Capric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid found in saturated fats. Small amounts are present in cow's milk and goat's milk, but it is abundant in tropical oils such as coconut oil and palm kernel oil. Capric acid, together with other medium-chain triglycerides, is responsible for the health benefits attributed to coconut oil.
Lactating mothers who include virgin coconut oil in their diet have higher amounts of capric acid in their milk, according to study results published in 1998 in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Capric acid — together with lauric acid and caprylic acid, other medium-chain fatty acids — helps to increase levels of high-density lipoproteins — HDL, the "good" cholesterol — relative to low-density lipoproteins — LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. HDL helps protect children from infections and toxins. Researchers at the University of California-Davis found Infections in children to be accompanied by high levels of LDL relative to HDL, they note in a study published in 2004 in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."
Capric acid has strong antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Capric acid is converted into monocaprin in the body, where it can help combat viruses, bacteria and the yeast Candida albicans. Solutions containing monocaprin may be used as a denture disinfectant, Icelandic researchers reported in 2006 in the Scandinavian dental journal "Acta Odontologica Scandinavica."
Saturated fats comprise long-chain fatty acids, which undergo a long digestive process in your body and are not a healthy energy source. Medium-chain triglycerides such as capric acid are broken down quickly and processed in the liver, and can be used as a source of energy to power your workouts.
Medium-chain triglycerides such as capric acid may lead to greater energy expenditure and assist fat and weight loss, according to a study by Columbia University and New York Obesity Center published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2008. You should discuss any weight-loss plans with your doctor, including proposed dietary changes and exercise. Never take any supplements without your doctor's approval.