Some theories suggest that components in coconut oil, such as ketone bodies, may potentially affect Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, there is currently not enough evidence to suggest coconut oil can help prevent or treat the condition.
Some research suggests coconut oil may have potential benefits for AD, but researchers require further quality studies to explore these findings.
This article examines whether coconut oil can affect AD, along with alternative prevention and treatment options.
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In AD, areas of the brain may lose the ability to use glucose properly, which is the brain’s main energy source.
One of the main theories behind coconut oil for AD is that ketone bodies, from caprylic acid in coconut oil, may provide energy to cells in the brain.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA), which the liver absorbs and metabolizes. MCFA creates ketone bodies, which act as an energy source in the brain and may benefit people who have or are developing impaired memory.
Researchers divided participants into two groups of 22. One group followed a coconut oil-enriched Mediterranean diet for 21 days, while the other was a control group.
Researchers found improvements in episodic, temporal orientation, and semantic memory in the coconut oil group. These improvements were more significant in females with mild-moderate Alzheimer’s, although some improvements occurred in male participants and those with more severe disease.
Although this research may suggest the potential benefits of coconut oil, researchers require much more evidence with large-scale placebo-controlled human studies to understand the effect of ketone bodies and coconut oil on AD.
A 2019 systematic review examined coconut oil’s effects on cardiovascular health.
The review found that coconut oil was beneficial for cardiovascular health compared with animal-based oils, as it increases “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
However, in comparison to plant oils, coconut oil significantly increased “bad” LDL cholesterol. The researchers do not recommend people replace unsaturated fats from plant oils with coconut oil.
The following measures may help people reduce their risk of developing AD:
- Exercising: Regular exercise may help increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain to support brain cells.
- Following a heart-healthy diet: Heart-healthy diets, such as the Mediterranean or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, may also have protective effects on the brain.
- Staying social: Developing strong social connections may help prevent cognitive decline with aging.
- Staying mentally active: Staying engaged with intellectual activities and mental stimulation may help strengthen nerve cell connections in the brain. Examples include reading, puzzles, and games. Performing those activities with someone else can further increase this benefit.
- Protecting against head trauma: Serious head injuries may increase the risk of cognitive decline. Protective measures include wearing a seat belt, wearing a helmet in sports, and reducing the risk of falls in the home.
- cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil
- lecanemab and aducanumab
Behavioral therapies and coping strategies may help people manage the personality and behavioral changes associated with AD.
The following are common questions about coconut oil and memory loss or AD.
Can coconut oil help with memory loss?
There is currently not enough evidence to know whether coconut oil can help with memory loss.
How much coconut oil should I take daily for memory?
There is no evidence to suggest taking a certain amount of coconut oil will benefit memory. This means there is no recommended amount of coconut oil to take.
Are there any oils that are good for AD?
Consuming olive oil as part of a Mediterranean diet may help with AD.
Are there any oil supplements to help reduce the onset of AD?
There is not enough evidence to suggest coconut oil is beneficial for preventing or treating AD. However, a healthy diet and lifestyle habits can help reduce the risk of developing AD.
To help reduce the risk of developing AD, a person can take part in regular physical activity, eat a heart-healthy diet, and keep the brain active.