Frequently Asked Questions
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INTERESTING VIRGIN COCONUT OIL FAQs
1. What is Virgin Coconut Oil and how does it differ from the common cooking oil?
Virgin Coconut Oil is produced from fresh coconut meat through natural processing and undergoing without any chemical processing. It is the pure form of coconut oil, water-like in color, clarity, and viscosity. It has a distinct aroma of fresh coconut thus is easier to drink as functional food. (A functional food provides not only nutrition but also therapeutic effects)
The common coconut cooking oil is produced from copra. The oil is extracted from copra by pressing at high temperatures. Being highly contaminated, it is refined by treating with high concentration of phosphoric acid and caustic soda, and steam-heated to about 300 degrees centigrade. The resulting oil is technically called RBD Coconut Oil (Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized Cooking Oil). Due to higher degree of deterioration due to handling and storage of copra, and instense processing, it has a reduced content of Lauric Acid, the main active ingredient responsible for the therapeutic effects of VCO. Further, because of its chemical processing, bland taste and high viscosity, the oil is difficult to drink.
2. How does VCO provide therapeutic effects to the body?
Several scientific studies have shown that the medium-chain fatty acids derived from Virgin Coconut Oil, especially the high content of lauric acid, has at least three functions in the body: 1. as broad-spectrum natural antibiotic killing disease-causing micro-organisms by dissolving or leaking their lipid coatings and cell walls, 2. as immune system booster by enhancing immune system regulation in the nucleus of body cells, 3. as provider of quick energy to body cells by readily entering the cells without need for insulin, and metabolized to energy, and longer availability in the blood without being deposited as fat cells. One of these functions, and their combinations, are responsible for the amazingly numerous health benefits that VCO can provide (refer to list of health of benefits of VCO). Further, VCO improves blood lipid profile, increasing the proportion of HDL-C (good cholesterol) that picks up excess fat and transport back to the liver for metabolism.
3. Why was it previously believed that coconut oil, like meat fat, was bad to ones health thus should be eaten in small quantities or avoided?
It was primarily due to ignorance, and understandably so because of insufficient scientific information at that time about metabolism of coconut oil in the body (the ignorance was in a way similar to that not too long ago when people believed that the earth was flat thus were afraid to travel to
far away places because they might reach the edge and fall, but actually the earth was already round at that time and probably so since the beginning). Coconut oil has some similarity with meat fat because of its being a saturated fat (in chemistry, a saturated fat does not have double bonds between carbon atoms). Although coconut oil is composed primarily of medium-chain saturated fats (MCF) while meat fat is composed of long-chain saturated fats (LCF), the negative reputation of meat fats were extended or extrapolated to the coconut oil even if the scientific studies on saturated fats were only done on meat fats. But now it is clearly understood that MCF from coconut oil is absorbed and metabolized very differently from LCF from animal meat. MCF from coconut oil is digested as fatty acid, an organic acid that is ready for use for body metabolism, and goes directly to the liver after being absorbed in the small intestine. Further, fatty acids travel freely throughout the body through the cardiovascular system because it is soluble in water, the main component of blood. While the LCF from animal meat, after being digested and absorbed in the small intestine, enters the cardiovascular circulation as fat, thus it immediately adds to the fat load of circulating blood after being eaten. As fat, they are not soluble in blood (fat is not soluble in water) thus have to be carried by lipo-protein substances so that they can be transported properly through the blood stream, and when in excessive amount, they have tendency to be deposited in the blood vessels.
4. Is VCO high in cholesterol?
No. Unlike animal fats, vegetable oils contain insignificant amounts of cholesterol; coconut oil contains the least cholesterol of about 0 to 14 ppm which is practically none, among all vegetable oils. On the other hand, a study conducted in New Zealand showed that people who consume coconut oil had increased good cholesterol (HDL) because of the stimulatory effect of increased metabolism.
5. Are therapeutic effects of VCO approved already by BFAD?
Not yet. But there are several ongoing clinical studies by medical professionals and scientific studies by the Department of Science and Technology which may eventually provide
legal basis for approved therapeutic claims. There are numerous testimonies of the health benefits of VCO that purport that it is a food medicine, like its ability to cure flu, and several infections, but it is only classified at present as a functional food.
6. If VCO is good and with strong potential not only as food supplement but as medicine, how come the large pharmaceutical companies have not quickly picked it up for thorough clinical studies?
Research and development activities of pharmaceutical companies are highly confidential thus it is very unlikely to know if they are already into VCO studies or not. Nevertheless, VCO-based health products may not be good business for pharmaceutical companies, especially for the multinational companies, because its research and development value is low. The therapeutic effects of VCO come from its natural state, not from an inventive laboratory synthesis of chemicals and materials which becomes the high-value basis for proprietary claim and source of long-term continuing profit.
VIRGIN COCONUT OIL USAGE
1. If all VCOs are produced from fresh coconut meat, why the VCOs available in the market have a different smell (rancid order, rotten-like color, and odor of caramelized protein)?
First reason is the lack of freshness of the coconut fruit. Once the fruit is harvested from the tree, it immediately starts deterioration. The nut maybe freshly-opened but has been harvested already several days earlier. This condition usually happens when the VCO producer simply buys dehusked nuts. Coconut farmers usually stock their nuts up to the economical quantity of dehusking and delivery, which can take several days.
Second is processing method. Cold-process and fermentation, the most common method of producing VCO, generates rancid smell and taste. Heated process produces VCO with “latik” smell.
Third is processing time. Fresh coconut meat is rich with enzymes that decompose carbohydrates, fats and proteins very fast. The rancid and sometimes rotten odor, are due to the decomposition products: acetic acid from carbohydrates, free fatty acids from fats, and rotten protein.
Fourth is intensity of heating. Heating above 100 degrees centigrade, which can happen in the dry process of producing VCO, cooks the protein and caramelize the sugar present in the coconut meat, giving off the odor of caramelized protein. Some people may like this odor. Due to presence of heating by-products in the oil, some harshness in the throat (tends to be “caught”) maybe felt when drinking it.
2. Are all VCOs available in the market have the same efficacy even if the taste and smell differ?
No. Like any functional food, the efficacy of VCO is affected by the amount of active ingredients (medium chain triglycerides and trilaurin) it contains, and the presence of impurities: hazardous and non-hazardous. A good quality VCO has medium chain triglyceride of at least 62% and trilaurin of at least 52%, with minimal content of non-hazardous impurities like water, and with non-detectable content of hazardous impurities like heavy metals.
3. Is flavored VCO good?
Flavored VCO is helpful to people who could not take the smell and taste of the natural, pure and unflavored one. However, since some flavors are chemically synthesized, flavored VCO may no longer be VCO when it is added with chemicals. A very important concern about flavored VCO is its freshness that consumers may not be anymore able to determine because it is masked by the flavoring. Further, for people whose liver, kidney and other internal organs are no longer in top condition, the artificial flavor could become a significant unnecessary workload to these critical organs: the liver has to break down the chemicals to make it non toxic to the body, and the kidney has to filter out the unnecessary substances and discharge it out of the body.
4. Is VCO in capsule good?
VCO in capsule is good if one is able to take sufficient quantity of VCO. The commonly recommended minimum intake dose for maintenance of good health, which has scientific basis, is 1 tablespoon or 10 ml daily. This means taking 20 pieces of 500 mg VCO capsules. Taking VCO at low dose has very doubtful therapeutic effects. As an analogy, if an adult will take only ¼ of a 500 mg tablet of paracetamol, the dose is useless and will not lower his fever. Intake of VCO below the ” therapeutic dose” will serve only as food providing fat nutrition.
5. Some VCOs I see inside malls and other air-conditioned areas have sediments. Is this okay?
The fat content of VCO solidifies when cooled starting at 25 degrees centigrade. VCO in solid form has the same efficacy as that in its liquid form. Thus solidified VCO is okay. When the solidified VCO is warmed back to room temperature, the sediments should dissolve and completely disappear. Non-dissolution of the sediments is an indicator that these are possibly contaminants.
6. How will I use the VCO?
There are many ways to take VCO: drink it directly by the spoonful; mix it with warm food or drinks; use it as
substitute for butter and margarine. To condition skin or cure skin illness, massage it gently on affected until fully absorbed. To condition hair, cure dandruff, or control hair fall, massage unto scalp, and rinse after 30 minutes, or preferably leave it overnight.
7. What is recommended intake of VCO?
Many people are taking VCO as part of daily lifestyle. For economic practicality, it is recommended that VCO is taken when needed: 1. during illness, 2. during times of high stress – physical, physiological, chemical exposure, biological exposure, emotional, and other similar conditions when the body immune system needs to be boosted to prevent onset of illness due to high stress. The general guide is: for health maintenance purposes, take 1 to 2 tablespoon a day; for therapeutic purposes, take 3 to 4 tablespoon a day; for children use teaspoon; for infants, use drops.
8. When is the best time to take VCO?
In general VCO maybe taken anytime of the day, either as a single dose or divided doses spread throughout the whole day. If specific concern is weight loss, take it before meals. If problem is constipation, take it after dinner. To some people taking VCO late at night may prevent restful sleep due to increased metabolism.
9. Are there side effects to taking VCO?
There are no established negative side effects yet, but there are discomforting experiences in the use of VCO:
VCO has strong detoxifying or cleansing effect on the digestive system, which may cause initial increased frequency of loose bowel movement for people who are prone to stomach upset. This was earlier thought to be a negative side effect but actually is one of the good, though discomforting, effects. The loose bowel movement does not result into dehydration, and successful adjustment of the body normally happens within 1 to 3 days.
VCO increases body energy and metabolism which may cause, upon start of intake, increase in heartbeat for some users, increase in blood pressure for some hypertensive users, and warming sensation on the face due to thermogenesis (one of the natural effects of high metabolism) for some users.
It is best to start taking VCO slowly, spread throughout the day instead of a single dose, and gradually increased to the recommended dose, to experience its health benefits. Intake of VCO should be discontinued in case adverse symptom like dizziness is experienced.
10. There are so many brands of VCO available in the market today. How will I choose the one to buy?
It is very easy to produce a VCO, but it is not easy to produce a truly fresh and consistent quality VCO. The following are recommended when you buy a VCO:
Check the amount of essential contents indicated in the product label. A good VCO production process should achieve high oil extraction rate, indicated by a lauric acid content of at least 50%. Caution: Some VCO in the market have very high lauric acid content indicated in the label. But if all the indicated fat contents are added, it exceeds 100%, implying erroneous figures.
Check the free fatty acid (FFA) content, which is an indicator of degree of deterioration during processing and storage. FFA content should be way below the maximum limit of 0.2%
Check the presence of impurities: water, volatile matter and iron. A good VCO production process leaves behind very small amount of impurities in the product, below the maximum limits specified in the product standard.
Check the presence of hazardous impurities: copper, arsenic and lead. The VCO production process should completely eliminate these impurities or keep at levels way below the maximum limit of the product standard (0.4 mg/kg for copper, 0.1 mg/kg for lead and arsenic)
Check the physical appearance. A good quality VCO is water-like in color, clarity and flow.
Taste-drink it. A good quality VCO retains the natural fresh aroma of freshly cut coconut, thin consistency, and smooth to drink.
We recommend VCO Fresh, produced by AG Nutriceuticals. VCO Fresh is produced from organic coconuts, the harvest of which is fully controlled by the factory in partnership with coconut farmers, ensuring correct maturity, prevention of contamination, and prompt processing (within 24 hours from harvest). The nuts are quickly converted to oil within 2 to 3 hours from opening of the nuts using state-of-the-art production methods: cold-pressed, centrifuged, vacuum pasteurized and dried and micro-filtered. It is produced under world-class management system on quality, health and safety and environment, aligned to ISO 9001, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001 International Standards, and Halal Certification standard. VCO Fresh retains the real natural fresh aroma and taste of virgin coconut oil.