Get to know myristic acid

Raise your hand (but keep the other one ready to scroll down the page and continue reading) if you’ve ever needed to use coconut oil for your skin because regular moisturizers just weren’t cutting it for your daily beauty regimen. Have you ever wondered what is in that coconut oil — as well as palm oil, butter fat, nutmeg and spermacetin — that makes it work the way it does?

Meet myristic acid, also known as tetradecanoic acid.

myristic acid

Myristic acid gets its name from nutmeg, Myristica fragrans. In fact, 75% of nutmeg butter is made up of a derivative of myristic acid, known as trimyristin, its triglyceride.

The structure of myristic acid is relatively straightforward: a saturated 14-carbon chain with a terminal carboxyl group. It is usually found as a white powder that is insoluble in water, hence the fatty acid classification.

As was mentioned above, myristic acid is used in soaps, as is the case with a lot of other fatty acids. Depending on the type of fatty acid, your soap will have different characteristics and benefits. With myristic acid, your bar of soap will have a characteristic hardness, good cleansing properties and a nice fluffy lather.

However, before you start ingesting this fatty acid by the tons for beauty purposes, you should be aware of new research that suggests health issues and complications. In a study presented at Digestive Disease Week 2016, it was found that patients with ulcerative colitis could be more likely to experience a flare if they eat a diet high in coconut oil. Abnormally high levels of myristic acid can also interrupt the proper functioning of Small Valosin-Containing Protein Interacting Protein (SVIP) — which regulates levels of “bad cholesterol” in the bloodstream.