Coconut oil is commonly used for cooking, skin moisturization, and hair oiling in tropical regions. Even research shows that consuming coconut oil is beneficial for children (1). If you want to try coconut oil for kids, use it in small amounts if they have not had it earlier.
But before feeding coconut oil to your little one, consult a pediatrician if your child has a family history of coconut allergy or is allergic to tree nuts such as hazelnuts. Read on as we tell your more about the possible benefits of coconut oil for children and the side effects it may cause.
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. (2) (3). It is slow to oxidize and has antioxidant properties.
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). It is rich in antibacterial and anti bacterial agents. Thus, increases the child’s immunity. 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. It is important to keep the skin moist in eczema. 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). Massaging the baby’s body with coconut oil is beneficial. You may gently apply a few drops of coconut oil on the area of the wound, rash, or injury. It helps in the healing process.
- 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much virgin coconut oil should a child take daily?
A child may take one or two teaspoons of virgin coconut oil daily. However, it might depend on the child’s weight and health and it is always best to consult a pediatrician before administering it.
2. Can we drink coconut oil straight?
Coconut oil has 100% fats, with 80-90% saturated fats, and too much of it can increase the blood cholesterol level (2). Therefore it is not advisable to consume coconut oil directly; instead, mix it with food.
Coconut oil for kids has several benefits. It is known to help grow hair faster or denser and has other benefits. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove most of its assertions, including it, darkens or lightens the skin and helps hair growth. When consumed in moderation and used as guided, pure coconut oil can benefit a child. But if you are doubtful about its use, you must consult the baby’s doctor. Ensure to inform a doctor about any symptom you see post its usage, such as a skin rash or inflammation.
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)