The Importance of Vitamin E for Kids

Young boy eating spinach at dinner table
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Unlike other vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, and vitamin D, parents don't often worry that their kids don't get enough vitamin E. After all, kids often eat plenty of foods that are good sources of vitamin E, especially sunflower seeds, and other nuts.

Good Sources of Vitamin E for Kids

Most kids can get all of the vitamin E they need from foods, including foods naturally high in vitamin E as well as foods that are fortified with vitamin E.

For instance, an ounce of sunflower seeds provides 7.4 mg—the entire recommended daily amount for 4 to 8 year olds. The National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements offers a great information sheet on the daily recommendations of vitamin E for each age group.

Foods Naturally High in Vitamin E
  • Sunflower seeds

  • Almonds

  • Hazelnuts

  • Tomato paste/sauce

  • Mixed nuts

  • Carrot juice

  • Broccoli

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Spinach

  • Greens

  • Pine nuts

  • Wheat germ

  • Avocado

  • Vegetable oil

  • Kiwi

Foods Fortified With Vitamin E
  • Fortified cereals

  • Fortified bottled smoothies

  • Other fortified foods like Peter Pan Plus Creamy peanut butter

Unfortunately, vitamin E isn't usually listed on food labels, so that can make it harder to find foods with extra vitamin E. If you do find vitamin E on the food label, you can usually be confident that it contains more vitamin E than a food item where it is missing. Keep in mind that only the vitamins A and C and the minerals calcium and iron have to be declared on food labels.

Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an important vitamin that also acts as a powerful antioxidant, which helps to protect cells against damage caused by free radicals. It is thought that these free radicals may cause cancer, heart disease, and cataracts.

Claims about the benefits of vitamin E in preventing cancer and heart disease are still controversial, though, so parents likely don't need to be giving their kids supplemental vitamin E. In fact, too much vitamin E can be harmful.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the body. Too much vitamin E can lead to bleeding problems, so it's best to get vitamin E from food rather than supplements, which can lead to unnecessarily high intake for children who aren't deficient.

Vitamin E is also thought to have other effects, including as a:

  • Possible treatment for teens and women with menstrual pain and primary dysmenorrhea
  • Preventative for preeclampsia
  • Topical treatment for scars

Risk Factors for Vitamin E Deficiency

Fortunately, vitamin E deficiency is rare in children, even those who are picky eaters.

Children who are at risk of developing a vitamin E deficiency include:

  • Premature babies
  • Children with malabsorption who can't absorb fat-soluble vitamins, including children with Crohn's disease and cystic fibrosis
  • Children with abetalipoproteinemia, a rare condition that affects how they make and digest fats and fat-soluble vitamins, and rare genetic conditions that affect the transfer proteins that maintain normal vitamin E levels in the blood

Most of these children can be treated with vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin E Supplements for Kids

For most kids, eating nuts, fortified cereals, nutrition bars, vegetables, and juices will provide the vitamin E they need. For kids who don't get enough vitamin E, a supplement may be necessary.

Always talk to your pediatrician before giving kids any supplements. Multivitamins for children that typically have 50 to 150% of the daily recommended allowance (DRA) for vitamin E include:

  • Centrum Kids Complete MultiVitamins, Chewable Tablets
  • One-A-Day Kids Scooby-Doo! Complete Multivitamin, Chewable Tablets
  • My First Flinstones Multivitamin, Chewable Tablets
  • Flintstones Children's Complete Multivitamin, Chewable Tablets
  • Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol Supplement Drops, Multivitamin
  • Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol Supplement Drops, Multivitamin with Iron
  • L'il Critters Gummy Vites Kids Multivitamin

In general, supplements that contain high doses of vitamin E aren't made for, or recommended for, kids.

In addition to vitamin E supplements, children who need extra vitamin E, like those with cystic fibrosis, will usually be prescribed specific supplements as well as encouraged to eat extra vitamin E rich foods.

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Health. Vitamin E fact sheet for consumers.

Additional Reading
  • NIH. Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin E Fact Sheet.

  • USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) (mg) Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure, sorted by nutrient content.

  • Kliegman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed.
  • Vitamin E greatly reduced the severity and duration of menstrual pain in girls with primary dysmenorrhea. Dawood MY - Evidence-based Obstetrics & Gynecology. - March/June 2006; 8(1), 22-23

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.