|Jmol-3D images||Image 1|
|Odor||slight odor of bay oil|
|Melting point||43.2 °C|
|Boiling point||298.9 °C|
|Solubility in water||0.006 g/100 mL (20 °C)|
|Refractive index (nD)||1.423|
|Viscosity||7.30 mPa·s at 323 K|
|Flash point||≥ 110 °C|
|Related compounds||Glyceryl laurate|
|Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)|
|(what is: / ?)|
Lauric acid (systematically: dodecanoic acid), the saturated fatty acid with a 12-carbon atom chain, thus falling into the medium chain fatty acids, is a white, powdery solid with a faint odor of bay oil or soap.
Lauric acid, as a component of triglycerides, comprises about half of the fatty acid content in coconut oil, laurel oil, and in palm kernel oil (not to be confused with palm oil), Otherwise it is relatively uncommon. It is also found in human breast milk (6.2% of total fat), cow's milk (2.9%), and goat's milk (3.1%).
Like many other fatty acids, lauric acid is inexpensive, has a long shelf-life, and is non-toxic and safe to handle. It is mainly used for the production of soaps and cosmetics. For these purposes, lauric acid is neutralized with sodium hydroxide to give sodium laurate, which is a soap. Most commonly, sodium laurate is obtained by saponification of various oils, such as coconut oil. These precursors give mixtures of sodium laurate and other soaps.
In the laboratory, lauric acid is often used to investigate the molar mass of an unknown substance via the freezing-point depression. Lauric acid is convenient because its melting point when pure is relatively high (43.2 °C). Its cryoscopic constant is 3.9 C·kg/mol. By melting lauric acid with the unknown substance, allowing it to cool, and recording the temperature at which the mixture freezes, the molar mass of the unknown compound may be determined.
Potential medicinal properties
In vitro experiments have suggested that some fatty acids including lauric acid could be a useful component in a treatment for acne, but no clinical trials have yet been conducted to evaluate this potential benefit in humans.
Lauric acid increases total serum cholesterol the most of any fatty acid. But most of the increase is attributable to an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (the "good" blood cholesterol). As a result, lauric acid has been characterized as having "a more favorable effect on total:HDL cholesterol than any other fatty acid, either saturated or unsaturated." In general, a lower total/HDL serum cholesterol ratio correlates with a decrease in atherosclerotic risk. Nonetheless, an extensive meta-analysis on foods affecting the total/LDL serum cholesterol ratio found in 2003 that the net effects of lauric acid on coronary artery disease outcomes remained uncertain.
- Lide, D. R., ed. (2005). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (86th ed.). Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-0486-5.
- Beare-Rogers, J.; Dieffenbacher, A.; Holm, J.V. (2001). "Lexicon of lipid nutrition (IUPAC Technical Report)". Pure and Applied Chemistry 73 (4): 685–744. doi:10.1351/pac200173040685.
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- "Using Freezing Point Depression to find Molecular Weight". University of California, Irvine. 2010-04-12.
- Nakatsuji, T; Kao, MC; Fang, JY; Zouboulis, CC; Zhang, L; Gallo, RL; Huang, CM (2009). "Antimicrobial Property of Lauric Acid Against Propionibacterium acnes: Its Therapeutic Potential for Inflammatory Acne Vulgaris". The Journal of investigative dermatology 129 (10): 2480–8. doi:10.1038/jid.2009.93. PMC 2772209. PMID 19387482.
- Yang, D; Pornpattananangkul, D; Nakatsuji, T; Chan, M; Carson, D; Huang, CM; Zhang, L (2009). "The Antimicrobial Activity of Liposomal Lauric Acids Against Propionibacterium acnes". Biomaterials 30 (30): 6035–40. doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.07.033. PMC 2735618. PMID 19665786.
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- Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials
Appendix: occurrence of lauric acid in various foods
- The palm tree Orbignya phalerata Mart, a species popularly known in Brazil as babassu. 50% in babassu oil.
- Attalea cohune, the cohune palm (also rain tree, American oil palm, corozo palm or manaca palm) 46.5% in cohune oil.
- Astrocaryum murumuru (Arecaceae) a palm native to the Amazon, 47.5% in "murumuru butter".
- Coconut oil 49%
- Pycnanthus kombo (African nutmeg)
- Virola surinamensis (wild nutmeg) 7.8–11.5%
- Peach palm seed 10.4%
- Betel nut 9%
- Date palm seed 0.56–5.4%
- Macadamia nut 0.072–1.1%
- Plum 0.35–0.38%
- Watermelon seed 0.33%
- Citrullus lanatus (egusi melon)
- Pumpkin flower 205 ppm, pumpkin seed 472 ppm
- Berner, Louise A. (1993). Defining the Role of Milkfat in Balanced Diets. In John E. Kinsella (Ed.) Advances in Food and Nutrition Research – Volume 37. Academic Press. pp. 159–166. ISBN 978-0-12-016437-0.
- Kabara, Jon J. (1978). The Pharmacological Effect of Lipids. Champaign IL: American Oil Chemist's Society. ISBN 9991817697.
- Kabara, Jon J. (2008). Fats Are Good for You and Other Secrets – How Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Actually Benefit the Body. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-55643-690-4.