Vitamin E on a plant-based diet. What does vitamin E do and what are some vegan vitamin E sources? Here are some great vitamin E foods that are easy to include on a plant-based diet.
Vitamin E isn’t necessarily a nutrient of concern for most people, on a plant-based diet or not.
Still, we think it can be helpful for parents and caregivers to understand where major nutrients come from, particularly when feeding little ones.
Chances are good that your babe already enjoys at least a couple of good sources of vitamin E, but if not, here’s what to know about this important nutrient.
What is vitamin E?
One of the most important things to remember about fat-soluble vitamins is that they’re best absorbed eaten with dietary fat.
Additionally, while toxicity of fat-soluble vitamins is extremely rare from food sources, they do some with risk of getting too much when taken in supplemental form. This is one reason it’s helpful to know what foods contain vitamins A, D, E, and K.
“Vitamin E” actually refers to a group of compounds, not just one. There are actually eight chemical forms of vitamin E, but the most important one – and the only one relevant for meeting human nutrition needs – is alpha-tocopherol.
The primary role of vitamin E in the body is as an antioxidant. This means it works to protect cells from oxidative damage that can lead to disease.
It’s also involved in immune function, cell signaling, gene expression, and various metabolic processes.
How much vitamin E do kids need?
We don’t need a ton of vitamin E to meet our daily needs. The RDA for vitamin E among kids are as follows:
- 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
Fortunately, there are plenty of foods that contain vitamin E and can be easy to include regularly in your family’s diet.
Vegan vitamin E foods
A wide variety of plant-based foods contain vitamin E. Nuts and seeds, as well as their butters and oils, are some of the richest sources.
Some great vegan sources of vitamin E, as well as amounts and ideas for using them, include:
- Wheat germ oil contains 20 mg in 1 tablespoon. This has a very low smoke point, so it’s not recommended for cooking. Instead, add small amounts of wheat germ oil to mixed green salads, pasta or cooked vegetable dishes after they’re prepared. Dried plain wheat germ contains around 4.5 mg vitamin E in 1/4-cup, and can be used as a crumb topping for muffins and casseroles, or sprinkled over pancakes and waffles.
- Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, but whole almonds (and other whole nuts) are a choking hazard for babies and toddlers, so don’t give them to kids under 5 years old. Before then, however, almond butter thinned with water can be great for younger kids. Just 2 tablespoons of almond butter contains around 8 mg of vitamin E. Add a thin layer to strips of toast, onto slices of banana, mixed into oatmeal, or used in AB&J sandwiches.
- Peanut butter also contains vitamin E, around 3 mg in 2 tablespoons. We love using peanut butter in smoothies and in chickpea protein snack balls.
- Sunflower seeds – or sun butter, an allergen-free and toddler-friendly alternative to nut butters – is another great source of vitamin E. Just 2 tablespoons of sunflower butter has around 7.5 mg of vitamin E. Shelled sunflower seeds work well in homemade granola bars. Or, use sunflower butter in many of the same ways you would use peanut or almond butter.
- Spinach and broccoli offer around 1.5 mg of vitamin E each in a 1/2-cup boiled. These are great simple foods to help introduce your babe to greens, just cook and cut them up into small pieces.
- Mango, tomato, and kiwi fruit also contain a small amount of vitamin E. 1 medium kiwi, 1 medium tomato, or 1/2-cup of sliced mango will give you around 0.7-1 mg of vitamin E each. Mango chia pudding is one of our favorite healthy desserts.
- One avocado contains just over 3 mg of vitamin E. Avocado strips work well for baby-led weaning. Mash them onto toast or make them into guacamole!
It’s easy to find vitamin E on a plant-based diet and meet your babe’s needs for this nutrient. Enjoy these vegan vitamin E sources!
Chime in: What vitamin E foods does your babe enjoy? What are some that you could add?
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