All About Vitamin E for Kids

vitamin E for kids

Vitamin E plays an important role in the growth and development of children. In this post, you’ll learn the what, why and how of vitamin E for kids.

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, defining its role as an essential dietary substance in normal fetal development.  Interesting, huh?

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 that is recognized to meet human requirements.  Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient, meaning it needs to be consumed with fat to be properly absorbed.

What does Vitamin E do for Kids?

It works as an antioxidant in the body protecting cell membranes from free radicals that damage cells and which have been linked to the onset of premature aging, cancer, cataracts, and many degenerative diseases.  Furthermore, vitamin E protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation and has been shown to aid the immune system, helping to prevent infections.

Inadequate vitamin E can cause neurological problems and anemia.  Deficiency is rare in humans, however, it is seen in people who cannot absorb dietary fat, has been found in premature, very low birth weight infants and occurs in those with rare disorders of fat metabolism.

So how much Vitamin E do Kids need?

The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for children are:

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

Age Males Females Pregnancy Lactation
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 years 6 mg
(9 IU)
6 mg
(9 IU)
   
4-8 years 7 mg
(10.4 IU)
7 mg
(10.4 IU)
   
9-13 years 11 mg
(16.4 IU)
11 mg
(16.4 IU)
   
14+ years 15 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

Which foods are good sources of vitamin E?

Wheat germ oil is the most abundant source of vitamin E; other sources include nuts, broccoli, peaches, salad dressings, and whole grain cereals just 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 Food Sources of Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol) *

Food Milligrams (mg)
per serving
Percent Daily Value (DV)
Wheat germ oil, 1 tablespoon 20.3 100
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 7.4 40
Sunflower seeds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 6.0 30
Sunflower oil, 1 tablespoon 5.6 28
Safflower oil, 1 tablespoon 4.6 25
Hazelnuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce 4.3 22
Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons 2.9 15
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce 2.2 11
Corn oil, 1 tablespoon 1.9 10
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 1.9 10
Broccoli, chopped, boiled, ½ cup 1.2 6
Soybean oil, 1 tablespoon 1.1 6
Kiwifruit, 1 medium 1.1 6
Mango, sliced, ½ cup 0.9 5
Tomato, raw, 1 medium 0.8 4
Spinach, raw, 1 cup 0.6 4

*Adapted from The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements

Cautions around vitamin E and Kids

Research shows no toxicity from consuming vitamin E in food alone, however, supplements taken in very high doses have been proven to have toxic effects such as 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 no need to worry about them getting too much vitamin E from food. 

Check out the ULs for Vitamin E for children:

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Vitamin E*

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
1-3 years 200 mg
(300 IU)
200 mg
(300 IU)
   
4-8 years 300 mg
(450 IU)
300 mg
(450 IU)
   
9-13 years 600 mg
(900 IU)
600 mg
(900 IU)
   
14-18 years 800 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

How do you include foods rich in vitamin E for your child?

 

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