12 Apr Frequently Asked Questions On Taking Virgin Coconut Oil As Food

Frequently Asked Questions On Taking Virgin Coconut Oil As Food

Teresa E. Santos, CN

President, VCO Philippines

The unprecedented popularity of VCO as food supplement and skin care application has created myths and half-truths. The VCO advocacy we conducted on radio and television highlighted these frequently asked questions by the listening and viewing consumers.


  1. What is VCO?

VCO is defined as “oil obtained from the fresh, mature kernel of coconut by mechanical  or natural means, with or without the use of heat, without  undergoing chemical refining,  bleaching or deodorizing, and which does not lead to the alteration of the oil. “  It is called “virgin” due to its pure, raw, pristine and unadulterated state

  1. How does VCO differ from other coconut oils?


Other coconut cooking oils are derived from copra and undergo chemical refining, bleaching, and deodorizing (RBD) processes prior to being sold.  It is clear, yellowish, and tasteless.

VCO is made from fresh coconuts and does not undergo RBD process.  Thus, it remains pure and clear, and retains the aroma and taste of coconut.



  1. How does VCO differ from other oils?

VCO is saturated oil, made up mostly of medium chain fatty acids.  Other oils such as vegetable oils (corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil) contain mostly long chain fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated.  Olive oil and canola oil are classified as monounsaturated.

Medium chain fatty acids make VCO unique in terms of digestion and metabolism.  Unlike other oils which are digested using bile and pancreatic enzymes, VCO goes immediately to the liver and is converted to energy.

  1. Is VCO high in cholesterol? Is it bad for the heart?

No. Vegetable oils contain insignificant amounts of cholesterol; coconut oil contains the least cholesterol, around 0-14 ppm which is virtually none.

No. Contrary to popular belief, VCO is safe for those with heart disease.  Studies show that coconut-eating people such as Bicolanos and Polynesians have low serum cholesterol levels and have the least incidence of coronary heart disease. A study conducted in New England showed that people who consume coconut oil had increased HDL (good cholesterol) because of the stimulatory effect on metabolism.



  1. Does it contain trans fatty acids?

No. VCO saturation is natural and not from chemical hydrogenation

  1. What is the active ingredient of VCO?

It contains Lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid, which is responsible for many of its health benefits.  VCO contains 48-53% lauric acid.  It is similar to the fats found in mother’s breast milk that confers immunity to babies.

  1. Which viruses and bacteria can be inactivated by lauric acid?

Lipid coated viruses such as HIV, Measles, Herpes Simplex, Vesicular stomatitis virus, Influenza virus, and Hepatitis C can be inactivated by monolaurin derived from lauric acid.

Lipid coated bacteria include H. Pylori, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococci, and h. influenza



  1. Will I gain weight with VCO

    No Because VCO is easily converted into energy and increases metabolism it helps in weight loss. It also contains 7.0 calories per gram, less than the usual 9 calories of other fats.  It is used in some weight loss programs here and abroad.



  1. Who can take VCO?

People of all ages can use or take VCO, including infants (considering that lauric acid is similar to that in breast milk).  It is likewise safe for pregnant women especially those who take VCO to relieve constipation.

  1. How does one use VCO?

There are many ways of using VCO:

  • Food Supplement: It may be taken by the spoonful, or mixed with food or drinks.
  • Topical skin ointment: It may be used topically on the skin, as a moisturizer and to treat minor skin problems. To condition the hair, it may be massaged onto scalp for 20 minutes and then rinsed after
  • Cooking oil: It may be used as a healthy substitute in cooking



  1. What is the dosage of VCO?

For maintenance purposes, take 2 tbsp a day. For therapeutic purposes, take 3-4 tbsp a day

  1. What is the best time to take VCO?

In general, you may take it anytime of the day as a single dose or in divided doses spread throughout the day.

Take it before meals to increase satiety and promote weight loss.  It may be taken after meals, if preferred.

  1. Are there side effects with VCO?

Yes. Although very rare, some people may develop allergic reactions after intake of VCO.  The most common side effect is diarrhea.  It is best to start taking it slowly, spread out throughout the day instead of a single dose.