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All About Vitamin E for Kids

This post has been updated from its original version.

Vitamin E plays an important role in the growth and development of children. In this post, you’ll learn about vitamin E benefits for kids and vitamin E rich foods you can include in meals and snacks.

Vitamin E Benefits and Foods for Kids

 

The History of Vitamin E

When vitamin E was discovered in 1922, it was called the “fertility vitamin.”  Researchers found that lab rats fed a diet deficient in vitamin E became sterile and only regained their fertility after consuming vitamin E. 

A few years after its discovery, vitamin E was scientifically named tocopherol from the Greek word tokos meaning childbirth, and phero meaning to bring forth.

Vitamin E was officially recognized for its role as an essential dietary substance in normal fetal development. 

Interesting, huh?

What is Vitamin E?

Even though its name makes it sound like a single substance, vitamin E is actually a family of essential vitamins that include both tocopherols and tocotrienols. 

Naturally occurring vitamin E exists in eight chemical forms that have varying levels of biological activity. 

Alpha-tocopherol is the only form of vitamin E that is recognized to meet human requirements

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient, like vitamin D, which means it needs to be consumed with fat to be properly and optimally absorbed in the body.

vitamin E for kids

Vitamin E Benefits for Kids

Vitamin E works as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants are elements that protect cell membranes from damage.

You may have seen advertisements for skin cream with vitamin E, touting its anti-aging effects and use of free radicals. 

Free radicals have been linked to the onset of premature aging, cancer, cataracts, and many degenerative diseases, like macular degeneration which causes vision loss. 

Furthermore, vitamin E benefits the skin by protecting it from ultraviolet radiation and has been shown to aid the immune system, helping to prevent infections.

What Happens When You Can’t Get Enough Vitamin E?

Inadequate vitamin E can cause neurological problems, such as nerve and muscle damage that can cause a loss of feeling in the arms and legs, poor body movement control, and muscle weakness.

Vision problems and a weak immune system may also be signs of vitamin E deficiency.

The good news? Deficiency is rare. 

However, it does exist. Vitamin E deficiency is seen in people who cannot absorb dietary fat.

It’s also been found in premature, very low birth weight infants and occurs in those children and adults with rare disorders of fat metabolism.

How Much Vitamin E Do Kids Need?

The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for children are:

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol) **

AgeMalesFemalesPregnancyLactation
0-6 months*4 mg
(6 IU)
4 mg
(6 IU)
  
7-12 months*5 mg
(7.5 IU)
5 mg
(7.5 IU)
  
1-3 years6 mg
(9 IU)
6 mg
(9 IU)
  
4-8 years7 mg
(10.4 IU)
7 mg
(10.4 IU)
  
9-13 years11 mg
(16.4 IU)
11 mg
(16.4 IU)
  
14+ years15 mg
(22.4 IU)
15 mg
(22.4 IU)
15 mg
(22.4 IU)
19 mg
(28.4 IU)

*Adequate Intake (AI)

**Adapted from The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements

What Foods Have Vitamin E?

Wheat germ oil is the most abundant source of vitamin E.

Other foods high in vitamin E are nuts, broccoli, peaches, salad dressings, and whole grain cereals to name a few. 

Did you know that eating just 1 cup of raisin bran with 1 ounce of almonds meets 100% of the Daily Value for an adult or child 4 years of age and older? 

Have a look at the facts about a few foods that contain E:

Selected Vitamin E Foods (Alpha-Tocopherol) *

FoodMilligrams (mg)
per serving
Percent Daily Value (DV)
Wheat germ oil, 1 tablespoon20.3100
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce7.440
Sunflower seeds, dry roasted, 1 ounce6.030
Sunflower oil, 1 tablespoon5.628
Safflower oil, 1 tablespoon4.625
Hazelnuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce4.322
Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons2.915
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce2.211
Corn oil, 1 tablespoon1.910
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup1.910
Broccoli, chopped, boiled, ½ cup1.26
Soybean oil, 1 tablespoon1.16
Kiwifruit, 1 medium1.16
Mango, sliced, ½ cup0.95
Tomato, raw, 1 medium0.84
Spinach, raw, 1 cup0.64

*Adapted from The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements

Can Vitamin E Be Toxic for Kids?

Research shows it is unlikely to experience toxicity from vitamin E in when eaten in food form alone.

However, vitamin E supplements taken in very high doses have been shown to have toxic effects, like hemorrhaging. 

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for Vitamin E applies to supplemental vitamin E only, so unless a child is taking vitamin E supplements, there is generally no need to worry about overdosing or toxicity issues. 

In other words, it’s generally accepted that you cannot get too much vitamin E if you stick with food. This rings true for most nutrients: Food is the best and safest source of nutrients.

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Vitamin E in Children*

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
1-3 years200 mg
(300 IU)
200 mg
(300 IU)
  
4-8 years300 mg
(450 IU)
300 mg
(450 IU)
  
9-13 years600 mg
(900 IU)
600 mg
(900 IU)
  
14-18 years800 mg
(1,200 IU)
800 mg
(1,200 IU)
800 mg
(1,200 IU)
800 mg
(1,200 IU)

*Adapted from The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements

Bottom Line: The vitamin E benefits outweigh the drawbacks, especially if you source vitamin E foods.

How do you include Vitamin E foods in your child’s diet?

All About Vitamin E for Kids

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