What's All The Buzz About Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is a traditional oil that has been consumed for thousands of years in tropical cultures. Recently it has gotten a lot of attention in the US and has become a staple for the health conscious crowd. Once seen as detrimental to overall health, the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are now considered a heart-healthy food. It may also support metabolism and hormone health as well supply many benefits when used topically.

Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of lauric acid, a saturated fat which has been shown to increase the “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels. Lauric acid is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT). The digestion of MCTs in the liver has been shown to lead to efficient burning of energy and weight loss.

Coconut oil lowers cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, a molecule that is a precursor to many of the hormones our bodies need. Coconut oil can also positively affect our hormones for thyroid and blood-sugar control. People who take coconut oil also tend to have improvements in how they handle blood sugar since coconut can help improve insulin use within the body. Coconut oil can boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy and endurance.

Coconut oil improves absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as beta-carotene and CoQ10. It also enhances absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

Some of the most common topical uses of coconut oil include moisturizing the skin & hair. Coconut oil has antioxidant properties, so it protects against free radicals that can damage the skin. It also keeps connective tissues strong, preventing skin from sagging and wrinkling. Used as a hair product it can help control dandruff, condition the hair, protect hair from split ends and add shine.

Coconut oil has also been used traditionally for the healing of cuts, burns and wounds because it contains germ-fighting fatty acids with anti-fungal properties that can help kill bacteria and viruses that can cause skin diseases and infections. It also can help to fight off yeast, fungus and candida.

Another topical use of the oil is protecting against the sun's harmful rays. With an SPF rating of about 8, coconut oil allows the sun's rays to enter the skin and produce Vitamin D, which is essential to good health while also neutralizing UV rays with natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Rachel Anzalone is a Traditional Naturopath and Loomis Digestive Health Specialist at Holistic Lakewood.  www.HolisticLakewood.com

Rachel Anzalone

I am a Wellness Coach and volunteer for the Down Town Merchants Association of Lakewood Alive.

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Volume 9, Issue 18, Posted 1:37 PM, 09.05.2013