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Medium Chain Functional Lipids: An underestimated ingredient


There are high hopes for medium chain functional lipids in the fight against bacteria and viruses. These functional lipids can improve gut health by affecting microbiota and immune function.


BY CHRISTIAN CORDTS, PRODUCT MANAGER FEED ADDITIVES, BERG+SCHMIDT B


elieve it or not, the antimicrobial properties of medium chain functional lipid acids have already been known since the 1800s. The implementation into feed applications was simply overlooked due to


the widespread acceptance and use of antibiotics. With the increasing concerns over antibiotic resistant bacteria and legislation restricting the use of antibiotics, there is a renewed interest in functional lipids. Furthermore, the positive influence on the gut health and therefore the preventative usage is obviously something to look into. Each medium chain functional lipid (Medium-chain fatty acids MCFA, Medium-chain-monoglycerides MCM and medium- chain triglyceride MCT) have a unique structure and activity. Therefore, a better understanding in the mode of action and the broad options of usage are of high interest.


Figure 1 - Fatty acid structures. Glycerol (glycerine)


Fatty Acid Chains (C8)


The nature of functional lipids In nature, these fats can be found, predominately in the triglyceride form, in palm kernel and coconut oil and in the milk fat of some animal species. As fat, they provide energy, but due to their chain length and unique structures (Figure 1), they also exhibit other functionalities and can be referred to as functional lipids. These medium chain functional lipids can be antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. This is especially the case for MCM having the fatty acid attached in the 1-alpha position. Therefore, these medium chain functional lipids can improve gut health by beneficially affecting diet, intestinal microbiota and immune function. Depending on the temperature MCMs are liquid or solid. Due to their higher efficacy, they have a lower inclusion rate compared to MCFA, making them easier to handle.


Mode of action These modes of action fall into three categories 1) Increased cell permeability, 2) Inhibition of enzymes and nutrient uptake and 3) Disruption of the electron transport chain. Increased cell permeability of bacteria or enveloped viruses is the primary target. Medium chain functional lipids form dou- ble-layered micelles that can fuse with the bacterial cell membrane. This fusion can result in the formation of mem- brane surface pores and tubes causing cell leakage. At high enough concentrations, fatty acids can completely solubilise


Medium Chain Triglycerides


Fatty Acid Chains (C10)


Hydrogen Carbon Oxygen


Glycerol Monolaurate (GML) Fatty Acid Chains (C12)


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▶ GUT HEALTH | DECEMBER 2020

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