To be healthy and avoid deficiency disease, you must get all the nutrients your body needs. Fats are important nutrients and essential fatty acids (EFAs) are necessary for good health. Some of the fatty acids are classified as being “essential” because our bodies cannot make them from other nutrients – we must get them from our foods. The two basic essential fats are omega – 6 (linoleic) and omega – 3 (alpha-linoleic) fatty acids. Medium-chain fatty acids, like those found in coconut oil, are also important and are considered conditionally essential: that is, under certain circumstances they are just as important as other essential fatty acids.
The FFAs are contained in most vegetable oils but are often damaged by refining and processing or destroyed by free radicals. Therefore, conventionally processed vegetable oils are inferior sources of EFAs. In addition, Tran’s fatty acids from hydrogenated oils, including margarine and shortening, block or interfere with the body’s utilization of EFAs.
You can get the EFAs your body needs directly from your foods, unrefined cold-pressed vegetable oils, or dietary supplements. Coconut oil however has a very small percentage of these fats (only 2 percent). A benefit of using coconut oil in your daily diet is that MCFAs work synergistically with the essential fatty acids, improving the body’s utilization of these fats. A diet rich in coconut oil can enhance the efficiency of essential fatty acids by as by as much as 100 percent (Gerster, 1998). Not only that, but coconut oil also acts as an antioxidant, protecting EFAs from destructive oxidation inside the body.
The world health organization says we need to get about 3 percent of our daily calories from the essential fatty acids. There is no set minimum for the MCFAs, although we know infants probably need somewhere around 5 to 10 percent of calories from this source. We also know from island populations that people can get as much as 50 percent of their calories from coconut oil without harm and that this probably provides them with much benefit. So it appears that for optimal health we should consume a small amount of EFAs along with a significantly larger amount of MCFAs.
Reference : BRUCE FIFE, C. N. (2013). The Coconut Oil Miracle – 5th Edition. New York – USA: Penguin Group (USA) LLC.