Hemp seeds don't contain a great deal of vitamins per serving, partly because a serving is small. In fact, you would have to eat about a pound of hemp seeds in order to get your Recommended Daily Allowance of any of the vitamins they contains. What's more, the heat process used to sterilize hemp seeds before sale diminishes their vitamin content. Nonetheless, the vitamin content in hemp seeds, even sterilized, is comparable to that of other whole grains.
Whole vs. Shelled Hemp Seeds
Some of the vitamin content in hemp seeds is located in the shell, which means that shelled or hulled hemp seeds, also known as hemp seed nuts or hemp hearts, contain a different concentration, usually less, of those vitamins. For example, according to a comparison of nutrition facts provided by Hemp Traders, the hull of the hemp seed contains about .4 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams while the nut contains 1 mg per 100 grams.
A potent antioxidant also known as retinol, vitamin A is important for strong vision and aids in the growth of soft and skeletal tissue such as the skin, mucous membranes and teeth. Whole hemp seed contains about 37.5 IU per gram of vitamin A while the hemp nut contains only about 4 IU per 100 grams.
According to the European Industrial Hemp Association, 100 grams of shelled hemp seeds contain 90 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin B1, or thiamine, and B5, or pantothenic acid, as well as 30 percent of the DV of B3, or niacin.
You get most of your vitamin D from sunlight and dairy products, but hemp seeds do contain a small portion of it as well: approximately 10 IU or less per 100 grams of whole seeds. Some hemp nuts have been fortified with vitamin D, such as those from Hemp Traders, which contain 2,277.5 IU per 100 grams. Vitamin D is important in building bones, strengthening the immune system and reducing the risk of certain diseases, like cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Hemp seed has some vitamin E, with 100 grams containing 20 percent of the DV. In a 2008 "Critical Review of Clinical Laboratory Science" report, the authors described vitamin E's antioxidant properties and its subsequent benefits in preventing heart disease. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin E also functions as an anti-inflammatory and immune system enhancer and may help protect against cancer, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and cognitive decline.
- "Critical Review of Clinical Laboratory Science"; Vitamin E In Human Health And Disease; 2008
- National Institutes Of Health Office Of Dietary Supplements; "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin E"
- "Hemp Line Journal"; Hemp Seed: The Most Nutritionally Complete Food Source In The World; Lynn Osburn; Jul-Aug 1992
- Colorado State University; "The Composition of Hemp Seed Oil and Its Potential as an Important Source of Nutrition"; Cary Leizer