Vitamin E - Why Is Vitamin E Important For Children?
Posted on June 04 2021,
Vitamin E belongs to a group of fat-soluble vitamins, which means that your body can store it and use it when needed. Vitamin E is naturally present in some foods and fortified in others. It is also available in dietary supplements. Vitamin E exists in the form of eight different compounds, including tocotrienols and tocopherols. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form of this vitamin in humans. (1)
This vitamin plays a promising role in boosting immune functions so that you can easily fight off viruses and bacteria that invade your body. Your body’s cells use this nutrient to interact and to perform other vital functions. It also contains strong anti-inflammatory properties, preventing blood clotting within blood vessels by widening them. (2)
One of the significant roles of vitamin E is skin protection. In addition to helping your skin look its best, this vitamin also treats several skin problems such as psoriasis, acne, and the effects of aging. It is crucial that your kids have an adequate amount of this vitamin in their diet so that they can reap the rewards of the several benefits vitamin E has to offer. (1)
How Does Vitamin E Function in Your Child’s Body?
Like other fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin E requires fats for proper absorption in your child’s body. This vitamin is absorbed by the small intestine and stored by the liver, and it is essential to maintaining your child’s overall well-being. (1)
Vitamin E is involved in treating several diseases and immunizing your child’s body against pathogens. Due to its powerful antioxidant properties, it inhibits the formation of free radicals during fat oxidation in the body. Free radicals are compounds created when the body converts food into energy. Exposure to air pollution, ultraviolet sunlight, and cigarette smoke also produce free radicals. A high level of free radicals in your child’s body can enhance the risk of multiple ailments in their later age, such as hypertension, cancer, and heart disease. Thankfully, vitamin E fights against free radicals, acting as a strong antioxidant that protects your body’s cells from damage. (1)(3)
Why Do Children Need Vitamin E?
For proper growth and development, your kids need an adequate amount of both macronutrients and micronutrients. Without these nutrients, including vitamin E, children may face multiple ailments. (4)
Some of the many benefits of vitamin E are following:
- Supports the immune system
- Maintains skin health
- Promotes hair growth
- Supports heart health
Supports the immune system: Like other nutrients, vitamin E is essential for your child’s health. It protects kids from illness and infection by boosting their immune system, making it a crucial part of your children’s daily dietary needs.
How does this vitamin strengthen immune functions in your kids? Vitamin E supports the immune system by increasing the production of immune cells, especially T-cells. T-cells fight against already infected cells and also activate other immune cells for an effective immune response. Research shows that children taking vitamin E supplements for five weeks are less likely to get infectious diseases than their counterparts. (5)
Maintains skin health: Vitamin E makes your baby’s skin smooth and fresh by reducing cell damage, which explains why countless beauty and grooming products contain this vitamin. One study revealed that the topical application of vitamin E reduces the risk of chronic or acute skin damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. (6)
Vitamin E oil also serves as an excellent moisturizer for your child’s sensitive and dry skin. Other oils containing vitamin E are a great option for moisturizing, too. In 2020, one study depicted that almond oil, which is rich in vitamin E, is safe to use as a massage oil for babies. Health professionals claim that the topical use of vitamin E oil on premature babies can improve their skin strength and thickness without causing any harm. (7)
Promotes hair growth: Is vitamin E good for hair growth? Vitamin E oil provides nourishment to your child’s scalp because it locks in moisture and promotes hair growth. Applying vitamin E mixed with coconut oil in your baby’s hair supports a healthy scalp, and lightly massaging your child’s head can offer an added calming effect!
In 2010, a study concluded that people taking vitamin E supplements observe a significant decline in hair loss. It is thought that the antioxidant property of this vitamin reduces the oxidative stress of the scalp that contributes to hair loss. (4)
Supports heart health: Vitamin E plays a crucial role in heart health. A recent study revealed that moderate supplementation of vitamins E and C can reduce the risk of heart disease in kids with a genetic risk factor that makes them prone to heart disease. Another study demonstrated that people taking vitamin E supplements (400 IU) have 20 to 40% less risk for developing heart disease. (8)
What Is Vitamin E Deficiency?
According to health experts, vitamin E deficiency is rare in children. Usually, it occurs as a result of an underlying condition. Most premature infants also have a low level of this vitamin because their immature digestive system does not yet absorb fat and fat-soluble vitamins properly.
Some primary causes of vitamin E deficiency include:
- Genetics: Deficiency of this vitamin often runs in families. Some genetic diseases can lead to the deficiency of this vitamin in kids such as ataxia with vitamin E deficiency (AVED) (an inherited degenerative disease of the brain) and abetalipoproteinemia (a condition that disturbs normal absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from food). (9)
- Medical conditions: Vitamin E deficiency can also result from diseases that severely affect fat absorption in the body, such as celiac disease, liver diseases, and cystic fibrosis (an inherited disease that affects the digestive system and lungs of children). (10)
The common signs and symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include:
- Weakness and muscle pain
- The feeling of tingling and numbness
- Difficulty with walking and coordination
- Vision deterioration
- Weak immune system
Weakness and muscle pain: Does your child often complain about muscle pain or weakness? If yes, then it might be due to the lack of vitamin E. This vitamin is vital for your child’s nervous system, and a deficiency can cause muscle and nerve damage, leading to muscle pain and weakness. One study depicted that vitamin E is the main antioxidant of the human body, preventing oxidative stress and muscle weakness. (10)
The feeling of tingling and numbness: As stated above, a vitamin E deficiency leads to muscle and nerve damage. According to research, damage to nerve fibers can interfere with proper nerve transmission in the body. Therefore, nerve and muscle damage can also lead to loss of feeling and tingling in the body, especially in the legs and arms. (8)
Difficulty with walking and coordination: Kids who are vitamin deficient struggle with walking properly and with basic coordination. Lack of this vitamin can break certain neurons (purkinje neurons), harming their ability to send signals to the body. This interruption in signaling leads to difficulty with coordination and walking in children. (1)
Vision deterioration: Vision problems in children indicate that their diet is deficient in essential micronutrients, especially fat-soluble vitamins. A recent study showed that a lack of vitamin E in children can weaken their light receptors in the retina and other cells of the eyes. This condition results in vision loss over time. (10)
Weak immune system: If your child often gets sick, then they might be deficient in vitamin E given that deficiency reduces the production of immune cells in children and weakens the immune system overall. As expected, a weakened defense system then enhances the risk of disease and infections. One research study demonstrated that both children and older adults benefit from extra vitamin E intake due to both populations’ tendency to have compromised immune systems. (2)
How Much Vitamin E Does Your Kid Need per Day?
Dosing recommendations for vitamin E are given in the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), as developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB). To feel confident you are receiving the optimal amount of nutrients, follow DRI recommendations. (1)
Is it OK to take vitamin E everyday? Yes, vitamin E has many benefits when taken in recommended amounts that are backed by science! The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this vitamin, provided in milligrams (mg), is listed out below. (1)
|Age||Recommended daily amount in milligrams (mg)*|
|0-6 months||4 mg|
|7-12 months||5 mg|
|1-3 years||6 mg|
|4-8 years||7 mg|
|9-13 years||11 mg|
|14+ years||15 mg|
*Recommended amounts of vitamin E are the same for both males and females. People who are pregnant or lactating may require additional amounts, and you should seek the guidance of your physician if you fall into this category.
Should You Give Vitamin E Supplements to Your Child?
For most kids, eating fortified foods, vegetables, and nuts will provide the appropriate amount of vitamin E. However, children who do not obtain an adequate dose through diet will require additional supplementation. Remember that it is best practice to consult a pediatrician before giving supplements to your child. This ensures that age, diet and other factors that can affect nutrient absorption are considered for proper dosing amounts and administration. (11)
Foods That Are Rich in Vitamin E
Most kids eat plenty of foods that are rich in Vitamin E, such as vegetable oils, nuts, sunflower seeds, fortified cereals, and leafy greens. Because vitamin E can be found in readily available, yummy foods, parents can worry less about providing enough of this vitamin in their kids’ diet. In the United States, most people get this vitamin from canola, soya bean, corn, and other vegetable oils. Fortified food products, like breakfast cereals, are also a big source of vitamin E for kids in the U.S. (2)
Here are some foods that contain a healthy amount of vitamin E. (1)
|Food Name||Serving size||Milligrams (mg) per serving|
|Wheat germ oil||1 tbsp||20.3 mg|
|Sunflower seeds, roasted||1 oz||7.4 mg|
|Sunflower oil||1 tbsp||5.6 mg|
|Hazelnuts, dry, roasted||1 oz||4.3 mg|
|Peanuts, dry, roasted||1 oz||2.2 mg|
|Spinach, boiled||1/2 cup||1.9 mg|
|Kiwi fruit||1 medium||1.1 mg|
|Tomato, raw||1 medium||0.9 mg|
|Spinach, raw||1 cup||0.6 mg|
What Are the Side Effects of Taking Too Much Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is generally safe for all when the recommended amounts are taken. However, consuming high doses of vitamin E can cause several side effects, including diarrhea, fatigue, headache, nausea, skin rashes, intestinal cramps, weakness, and blurred vision. (8)
Research has shown that mega doses of vitamin E increase the risk of prostate cancer in humans. It can also enhance the risk of death by heart attack or stroke in people with a history of heart disease. It is important to note that supplementation may increase bleeding risk, and medical professionals have suggested that you should stop taking supplements two weeks prior to having surgery as a safety precaution. You should still consult with your physician to ensure the best course of action if you think this applies to you or your child. Some studies have reported that vitamin E supplements can interact with several herbs and drugs, such as antibiotics and anticoagulants. To prevent potentially harmful side effects, avoid using high doses and always follow the recommended amounts in accordance with your physician. (11)(12)
Vitamin E is an essential fat-soluble vitamin for children, commonly found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. As a strong antioxidant, this vitamin provides several health benefits such as supporting immune functions, promoting hair growth, and maintaining healthy skin. On the other hand, a lack of vitamin E enhances the risk of infectious diseases, hair loss, and weakness in kids. To ensure your child is receiving enough vitamin E, it is important that you try to provide vitamin E rich foods in their diet. In case of severe deficiency, supplements can be given with the approval and guidance of your child’s pediatrician. Always be sure to consult healthcare providers and the DRI when determining your child’s nutritional needs!
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.