Why Coconut Oil Is Good for Children

coconut and oil
Coconut oil next to a split open coconut. (Image: Neosiam/iStock/Getty Images)

Coconut oil is a type of fat. It is available in health food stores for alternative medicine. Coconut oil is also prevalent in commercially baked foods. There is debate as to whether this type of fat is healthy for children. Kids Health explains that fats are important for child development and that coconut oil should be consumed in moderation.

Role of Fat

Moderate amounts of fat are important for your child’s growth and development. According to Kids Health, fats like coconut oil help children create hormones and help absorb vitamins from foods. In addition, eating moderate amounts of fat in the diet helps keep you full, reducing the chances of over-eating.

Considerations

Fats are can either promote heart health or lead to heart disease. Coconut oil is a type of saturated fat. Kids Health points out that saturated fats can increase cholesterol levels over time. Coconut oil is also prevalent in packaged foods such as cookies and cakes. While coconut oil may be used in cooking, you should use it in moderation. Opt for other oils such as canola and olive oils.

Other Uses

Coconut oil is also used in some topical preparations for massage and skin ailments. There is no scientific evidence to support coconut oil as a means of skin health promotion. However, a study conducted by the India Institute of Medical Sciences showed that coconut oil applied topically to premature infants may help reduce water loss and promote a healthy weight. Still, more evidence is needed to prove that coconut oil is beneficial for infants. Coconut oil in the form of milk is also used as an alternative form of thyroid treatment.

Recommendations

Kids Health recommends that children over the age of 2 eat a diet that is 30 percent from healthy fats. This percentage refers to calories derived from fat. If your child wants coconut oil, give him coconut milk or unprocessed coconut meat. Healthychild.com recommends cooking with organic coconut oil as a treat. Coconut oil itself is an unrefined food. Use caution when purchasing processed foods that contain coconut oil, as they may do your child more harm, due to other unhealthy ingredients.

Precautions

A coconut diet is not a mainstream form of thyroid treatment. If your child has a low-functioning thyroid, or hypothyroidism, see your pediatrician for a proper diagnosis. Blood tests determine how much thyroid hormone your child may lack and the correct dosage of prescription hormone replacements your child needs. Ask your doctor before using coconut oil for alternative treatments for the skin or diseases. Coconut oil may worsen the condition or even cause allergic reactions in some children.

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