People in tropical regions use coconut oil for cooking, moisturizing skin and oiling hair. Research on the dietary use of coconut oil suggests that it is usually beneficial to children (1).
If your child is consuming or using coconut oil for the first time, and you are not sure how they may respond to it, then try it in small amounts. But if your child has a history of allergies, then introduce coconut oil after doctor consultation.
In this post, MomJunction tells you if the oil is healthy for children, how it can be helpful and the possible side effects of coconut oil in children.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy To Use For Children?
The uses of coconut oil are either topical or dietary. There are conflicting views on the dietary use of coconut oil. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Publish Health, coconut oil is known to contain 80 to 90% of saturated fat. This fat is considered unhealthy as it increases the level of bad cholesterol, which is associated with heart diseases (2) (3).
However, according to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, the unique fatty acid composition of coconut oil does not seem to increase the risk of heart disease (4). The American Academy of Pediatrics counts coconut oil as a healthy fat and suggests adding it to a child’s diet (5). The academy’s suggestion may indicate that moderate consumption of coconut oil could be healthy for children.
The topical use of coconut oil seems to offer some benefits. The oil is considered a good moisturizer for hair and skin (2). A few fatty acids found in coconut oil may have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties (4).
What Are The Likely Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Children?
Coconut oil has been found to have the below uses.
- Dental hygiene: Dr. Darmin Brady, a researcher at Microbiology Society, suggests using ‘enzyme-modified coconut oil’ into dental hygiene products as an alternative to chemical additives. Coconut oil could be a natural alternative to fight the bacteria that causes tooth decay (6). Rubbing a few drops of coconut oil on children’s teeth might help.
- Moisturizer: Skin issues such as eczema require regular moisturization. Coconut oil could work as a moisturizer to provide relief (7) (8).
- Insect repellant: According to a research study, coconut oil includes fatty acids that work as a repellent to keep mosquitoes and flies away (9).
- Hair health: Coconut oil could help moisturize the scalp, just like the skin. Research suggests that the oil may be used for reducing hair lice (3).
- Skin health: Coconut oil has antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties that could provide relief for acne, wounds, or injuries on the skin (10). You may gently apply a few drops of coconut oil on the area of the wound, rash, or injury.
- Brain and heart health: The fatty acids in coconut oil may be beneficial to the brain and heart (1) (2).
Do not use coconut oil as a replacement for a doctor’s advice or prescribed medication. Ask your child’s doctor or a pediatric nutritionist for the quantity of dietary coconut oil your child can take.
Are There Any Possible Side Effects Of Coconut Oil For Children?
There are no significant side effects of coconut oil for children. However, some of the rare ones include:
- Some children who are allergic to tree nuts and peanuts might be allergic to coconut as well (11).
- Children who are overweight or have high cholesterol may consider avoiding coconut oil due to the oil’s cholesterol levels.
There are certain misconceptions such as coconut oil darkens or lightens the skin, or it can help grow hair faster or denser. There is no scientific evidence to prove these assertions.
Pure coconut oil, when consumed in moderation and when used as guided, can provide benefits to a child. But if you are doubtful about its use, you may have a word with your doctor.
Do you use coconut oil to your child? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
2. Coconut oil; Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
3. Coconut oil; Nutritionfacts.org
4. Health Benefits of Coconut Oil; Pennington Biomedical Research Center (2013)
5. Preschooler’s Diet Shouldn’t Be Fat-Free: Here’s Why; healthychildren.org
6. Coconut Oil Could Combat Tooth Decay; Microbiology Society (2012)
7. So What Exactly Is Eczema?; Texas Children’s Hospital (2017)
8. M. T. Evangelista et al., The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial; International Journal of Dermatology (2014)
9. J. J. Zhu et al.; Better than DEET Repellent Compounds Derived from Coconut Oil; Scientific Reports (2018)
10. A. Gupta et al.; Coconut Oil: The Healthiest Oil On Earth; International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (2010)
11. L. M. Stutius et al.; Characterizing the Relationship Between Sesame, Coconut, and Nut Allergy in Children; Pediatric Allergy and Immunology (2010)
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