaches associated with dehydration.

Check Your MCT Oil

Do your research when purchasing an MCT oil supplement and check for:

  • User reviews;
  • Manufacturing information; and
  • Ingredients.

The more information a company will provide about its supplement, the more it removes ambiguity and builds trust that you’re getting what you pay for.

I’m Still Getting Headaches, What Else Should I Do?

Persisting side effects of any kind are an indication something is not quite right. If you have tried a few different options to resolve your headaches and haven’t experienced any alleviation, it’s time to consult a professional who will be able to review you and your circumstances to provide advice specific to your needs. 

You can see your usual doctor or you’re able to reach out to one the Registered Dieticians or Nutrition Coaches here at FeastGood, we will gladly assist. 

Final Thoughts

Headaches are a possible side effect of your MCT use, albeit a less common one. Most of the time you should be able to resolve this issue through building up your tolerance and tempering the amount you consume at one time. If you have any persisting issues though, it is best to consult a professional who is best placed to assist with your specific circumstances. 

Other MCT Oil Resources

About The Author

Steph Catalucci

Steph Catalucci is an online nutrition coach from Australia, working with clients all over the world. Her passion for nutrition was born through wanting to treat her body better, for health and performance. She is a strong advocate for understanding nutrition to develop informed nutritional habits that go beyond just food.  Steph leverages a decade of her own nutritional experience to help people make sense of the noise and carve a path forward with their nutrition, supporting clients with whatever body composition goal they have. When not coaching or writing, you’ll find her training for her next powerlifting competition.

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