Vegetable with vitamin a

Contents

PMC

Sources of vitamin A

There are two main sources of vitamin A: animal sources and plant sources. All the sources of vitamin A need some fat in the diet to aid absorption.

In animal sources, vitamin A is found as retinol, the ‘active’ form of vitamin A. Liver, including fish liver, is a very good source. Other animal sources are egg yolk (not the white) and dairy products such as milk (including human breast milk), cheese and butter. Meat, from the animal’s muscles, is not a good source.

Plant sources contain vitamin A in the form of carotenoids which have to be converted during digestion into retinol before the body can use it. Carotenoids are the pigments that give plants their green colour and some fruits and vegetables their red or orange colour.

Plant sources of vitamin A include: mangos, papaya, many of the squashes, carrots, sweet potatoes and maize (but not the white varieties). Other good sources of vitamin A are red palm oil and biruti palm oil. (Note: if these oils are boiled to remove their colour the vitamin A is destroyed.)

Some fruits and vegetables are easier to digest than others, and it has been shown that dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach or amaranth are harder to digest. Mashing these vegetables up after cooking makes them easier to digest. When mashed they can be added to staples, which also makes them easier to disguise – children the world over do not like green vegetables!

It is important that all sources of vitamin A are not overcooked, as this can reduce the vitamin A content. Ultraviolet light can also reduce the vitamin A content of food, so drying of fruits such as mangos should not be done in direct sunlight (see page 73).

Diets that rely heavily on local carbohydrates, such as rice, fufu, ugali, cassava, millet and sorghum, are very low in vitamin A, unless vitamin A-rich foods are added.

Vitamin A plays a critical role in maintaining healthy eyes and vision, neurological function, healthy skin and hormonal/reproductive health, and its supports the lungs, liver, kidneys and digestive organs. What are good sources of vitamin A? Some to vitamin A foods include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, berries, eggs, butter, and organ meats like beef or chicken liver.

Many people don’t realize that vitamin A from plants (provitamin A) is not the same thing as active/preformed vitamin A (retinol). In the body, active vitamin A is present as retinol, which is bound to a fatty acid. Beta-carotene, the type found primarily in plants, needs to first be converted to active vitamin A in order to be utilized by the body. This takes place in the intestinal mucosa and the liver.

Many times the full amount of vitamin A found in a plant food is not converted to active vitamin A, especially if someone has poor gut health that makes conversion difficult. This is one reason why I recommend consuming a varied diet that includes some animal sources of active vitamin A, since these are easier for the body to use. It’s also an example of why it’s so important to heal gut issues like leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome — since these types of digestive issues may block your body’s ability to make good use of healthy vitamin A-rich foods.

What Is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that has immune-enhancing, antioxidant properties, meaning it helps reduce free radical damage (or oxidative stress). What does it mean to be a fat-soluble vitamin? Vitamin A and other fat-soluble vitamins have the ability to travel through fat and be stored inside body fat or organs, including the liver. (1) They can also penetrate through cells, unlike water-soluble vitamins.

Vitamin A can take one of three forms in the human body: retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. How do you get vitamin A from your diet? From eating both plant and animal-derived whole foods, which provide two different forms of vitamin A. (2) The two primary forms of vitamin A obtained from foods are beta-carotene (found in certain plant foods, especially those that are orange, red and yellow) and active Vitamin A, also called retinol (found in certain animal foods like eggs and organ meats).

How much vitamin A do you need each day?

  • The amount of vitamin A you need depends on your age, current health and reproductive status (for example, if you’re a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding).
  • The recommended daily allowance for vitamin A is 900 micrograms a day day for adult men and 700 micrograms a day for adult women. Adults need between 700–900 micrograms of “retinol activity equivalents” (RAE) per day. Sometimes you will see vitamin A content listed as international units (IU), not micrograms RAE. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Converting between IU and mcg RAE is not easy. A varied diet with 900 mcg RAE of vitamin A, for example, provides between 3,000 and 36,000 IU of vitamin A depending on the foods consumed.” (3)
  • Recommended intake of vitamin A for women who are pregnant or nursing ranges between 1,200 and 1,300 micrograms per day, since developing fetuses need vitamin A for proper growth.
  • Not only do people get vitamin A from foods in their diets, but many also get some provitamin A from dietary supplements, usually in the form beta-carotene, which must be converted once consumed.

Vitamin A Deficiency

What is a deficiency of vitamin A? Xerophthalmia is the term for the expression of vitamin A deficiency. This happens when you don’t consume or enough vitamin A from your diet or properly absorb or convert the vitamin A that you do consume. People at an increased risk for vitamin A deficiency include alcoholics, whose excess toxicity creates low vitamin A levels, people eating a very low-fat diet, and those who have problems with malabsorption due to intestinal dysfunction or damage. Some health conditions can cause long-term malabsorption of fats, which can lead to vitamin A deficiency since vitamin A needs to be consumed with fat to be properly absorbed.

Health problems that may cause malabsorption of vitamin A include: (4)

  • Alcoholism
  • Gluten sensitive
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS, Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis)
  • Pancreatic disorders or a lack of bile from the gallbladder (bile helps break down fat and absorb fat-soluble vitamins)
  • Liver damage or disease
  • Low stomach acid, heartburn or GERD
  • Severe calorie restriction, potentially tied to an eating disorder

What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin A deficiency? A vitamin A deficiency can contribute to symptoms and conditions including:

  • Night blindness or potentially blindness if left untreated — changes in vision are some of the first symptoms to occur due to vitamin A deficiency
  • Thickening of the cornea
  • Dry eyes, dry hair and dry mouth
  • Higher chance of developing sinus, respiratory, lung or ear infections
  • Various skin problems, such as cystic acne, skin flaking, or formation of dots, dry scalp/dandruff
  • Higher chance of having fertility problems or complications during pregnancy
  • Disturbances in fetal growth and poor development in infants and children

Top 10 Vitamin A Foods

What foods are rich in vitamin A? When it comes to plant foods with vitamin A, a good rule of thumb is that fruits and veggies that are orange, yellow or red have a high likelihood of providing vitamin A. (5) In terms of animal foods rich in vitamin A, those that naturally have a higher fat content (such as eggs, butter, liver or full-fat dairy) are more likely to provide vitamin A since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin.

Below is a vitamin A foods list that includes the best dietary sources:

  1. Winter/butternut squash — 1 cup, cooked cubes: 22,869 international units (457 percent DV)
  2. Sweet potato — 1 medium, cooked potato: 21,907 international units (438 percent DV)
  3. Kale — 1 cup, chopped: 10,302 international units (206 percent DV)
  4. Carrots — 1 medium raw carrot: 10,190 international units (204 percent DV)
  5. Beef Liver — 1 ounce: 8,881 international units (178 percent DV)
  6. Spinach — 1 cup raw: 2,813 international units (56 percent DV)
  7. Dried apricots — 1 ounce: 1,009 international units (20 percent DV)
  8. Broccoli — 1 cup raw: 567 international units (11 percent DV)
  9. Butter — 1 tablespoon: 350 international units (7 percent DV)
  10. Egg yolks — 1 large egg: 245 international units (5 percent DV)

Other healthy vitamin A foods include cod liver oil, red bell peppers, raw whole milk (full-fat) and cheeses, mangos, tomatoes, cantaloupe, green peas, papaya, peaches, oatmeal, and spices/herbs like basil and paprika.

Related: The Antioxidant Power of Swiss Chard Nutrition

Benefits of Foods with Vitamin A

The various forms of vitamin A found in the body have different roles and benefits. Some functions of vitamin A include playing a role in maintaining strong bones, gene regulation, clear skin, fetal development, cell differentiation and immune function. Below is more about some of the key benefits of vitamin A.

1. Vision Support

Retinal is the form of vitamin A needed for vision. When light shines on the retina, in the human eye, a molecule called rhodopsin is activated. The activated rhodopsin sends a signal to the brain that results in vision.

Can you go blind from vitamin A deficiency? Vitamin A is a critical part of making the rhodopsin molecule. This is why a deficiency in vitamin A can cause night blindness and contribute to full blindness in some people — and why vitamin A is one of the most important eye vitamins. Vitamin A deficiency has been shown to play a role in xerosis of the cornea, corneal ulceration and “keratomalacia” (a full-thickness melting of the cornea that progresses rapidly to loss of the eye). Because it’s converted to retinal once consumed, a diet high in beta-carotene and other antioxidants found in plants has been shown to play a role in preventing macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness. (6)

2. Immune Support

Vitamin A is known as an immune-boosting vitamin because several immune system functions are dependent on sufficient vitamin A intake and antioxidant activity. Certain genes involved in immune responses are regulated by vitamin A. Deficiency in this vitamin can lead to increased infections and an overall weakened immune system. Vitamin A is also required for the development of T both-helper (Th) cells and B-cells. Beta-carotene supports immunity by acting as a powerful antioxidant and helpin prevent a variety of chronic illnesses.

Researchers from the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center and Nutrition Department explain that “vitamin A deficiency impairs innate immunity by impeding normal regeneration of mucosal barriers damaged by infection, and by diminishing the function of neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer cells.” (7) Some research suggests that in populations deficient in vitamin A, acquiring more appears to be effective in reducing cancer incidence. (8)

3. Skin Health and Cell Growth

What is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency? Poor skin health, including dryness, breakouts, infections and irritation. Vitamin A is needed to support all of the epithelial (skin) cells both internally and externally. It is needed to form glycoproteins, a combination of sugar and protein, which help the cells bind together forming soft tissues. Due to this function, vitamin A is necessary for wound healing and skin regrowth.

Because vitamin A is essential for skin health, deficiency can lead to a poor complexion even in younger people. Studies have proven that consuming vitamin A-rich foods can fight acne and improve overall skin health. Some of the best vitamin A foods for skin include berries, leafy greens, carrots and eggs, which also supply other important nutrients that protect the skin.

4. Reproductive Health

While there’s some evidence that very high intake of supplemental vitamin A (leading to vitamin A toxicity) can lead to complications during pregnancy, vitamin A foods are definitely supportive of a healthy pregnancy and proper fetal development. It has been estimated that about 19 million pregnant women in low-income countries each year are affected by vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to many adverse health outcomes for both the mother and baby. (9) Among babies and children, vitamin A deficiency can also increase risk of mortality from infectious diseases due to low immune function, particularly measles, diarrhea, respiratory infections and malaria (especially in low-income countries).

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, traditional cultures emphasized that pregnant women should consume many vitamin A foods during pregnancy and while nursing, especially those with active vitamin A, such as liver, whole milk, eggs and butter.

Regarding the low consumption of vitamin A-rich foods in many developed nations, the Weston A. Price Foundation website explains: “Worryingly, younger women are at particular risk. The older generation tended to eat more eggs, milk and liver, which are naturally rich in vitamin A, whereas the health-conscious youngsters on low-fat diets are relying heavily on the beta-carotene form of the nutrient.” (10)

While getting active A is recommended during a woman’s reproductive years, foods with provitamin A/carotenoids can still be very healthy for pregnant or nursing women, especially green leafy vegetables and yellow/orange fruits, such as mangos and papaya.

Related: Top 10 Benefits of Romaine Lettuce Nutrition (+ Recipes)

How to Get More Vitamin A in Your Diet

As long as you eat a variety of whole foods and avoid or limit processed foods, it’s easy to include more foods with vitamin A in your diet. Here are tips are incorporating vitamin A foods into a variety of meals:

  • Top a salad of leafy greens with berries or dried apricots.
  • Add beef or chicken liver to chopped meat, or make/buy chicken pate.
  • Lightly sauté vegetables like broccoli, kale or spinach in grass-fed butter.
  • Have one to two pastured eggs with veggies and roasted sweet potatoes for breakfast.
  • Roast winter squash, butternut squash or sweet potatoes tossed in butter in the oven.

Vitamin A Foods Recipes

Below are ideas for using foods rich in vitamin A to create simple, delicious and healthy recipes:

  • Chicken Liver Pate Recipe
  • 28 Delicious Egg Recipes
  • 25 Kale Recipes
  • 37 Secretly Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes
  • Maple Rosemary Carrots Recipe
  • Grecian Spinach Recipe

Related: Mustard Greens Nutrition, Health Benefits & Recipes

History

The “discovery” of vitamin A in certain foods, and its many roles in the body, took place over the course of about 130 years starting in the early 1800s. Researchers that conducted nutritional deprivation experiments on animals found that diets low in certain nutrients led to health problems, including corneal ulcers, poor growth and higher rates of mortality. (11)

In the 1880s, it was discovered that an unknown substance present in egg yolks and full-fat milk must be essential for nutrition, growth and development. It became clear that this nutrient was fat-soluble and found in certain foods like butter and egg yolk but not in lard and olive oil. Soon after scientists named this nutrient “fat soluble vitamin A.” Later research focused on the impact that vitamin A deficiency had among the poor living in low- and middle-income countries, especially pregnant women, nursing women and infants. (12)

Vitamin A-rich foods have been important sources of nutrients in traditional diets for hundreds or even thousands of years, especially foods that provide a good source of fat and calories — like eggs, butter, liver, raw milk and fermented cheeses. In ancient Egypt and India, physicians treated symptoms like night blindness by squeezing the “juices” of lamb’s and goat’s liver into the eyes of afflicted patients. Liver was also fed to children to help protect their vision and lower susceptibility to infectious diseases.

Vitamin A deficiency (xerophthalmia) has historically affected neglected children receiving poor diets, orphans, peasants and slaves who suffer from malnutrition. In the 20th century, as researchers concluded that vitamin A supports the immune system in many ways, dairy products and cod liver oil were recommended to prevent many health conditions. Throughout the 20th century children were fed generous portions of butterfat, whole milk, eggs and other vitamin A foods. Prevalence of vitamin A deficiency dropped dramatically during this time, although it’s still a concern in developing countries.

Precautions

Should you be concerned about vitamin A toxicity if you eat lots of foods rich in vitamin A? It’s very unlikely that you’d experience toxicity simply from eating vitamin A foods, although it is possible to obtain too much vitamin A from supplements. Studies have found that taking high levels of supplemental vitamin A (usually in beta-carotene form) does not necessarily provide benefits, including for preventing cancer, so this should be avoided. (13)

Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity can include dry skin, joint pain, vomiting, headaches and confusion. Vitamin A supplements may interact with some birth control pills, blood thinners (like Coumadin), acne medicines (like Accutane), cancer treatments and many other drugs. Because vitamin A can be stored in your liver and fat, it can be hard for your body to get rid of excess vitamin A that it doesn’t need, causing it to accumulate. The healthier way to obtain this vitamin is from natural vitamin A foods.

Although recent studies suggest that expectant mothers can benefit from consuming vitamin A, which dramatically reduced the mother and infant mortality rates in the research, too much can be toxic to developing fetuses. Pregnant women should not take very high doses of vitamin A and should talk to their doctors if they have concerns about supplements they are taking.

Final Thoughts on Vitamin A Foods

  • Vitamin A is found in both plant and animal-derived whole foods. The two primary forms of vitamin A obtained from foods are beta-carotene (found in orange, red and yellow colored) and active vitamin A, also called retinol.
  • Some of the top vitamin A foods include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, berries, apricots, papaya, cantaloupe, mangoes, eggs, butter, raw milk and cheeses, cod liver oil and organ meats like liver.
  • Benefits of foods high in vitamin A include maintaining healthy vision, supporting neurological health, protecting skin, helping with fetal growth and development, and supporting reproductive health.

Read Next: Top 15 Thiamine Foods + 6 Benefits & Recipes

Top 25 Vitamin A Rich Foods Jayshree Bhagat Hyderabd040-395603080 August 17, 2019

We need a healthy body, mind, and soul for good health. Hence, it is required to develop and adopt a disciplined lifestyle. You can achieve this by doing exercises, taking care of skin and hair and proper diet.

Eye care is the most important habit that can be easily achieved by removing contact lenses before sleeping, not watching TV screen closely, wearing glasses when using the computer, taking proper diet by including Vitamin A rich foods.

Vitamin A should be included in your daily diet to stay fit and healthy. This promotes healthy functioning, development of the eyes, teeth, skin, soft tissues, mucus membranes, skeleton, and immune system. Vitamin A is essential for proper growth, to fight against many diseases and maintain the reproductive system.

Vitamin A can be found in various fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy products. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes from the unsaturated hydrocarbons such as retinal, retinol, and beta-carotene. Carotenoids have alpha, beta and gamma carotene that further convert into Vitamin A. Carotenoids are dark-colored pigments that are found in plant foods and get converted into Vitamin A as beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant, which is useful to protect your cells from damage due to free radicals. Free radicals cause numerous chronic diseases and are one of the most important reasons for aging. Beta-carotene supplements are also helpful to reduce the risk of cancer.

There are two types of Vitamin A that are obtained from the diet. Preformed Vitamin A can be obtained from animal products like cheese, fish, poultry meat, and dairy foods. While, pro-vitamin A is obtained from plant-based foods like fruits or vegetables. Beta-carotene is the most common type of pro-vitamin A that can also be obtained from dietary supplements. It is advised to maintain the required level of Vitamin A to cure numerous health conditions.

Table Of Contents

Recommended Dietary Intake Of Vitamin A

Age Male Female Pregnancy Location
0–6 months* 400 mcg RAE 400 mcg RAE
7–12 months* 500 mcg RAE 500 mcg RAE
1–3 years 300 mcg RAE 300 mcg RAE
4–8 years 400 mcg RAE 400 mcg RAE
9–13 years 600 mcg RAE 600 mcg RAE
14–18 years 900 mcg RAE 700 mcg RAE 750 mcg RAE 1,200 mcg RAE
19–50 years 900 mcg RAE 700 mcg RAE 770 mcg RAE 1,300 mcg RAE
51+ years 900 mcg RAE 700 mcg RAE

* Adequate Intake (AI), equivalent to the mean intake of vitamin A in healthy, breastfed infants.

Top 25 Vitamin A Rich Foods List

1. Turkey Liver

Most animals’ livers are filled with vitamins and minerals. They can be prepared by steaming or frying with onions and different nutritious herbs. Which is what makes this source a rather delicious food rich in vitamin A.

Make them your delicious turkey dinner. You can also add turkey liver to the gravy or stuff them to gain many vitamins and minerals. 100-gram turkey liver will provide you 1507% of the Vitamin A needed every day. 100 grams Turkey Liver contain 273 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
TURKEY LIVER 72372 IU 228 g

2. Beef Liver

When we speak of foods rich in vitamin A, how can we leave behind the beef liver? The liver is the richest source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. They have been used for many centuries to cure anemia. A 100-gram beef liver will provide you 300% of your needed Vitamin A for a day. 100 grams of Beef Liver contains 135 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
BEEF LIVER 31718 IU 191 g

3. Butternut Squash

The butternut squash is yellow-orange in color and is a rich source of beta- carotene. This gets converted into Vitamin A in your body. This dark orange squash tastes delicious and has nutty and sweet flavor. One cup butternut squash will give you 400% of the daily needed Vitamin A. It also contains Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber that is good for health.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
BUTTERNUT SQUASH 11155 IU 40 g

4. Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are widely consumed in Northern India. We know these spicy and crunchy flavored green leaves by the name of ‘sarsoo ka saag’. In some parts, this is also referred as leaf mustard. It contains the maximum nutrition compared to any other green leafy vegetables. You can consume them raw or cooked, as it has excellent flavor and nutrition. This gives 118% of the daily needed Vitamin A. They are also the richest source of manganese, calcium, carotenes, folate, fiber, protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, vitamin K, and many antioxidants.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
MUSTARD GREENS 6234 IU 15 g

5. Whole Milk

Whole milk is even tastier than skimmed milk, as it is rich and creamy. Whole milk has more nutritional value than skimmed milk. One cup of whole milk contains a good amount of calcium, protein, Vitamins D, A, and magnesium. It also contains fat that can be consumed in moderate quantity.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
WHOLE MILK 676 IU 300 g

6. Dried Basil

Vitamin A is filled with antioxidants which are essential for vision. This is useful for proper maintenance of healthy mucus membranes and skin. Dried basil is rich in Vitamin A, which will prevent your body against lung and oral cavity cancers. This dried basil has a very versatile taste and flavor that can be added to most of the dishes you prepare. Add them to any foods to get Vitamin A and for taste enhancement. 100-gram dried basil will give you 15% of the daily needed amount of Vitamin A.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
DRIED BASIL 9376 IU 251 g

7. Iceberg Lettuce

Dark green leafy vegetables are the healthiest foods. Light green Iceberg lettuce is also the richest source of Vitamin A. They can be added to your salads and sandwiches to get your everyday requirement of Vitamin A. One cup Iceberg lettuce will give you10 calories, and various other essential vitamins and minerals required.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
ICEBERG LETTUCE 502 IU 14 g

8. Peas

Add these sweet green peas to your side dish of any dish as a healthy dietary supplement. One ½ cup pea can give 134% of the required value of Vitamin A, and 62 calories. They also contain a good amount of Vitamins K, C, and B.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
PEAS 801 IU 84 g

9. Tomatoes

Some botanical studies have proven that tomatoes are fruits. Add them to your daily diet, as they contain low calories and many essential vitamins and minerals. One tomato can give 20% of the Vitamin A needed for a day. They are also a rich source of vitamin C and lycopene.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
TOMATOES 833 IU 18 g

10. Spinach

Add spinach to your daily diet for a healthy life. One-cup spinach can provide 49% of the daily needed value of Vitamin A. Spinach is also the richest source of Vitamin C, manganese, iron, Vitamin K, and calcium.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
SPINACH 9376 IU 23 g

11. Kale

Kale is used popularly for common garnish. They taste delicious and have many nutrients. Add them to your daily diet for good health and Vitamin A. One cup kale can give you 200% of the needed vitamin A.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
KALE 15376 IU 50 g

12. Carrots

Carrots often come to the mind when you think of Vitamin A and eye health. They are thought to be the best remedy to improve eye vision with many other health benefits. One carrot will give you 200% of daily advised vitamin A. Carrots also contain vitamins B, C, K, magnesium, and fiber in large quantity.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
CARROTS 16705 IU 41 g

13. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are delicious in taste and have high nutritive value. One sweet potato will give 438% of the daily needed Vitamin A and 103 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
SWEET POTATOES 19217 IU 90 g

14. Mangoes

Mangoes are the most loved fruits in any part of the world. They have sweet, juicy, tangy taste. This can be added to the main dish or in desserts. It is filled with nutrients and vitamins that promote a healthy diet. One cup mango can give 36% of the daily needed amount of Vitamin A and 107 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
MANGOES 765 IU 65 g

15. Peaches

Peach has a very delicious flavor and has excellent nutritional value. Peaches contain a good amount of magnesium, Vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. One peach can provide 10% of the daily needed Vitamin A and 59 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
PEACHES 326 IU 39 g

16. Papaya

Papaya is a tropical fruit that is filled with minerals, enzymes, vitamins, and antioxidants. One papaya can give 29% of the daily needed vitamin A. The papaya can be consumed in many ways such as raw, added to salads or in smoothies.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
PAPAYA 1094 IU 39 g

17. Red Bell Pepper

Bell peppers make a delicious vegetable that is consumed raw or cooked. Raw bell peppers are crispy in texture and can be used in salads and dips. Cooked bell peppers have smoky, sweet taste that is used to enhance the taste of other dishes. Red Bell peppers have a mildly sweet taste that is used to prepare pimentos and paprika. Red peppers can also be added to veggie dip, scrambled eggs, and pasta dishes. This contains many health benefits, as they are a rich source of antioxidants such as Vitamin A, lycopene, Vitamin C.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
RED BELL PEPPERS 3131 IU 31 g

18. Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil supplements are the richest source of vitamins and minerals. Cod liver oil is available in liquid and capsule form, which has the extraordinary amount of Vitamin A, D, and omega 3 fatty acids. One tablespoon of cod liver oil can give you required Vitamin A value for the day and 126 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
COD LIVER OIL 100014 IU 902 g

19. Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice has good nutrients like potassium, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, phosphorus, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, and phytonutrients. These essential nutrients support the immune system of your body to fight against illnesses and healthy and strong life.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
GRAPEFRUIT JUICE 440 IU 39 g

20. Fortified Oatmeal

Oatmeal is consumed as a staple breakfast in countries. It is filled with nutrients and is the richest source of dietary fiber. They contain a fair amount of phosphorus, potassium, minerals, and iron. Oatmeal can give you 29% of the daily needed vitamin A and 159 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
FORTIFIED OATMEAL 621 IU 68 g

21. Paprika

Paprika is the most popular spice used in South American, Sri Lankan, Indian, and Spanish cuisine. They have a fiery, pungent taste that can be added to your any favorite dish for health benefits and as a taste enhancer. One tablespoon will give 69% of the daily needed Vitamin A. this also has potassium, calcium, and Vitamin C.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
PAPRIKA 52742 IU 289 g

22. Cantaloupe

They contain juicy flesh with a sweet smell and are bright yellow-orange in color. They can cure and prevent your body from various diseases. Cantaloupes are low in calories and fat. They have numerous essential vitamins and nutrients that promote good health. They have yummy flavor and can be used in fruit salad, snack, or dessert. One wedge of Cantaloupe will give you120% of the needed Vitamin A for the day and 23 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
CANTALOUPE 3382 IU 34 g

23. Turnip Greens

Add leafy greens to your everyday diet for good health. Turnip Greens are very low in calories, high in nutrients, and are easy to cook. Turnip Greens require cooking or steaming for consumption. This gives a boost to their nutritive value to get absorbed in your body.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
TURNIP GREENS 8611 IU 35 g

24. Dried Apricots

Dried apricots are a delicious snack, and they contain many nutrients, antioxidants, and energy. Dried apricots are also the richest source of Vitamin A. One cup of dried apricot can give you 94% of the needed Vitamin A and 313 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
DRIED APRICOTS 1275 IU 85 g

25. Dried Marjoram

Dried Marjoram is added for their unique flavors and many health benefits. Dried marjoram is the rich source of vitamin A. 100-gram can give you 161% of the needed Vitamin A for the day. You can also add them to many dishes to get 271 calories.

Food Source Vitamin A in IU(International Units) Calories 100 g
DRIED MARJORAM 8067 IU 271 g

A. Skin Benefits Of Vitamin A

1. Acne

Most of us suffer from this common skin trouble – Acne.

Include fresh carrots, apricots, and apples in your diet to get rid of acne. Vitamin A helps in reducing acne issues, especially amongst people suffering from moderate to severe acne problems, as it cuts down excess sebum production in the skin. The use of Vitamin A for acne is quite effective.

2. Wrinkles

Vitamin A contains huge quantities of beta-carotene and retinol, a powerful antioxidant, which is known to fight the free radicals in your skin. Thus regular intake of vitamin A reduces the appearance of fine lines, dark spots and pigmentation.

3. Skin Disorders

Studies have shown that vitamin A helps in healing severe acne, warts, sun damage and rosacea. You can either take it orally or in the form of topical preparation to reap maximum benefits.

4. Reduce Stretch Marks

Vitamin A help in the regeneration of the new skin cells by replacing the dead cells. The new cells lead to the formation of healthy and smooth skin, which would eventually reduce stretch marks.

a. Papaya Face Pack

  • Mix papaya pulp with lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey. Apply this on your face and let it remain for 15 minutes before rinsing off. This is an instant skin brightening pack.
  • You can also mix papaya pulp with boiled green tea to make a smooth paste. Apply this and keep for 15 minutes before rinsing off. This is an anti ageing face pack and should be applied twice a week for best results.

b. Carrot Face Pack

  • Make a paste of boiled carrots and potato. To this, add a pinch of turmeric powder and honey. Mix well to form a smooth paste and apply on your face. Keep it on for 10 minutes and rinse off with cool water.
  • You can also prepare a mixed vegetable face pack by making a paste of different boiled vegetables like carrots, potato, cabbage etc. Mix well to form a smooth paste. Apply and keep for 20 minutes. Wash off with cool water.

c. Sweet Potato Juice

Grate sweet potato and extract its juice. Apply this juice all over your face and keep for some time until it dries. Wash off with warm water. The juice of the sweet potato helps reduce wrinkles and brightens the skin.

d. Pumpkin Face Pack

If you are suffering from acne, try this face pack.

Boil and puree the pumpkin to prepare the pulp. Take a teaspoon of this puree and into it add 1 egg white. Mix well to form a smooth paste. Apply and keep for 20 minutes. When the pack dries off completely, rinse with warm water. Use this face pack at least twice a week for effective results.

e. Mango Face Pack

In the pulp of 1 ripe mango, add 2 teaspoons of gram flour (besan). Then add 1 teaspoon of honey and mix well to form a smooth paste. Apply all over the face and keep for 15 minutes before rinsing off with cool water. This face pack is a very hydrating one during summers and also helps to remove unwanted tanning.

B. Hair Benefits Of Vitamin A

5. Healthy Scalp

Vitamin A helps to produce the right amount of sebum in the scalp, which prevents the scalp and the hair from drying. The antioxidants in vitamin A regulate the oil secretion and thus lead to a healthy scalp.

6. Prevents Damage

Due to its high concentration of antioxidants, vitamin A prevents the formation of free radicals, thus protecting the hair from radical damage. It helps in restoring the natural shine to the hair.

7. Reduces Dryness

Vitamin A repairs dry and damaged hair due to its reconstructive and regenerative properties.It makes the hair soft and smooth. Our conditioners contain vitamin A and E derivatives in them.

8. Reduces Dandruff

Vitamin A helps to regulate the sebum production in the scalp. It, thereby, reduces the formation of the dandruff flakes. Regular intake of green leafy vegetables, liver, cheese can reduce dry dandruff.

C. Health Benefits Of Vitamin A

9. Fights Infection

It helps in the growth of white blood cells or lymphocytes which help fight infections in our body.

10. Healthy Eyesight

Vitamin A is important for healthy eyesight. Our body converts it into retinaldehyde, which is vital for eyes. Night blindness, caused by the deficiency of vitamin A can be cured if we take vitamin A supplements.

11. Ocular Diseases

It helps fight off ocular diseases like cataract, glaucoma and other age-related eye diseases.

12. Healthy Bones

For healthy bones, include vitamin A in your daily diet as our body converts it into retinoic acid that is absorbed by our bones.

13. Strong Teeth

Our teeth are composed of a hard substance called the dentin which requires vitamin A for its natural strength and hardness.

14. Regeneration

Vitamin A helps in the growth of new cells and tissues by replacing the old ones.

15. Urinary Stones

Some suffer from the problem of kidney or gallbladder stones. These small stones are composed of calculi which cause pain, nausea, and vomiting. Vitamin A produces calcium phosphate which helps in the prevention of these stones.

16. Immune System

It keeps our immune system strong and healthy. Vitamin A keeps skin and mucous membrane cells healthy. It is important for the development and maintenance of the epithelial cells in the inner linings of the organs.

17. Tumour Cells

It has been studied that vitamin A acts as an inhibitor for the production of tumor cells in the body.

18. Prevent Cancer

The most important benefit of vitamin A is that it helps to keep cancer at bay. Regular intake of vitamin A in your diet inhibits the production of DNA in the cancerous cells.

19. Endocrine System

It plays an important role in proper functioning of the kidney, liver, and the endocrine system.

20. Healing Properties

Vitamin A has been proved to show great improvement in the healing of wounds, scars, burns, etc. as it helps in the regeneration of new and healthy cells. Most of the ointments are rich in vitamin A.

21. Storage

It helps in the storage and conversion of fats and synthesis of protein and glycogen in our body.

Tips For Consuming Vitamin A

  1. Avoid consuming them in large or low quantity. This can have adverse health effects.
  1. Excessive intake of Vitamin A leads to central nervous system disorders, lower bone mineral density, birth defects, liver abnormalities, osteoporosis, etc
  1. Vitamin A can cause maternal mortality, reduce ability to fight infections, night blindness, xerophthalmia, keratomalacia, measles, respiratory and diarrheal infections, decreased growth rate, slow bone development, etc
  1. Vitamin A supplements should be consumed only after taking proper consultation from your doctor.
  1. Most foods in our daily diet contain some amount of Vitamin A.
  1. Many multivitamins supplements can also fulfill the requirement of Vitamin A value.

This is our comprehensive list of Vitamin A rich foods. Hope it helps you come up with a healthy yet delicious diet! Do leave us a comment.

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Jayshree Bhagat

Love you stylecraze for this platform. Hy there, I am Jayshree from Mumbai, director of Milestone plm solutions pvt ltd-vasai. I basically love to read and write about make-up, beauty & fashion in ma spare time. That’s my hobby you can call. Hope you love my blog and articles. Do leave your valuable feedback! Stay Beautiful!!

25 Vitamin A Foods That Will Boost Your Health

Just like all the other vitamins, vitamin A plays a crucial role in the normal growth and development of the body. There are a number of vitamin A foods, so a balanced diet can provide us with a sufficient amount of this vitamin. However, some people have to take supplements for various medical reasons. On the other hand, it’s not recommended to take too much vitamin A as this can lead to some serious medical conditions. We at MedAlertHelp.org have prepared an infographic which provides you with a quick overview of all the vitamins, but now let’s focus on vitamin A.

What Is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is an umbrella term for a group of oil-soluble compounds essential for the proper functioning of your eyes, skin, reproductive system, and many other processes in your body. It comes in two different forms: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A. Preformed vitamin A includes retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid, which are found in animal products.

The body doesn’t have to convert this type of vitamin A before it uses it and that’s why it’s also called the active form of vitamin A. Provitamin A, on the other hand, has to be converted to active vitamin A once it is found in the body. It includes certain carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables, among which beta-carotene is the most important one.

What Is Vitamin A Good For?

It’s very important for your health to consume enough foods rich in vitamin A as it affects a number of organ systems of your body. First, it is vital for your eye health. It can prevent night blindness since it has a major role in converting light into electrical signals. People with this eyesight problem have difficulty in adjusting to dim light, while their vision is not impaired when there is enough light. Also, beta-carotene lowers the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

Another vitamin A function is to maintain a healthy immune system. Since it stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders, it can help your body resist infections. In line with this, recent studies have shown that vitamin A can reduce the risk of dying from measles.

Although skin problems, such as acne and wrinkles, are not that serious, they make us feel less confident and even anxious and depressed. Fortunately, your skin can also benefit from this vitamin. Beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant which can protect your skin from UV damage and slow down the signs of aging. In addition to eating foods containing this compound, you can use creams with retinol or retinoic acid.

So, what does topical vitamin A do for your skin? It can fill in your fine lines and smoothen your skin as it is proven that it stimulates collagen production. Vitamin A is also used for the treatment of severe acne although it is still unclear how it lowers the risk of developing this skin condition.

According to a number of studies conducted on rats, vitamin A is vital for the reproductive system of both men and women, as well as for the normal development of embryos. Other vitamin A benefits include maintaining healthy bones and lowering the risk of certain types of cancer. According to some studies, one derivative of vitamin A, retinoic acid, regulates the level of blood sugar in mice.

Foods High in Vitamin A

As we already mentioned, there are two types of vitamin A and they can be found in different types of food. Animal products contain preformed vitamin A or retinol. On the other hand, provitamin A carotenoids, which are transformed into vitamin A through metabolic processes, are actually pigments that make fruits and vegetables orange. Considering all the health benefits of this vitamin, it’s of great importance to include the following foods in your diet.

Beef Liver

If you’ve been wondering what foods have vitamin A, you’re in the right place. Since retinol is stored in the liver, this is the number one food for your source of this healthy nutrient. Three ounces of this meat packs a whopping 444% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin A. Beef liver is also an excellent source of B vitamins, like riboflavin and biotin.

Lamb Liver

Lamb liver provides a similar amount of vitamin A. One serving (3 oz.) will give you 417% of your daily vitamin A needs.

Cod Liver Oil

Fish oils are foods that contain vitamin A in high concentration. One teaspoon of cod liver oil, for example, has 90% of your DV of vitamin A.

Herring

Fatty fish such as herring is a great source of vitamin A. Three ounces of this type of fish serve about 15% of your daily value of this important vitamin.

Salmon

Red salmon is another type of fish that belongs to foods with vitamin A. However, three ounces of this delicious fish will provide you with only 4% of your DV of retinol, which is about four times less than herring. Salmon is also a rich source of B vitamins, including thiamine, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.

Milk

Since milk is usually fortified with vitamin A, it’s a good source of this nutrient. A cup of skim milk will meet 10% of your daily vitamin A needs. Of course, milk and dairy products are also a valuable source of vitamin D.

Cheddar Cheese

Other dairy products such as cheese are also great vitamin A sources. A cup of shredded cheddar cheese delivers 22% of your daily value of vitamin A. If you prefer diced cheese, one cup will provide you with 26% of your DV of vitamin A, while a cup of melted cheddar will give you 48% of your daily needs of this vitamin.

Egg

One large hard-boiled egg will add up to 5% of your DV of vitamin A. Just remember that only egg yolk is rich in this essential nutrient.

If you don’t eat meat, there are a number of vitamin A rich foods vegetarian people can add to their daily menu. For example, sweet potatoes are an amazing option as in only one potato baked in skin, you’ll get 561% of your DV of vitamin A. In addition, they are rich in vitamins C and B6, potassium, fiber, and niacin.

Most orange vegetables are packed with beta-carotene and carrots are not an exemption. Half a cup of raw carrots offers 184% of your daily value of vitamin A.

Peppers

Not only are peppers loaded with vitamin C, but they are also vitamin A rich foods. If you eat just half a cup of raw red peppers, you will cover 47% of the recommended daily value of this vitamin.

Winter Squash

One cup of raw winter squash chopped into cubes has 31% of your DV of vitamin A. In addition, it is rich in vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, which means it offers numerous health benefits, like lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Pumpkins

Besides winter squash, vitamin A foods that are also high in fiber and potassium are pumpkins. They can be prepared in many delicious ways, and it’s good to know that a cup of pumpkin cubes will provide you with 197% of your daily value of vitamin A. If you decide to treat yourself to a piece of pumpkin pie, you will cover 249% of your daily needs of vitamin A.

Leafy green veggies are also a great source of vitamin A. In half a cup of boiled spinach, you get 229% of your DV of this vitamin.

Kale

Kale is another dark, green vegetable rich in vitamin A. A cup of this healthy veggie has 133% of your daily value of this important nutrient. Not to mention that it is loaded with vitamin K, calcium, and potassium, and that it also belongs to vitamin B rich foods.

Half a cup of boiled broccoli will provide you with 24% of your DV of vitamin A. Moreover, this veggie is rich in vitamins C and K, iron, and fiber.

Black-Eyed Peas

Legumes like beans and peas are also foods rich in vitamin A. For example, a cup of boiled black-eyed peas or cowpeas gives you 26% of the recommended daily value of this vitamin.

Beans

Beans are a great source of protein, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and potassium. In addition, a cup of baked beans has 5% of your daily value of vitamin A.

Tomatoes

This vitamin A foods list wouldn’t be complete without tomatoes. If you have a cup of tomato juice, you will meet more than 20% of your daily needs of vitamin A. Moreover, tomatoes are high in vitamin C as well as vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium.

Cantaloupe is packed with vitamins C and A. In only half a cup of raw cantaloupe, you will get 54% of your DV of vitamin A.

Mangoes belong to vitamin A rich fruits as one cup of this fruit serves 35% of your daily value of vitamin A. They are also high in vitamin C, so they can really boost your immune system.

Passion Fruit

Passion fruit is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A cup of this fruit provides 60% of your DV of vitamin A.

Apricots

Apricots are great vitamin A foods for skin health since they are packed with vitamins C and A. One cup of sliced apricots gives 63% of your DV of vitamin A. On the other hand, in a cup of dried apricots, you get amazing 93% of your daily value of this vitamin. However, they are also higher in sugar, so be careful with this snack.

Red Grapefruit

In addition to being rich in vitamin C, red grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin A. A cup of this fruit contains 52% of the recommended daily value of this powerful nutrient.

Tangerines

Tangerines are a valuable source of antioxidants, including vitamin A. Eat one small tangerine and you will cover 10% of your DV of this vitamin.

It’s very important to know what foods contain vitamin A as, this way, you can easily boost your diet with this crucial nutrient.

Daily Intake Recommendations

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) represents an average daily intake that is sufficient to healthy people to meet their nutrient requirements. RDAs for vitamin A are expressed in mcg of retinol activity equivalents (RAE) although international units (IU) are used on food and supplement labels. Since the conversion of mcg RAE into IU is rather complex as it depends on the sources of vitamin A, this practice is soon to be changed thanks to FDA’s new labeling regulations.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin A depends on your age and sex, as follows:

  • From birth to 6 months – 400 mcg RAE
  • From 7 to 12 months – 500 mcg RAE
  • From 1 to 3 years – 300 mcg RAE
  • From 4 to 8 years – 400 mcg RAE
  • From 9 to 13 years – 600 mcg RAE
  • 14+ years – 900 mcg RAE (male) and 700 mcg RAE (female)

RDAs for vitamin A are a bit different for pregnant women (770 mcg RAE) and women who are breastfeeding (1300 mcg RAE).

Signs & Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency

Although this deficiency is rare in developed countries, it is prevalent in developing countries where people usually don’t have enough foods rich in vitamin A. So what is the first sign of vitamin A deficiency? The most common symptom is night blindness, which is one of the first signs of xerophthalmia. This is an eye disease characterized by dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea. Deficiency of vitamin A can also cause preventable blindness in children. What’s more, it can lead to anemia since people deficient in vitamin A often have low iron levels. Another serious consequence is the increased mortality risk of infective diseases, such as diarrhea and measles.

Who Should Take Vitamin A Supplements?

Groups that are at higher risk of vitamin A deficiency include premature infants, infants, and children in developing countries, pregnant and breastfeeding women in developing countries, and people with cystic fibrosis. Also, certain medications, such as Orlistat, can affect the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and therefore increase the risk of vitamin deficiency.

Those who lack vitamin A can take vitamin A tablets, but they should always consult a physician first. You should be aware that there are a number of side effects of taking vitamin supplements. In addition, there’s a possibility that they will cover up other deficiencies, which can result in some serious health issues. That’s why it’s always best to rely on vitamin A foods in order to meet your daily requirements of this vitamin. While vitamin supplements can do good to certain groups of people, taking excessive amounts or taking them for too long can be harmful.

Can You Overdose on Vitamin A?

The body tends to store fat-soluble vitamins, meaning that excess consumption of vitamin A can be toxic. Preformed vitamin A is particularly dangerous as it can cause hypervitaminosis A. Overconsumption of vitamin A can lead to skin irritation, dizziness, nausea, headaches, joint pain, and even death.

So how much vitamin A is too much? The Food and Nutrition Board has prescribed Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for preformed vitamin, which vary according to age and sex. For adults, total vitamin A intake should be up to 3,000 µg per day from retinol. Pregnant women should be particularly careful as excess retinol can result in fetal deformities. They should also avoid using anti-aging creams containing this compound.

Moreover, people using certain drugs for acne treatment need to stay away from vitamin A supplements. Compared to preformed vitamin A, carotenoids are not that toxic, especially when consumed through food. However, beta-carotene supplements can cause some adverse effects. That’s why it’s of great importance to stick to a recommended vitamin A dosage.

Conclusion

Vitamin A is one of the essential nutrients that we need to stay healthy. It has a number of important roles in our body, from maintaining healthy vision to reducing the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Therefore, it’s very important that your daily intake of this vitamin is at the optimal level. Remember that both too little and too much of vitamin A can lead to serious health conditions. You should try to follow a balanced diet that includes various foods rich in this vitamin as this is the best option for your health. Of course, vitamin supplements can be beneficial for some people, but in general you should avoid taking them.

FAQs

What does vitamin A do in the human body?

Vitamin A is responsible for the normal functioning of a number of organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, and the reproductive system. It is essential for normal vision and strong immune system.

What are the benefits of taking vitamin A?

A recommended daily intake of vitamin A will protect you from night blindness, keep your bones healthy, and boost your immune system. It may even reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as lung or prostate cancer. Just remember that it’s always best to include foods rich in this vitamin in your diet instead of relying on supplements.

What does vitamin A do to your face?

This vitamin has been successfully used in the treatment of acne. In addition, various face creams contain retinol as this ingredient helps in the fight against wrinkles. Consuming fruit and vegetables rich in beta-carotene can make your skin less prone to UV damage.

Which fruits are rich in vitamin A?

Fruits contain vitamin A in the form of carotenoids, which are actually yellow, orange, and red pigments. Therefore, fruits in these colors are high in vitamin A. The list includes apricots (fresh and dried), passion fruit, red or pink grapefruit, mangoes, tangerines, and nectarines.

What are side effects of vitamin A?

High doses of this vitamin may cause adverse side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, irritability, fatigue, headaches, and many more. It can even lead to coma or death. If your diet is varied and well-balanced, you probably take sufficient amounts of vitamin A and there is no need to take any supplements. Whatever the case, always consult your doctor prior to using any nutritional supplements.

Which foods are high in vitamin A?

Vitamin A can be found in a variety of foods of both animal and plant origin. Meat, especially liver, fish, dairy products, and eggs are all high in this vitamin. Other vitamin A foods are green, leafy vegetables, such as kale; orange vegetables, such as carrots; and orange fruits, like apricots and mangos.

Foods rich in Vitamin A bring a lot of positive effects on our health. First of all, its benefits for the eyesight can not be undermined. In fact, Vitamin A is also called as Retinol, directly implying its benefits for the eyes’ retina. Hence, sufficient amount of this vitamin can help in preventing blurred vision and other deficiencies for the eyes. Sufficient amount of Vitamin A will avoid the need to wear glasses at a young age.

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The benefits of this vitamin do not end there yet. It is also recognized to have anti-infective effects. It supports the immune system and helps the body avoid or fight off infections.

Aside from that, Vitamin A also plays an important role when it comes to providing skin protection. It also results to having clearer skin. Stronger bones, teeth and body tissues can be attained too if your diet has enough Vitamin A.

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Ensuring that you have ample amount of Vitamin A does not really take a lot of effort. There are numerous foods rich in Vitamin A that you can opt for. All you need to do is ensure that these foods are incorporated in your daily diet.

There may be supplements that could provide you this vitamin but nothing beats indulging in foods rich in Vitamin A. That way, you will be able to absorb it in its raw and most natural form. Here are some of the foods that you should eat:

Acai Berry- This is one of the most exceptional sources of Vitamin A. For people who have been diagnosed with deficiency, regular intake of this would help a lot because of the impressive amount of vitamin A in it.

Vegetables– Although a lot of vegetables contain this vitamin, there are some which stand out from the rest. This includes, parsley, spinach, lettuce, green turnip, cucumber and of course, carrots. Eating this raw is a better choice because when these are cooked, boiled or blanched, the heat destroys some of the vitamins that they contain. Aside from contributing in the health of our eyes, these vegetables also aid in cell growth.

Yellow and orange fruits– Fruits which have these colors like mango, cantaloupe and melons are also rich in Vitamin A. Aside from the benefits for eyesight, these also strengthens the immune system.

Dairy products– These are also foods rich in Vitamin A. Cheese, butter and eggs may be more popular as source of protein and calcium but the amount of Vitamin A in these foods are also impressive.

Animal liver– Whether it is beef, chicken or pork, this animal organ contains high amount of Vitamin A. The best way to prepare it is to fry it with onions and herbs or have it steamed. Among all animals, the turkey liver has the highest Vitamin A content.

All it takes is a little adjustment with our diet to be able to get sufficient amount of Vitamin A. With all the available foods rich in Vitamin A, having clearer vision and better health should not be too tasking.

The Best Foods High in Vitamin A to Add to Your Diet

If you want to maintain youthful skin, healthy hair, and a sharper sight, your morning collagen latte isn’t the only thing that’ll give you lustrous locks and a wrinkle-free glow. In the world of vitamins and nutrients, vitamin A is the superhero for your sight, skin, and hair. This fat-soluble vitamin also ensures your immune and reproductive systems are on their A game. Some research even suggests that vitamin A might help prevent cancer and macular degeneration, a main cause of blindness in older adults, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

There are two different types of vitamin A you can get from food. The first is a plant-based antioxidant, most commonly beta-carotene, that your body converts into vitamin A. The other type is a ready-to-use form found in animal foods. Both count toward your daily needs, notes Christy Brissette, R.D., president of 80-Twenty Nutrition.

Here’s how much you should aim for daily to reap all those benefits, along with 12 of the best food sources of vitamin A.

How Much Vitamin A Do I Need Per Day?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends men aim for 900 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents (RAE) and women 700 or 5,000 IU. But because the math can get complicated, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends eating 4 to 6 cups of red and orange veggies and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of dark green veggies weekly to hit your target, says Brissette.

Since most Americans eat plenty of meat and dairy (both good sources of vitamin A), a vitamin A deficiency isn’t common in the U.S. It’s more of an issue in developing countries, which have less access to fresh produce and meat, Brissette says. Symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency include fatigue, night blindness, dry skin and hair, and brittle nails. But “if you’re meeting the USDA’s recommended veggie amount, you should hit your goal,” says Brissette.

On the flip side, too much vitamin A can damage your liver, where unused vitamin A is stored, explains Brisette, so you want to be cautious about how much vitamin A supplements you’re taking. Want to make sure you’re on your best vitamin A game? Here are a few of the top food sources of vitamin A to add to your diet.

1

Sweet Potatoes

Vitamin A content: 1,096 mcg (438% DV) per baked sweet potato with flesh

“This one tops my list,” says Brissette. A medium sweet spud with the skin on packs a whopping 560 percent of your daily value (DV) of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are higher in fiber than white and yellow potatoes, which helps keep you regular, lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and boosts your immune system by promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria. They’re also lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, so they don’t raise and drop your blood sugar as much, keeping your hunger in check and helping you manage your weight.

Because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, you’ll absorb it better if you pair your potato with just five grams of healthy fat like olive oil, butter, or avocado oil, says Brissette. Try one of these delish sweet potato recipes.

2

Liver

Vitamin A content: 6,582 mg (444% DV) per 3-ounces pan-fried beef liver

You might not think liver ever makes it to your plate, but it does if you ever dip into paté or foie gras on a charcuterie board. In three ounces of pan-fried beef liver, you’ll get 444 percent of your daily vitamin A needs. “Liver is the main place extra vitamin A is stored in us and in animals, so if you eat animal liver that’s where a lot of it is,” says Brissette. With that said, liver is also high in saturated fat, so it’s not a nutritionist’s top pick—especially compared to the other options on this list. “If you have enough veggie sources and dairy, you’ll be covered,” says Brissette.

3

Spinach

Vitamin A content: 573 mg (229% DV) per ½ cup frozen, boiled

“People only think of red and orange veggies as having beta-carotene, but some leafy greens are rich in it as well,” says Brissette. Half a cup of cooked spinach, for example, has 229 percent of your DV of vitamin A. It’s also loaded with antioxidants and vitamins C, E, K, and B along with fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Brissette likes keeping frozen spinach cubes on hand to throw into pasta sauce, smoothies, and soups to bump up the veggie content.

4

Broccoli

Vitamin A content: 60 mg (24% DV) per 1/2 cup frozen, boiled

The other dark leafy green that’s high in vitamin A, broccoli serves up 24 percent of your DV in 1/2 cup boiled, plus it’s packed with many of the same antioxidants and nutrients as spinach. Brissette buys broccoli frozen or fresh and chops it into tiny pieces to add to frittatas, omelets, and scrambles. Or she’ll top it on rice in her rice cooker or Instant Pot to bulk up the veggies and bring down the calories.

5

Carrots

Vitamin A content: 459 mg (184% DV) per 1/2 cup raw

“We probably think about carrots for improving eyesight because of World War II nutrition posters that encouraged people to eat carrots so they could see in the dark,” says Brissette. Another great source of beta-carotene, half a cup of raw carrots has 184 percent of your DV of vitamin A. And don’t worry about the sugar. “They’re packed with fiber, and you’d have to eat a lot of carrots for that to be an issue,” she adds.

While baby carrots are a super convenient and healthy snack dipped in hummus, try shredding whole carrots and adding to salads or tossing diced ones to tomato sauce to cut the acidity and add a sweet flavor without adding sugar.

6

Cantaloupe

Vitamin A content: 135 mg (54% DV) per 1/2 cup raw

A super-hydrating fruit, half a cup of the golden melon nets 54 percent of your DV of vitamin A. Brissette suggests chopping or balling up cantaloupe and adding them to a pitcher of ice water with cucumber slices to make a fresh fruit infusion. Or freeze cantaloupe bits and serve with ice cubes in water. If a cantaloupe is a bit over- or under-ripe, scoop out flesh and toss in a blender to make cantaloupe juice.

7

Mangoes

Vitamin A content: 112 mg (45% DV) per raw whole mango

One whole mango delivers 45 percent of your DV of vitamin A, but it’s also rich in vitamin C and other immune-boosting antioxidants. Brissette suggests dicing it up with red onions, jalapenos, and cilantro to make a mango salsa served on top of fish or shredded chicken tacos.

Noticing a trend with the orange fruits and veggies on the list? Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid, which is also a pigment that gives food its color. (You’ll also find beta-carotene in spinach and broccoli, but they’re green because they also have chlorophyll.) “Dietitians recommend eating the rainbow because phytochemicals come in different colors, and each is a hint that there are pigments with different health benefits,” says Brissette.

8

Dried Apricots

Vitamin A content: 63 mg (25% DV) per 10 halves

If you’re really looking for a vitamin A hit, choose dried over fresh apricots for a more concentrated source. 10 dried apricots add up to 25 percent of your DV of vitamin A. Stash a bag of no-sugar-added dried apricots in your office drawer for an easy, storable snack. Just keep an eye on your portions since dried fruit is higher in sugar and calories per volume than the fresh stuff. “Having a couple of tablespoons of dried fruit per day is fine, but I always recommend going for fresh or frozen first,” says Brissette.

9

Pumpkin Pie

Vitamin A content: 488 mg (249% DV) per 1 piece, commercially prepared

Here’s a dessert with a slice of health benefits. In a slice of pumpkin pie, you’ll get 249 percent of your DV of vitamin A. “Because it’s been cooked and blended, you’re getting a higher concentration than when it’s fresh,” says Brissette. But since the calories in a slice add up, a healthier option is to try swapping plain canned pumpkin—not pumpkin pie filling—as a nutrient-rich replacement for oils in recipes like pumpkin bread or pancakes, she suggests.

10

Red Bell Peppers

Vitamin A content: 117 mg (47% DV) per 1/2 cup red raw peppers

While you might think of peppers as a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium, 1/2 cup of raw chopped red peppers also offers 47 percent of your DV of vitamin A. Whip up the latest Instagram trend: The pepperwich. Chop a bell pepper in half, hollow out the seeds, and use it like bread by stuffing it with your favorite salad fillings (think tuna salad, brown rice, egg salad, chicken salad, etc.). Or stuff it with ground turkey, tomato sauce, mushrooms, and shredded cheese, and bake in the oven.

11

Low-Fat Milk

Vitamin A content: 149 mg (10% DV) per 1 cup fat-free or skim, with added vitamin A and vitamin D

Because it’s fortified, a cup of milk has about 10 percent of your daily vitamin A needs. While that’s not a lot, it’s a decent amount considering the protein, calcium, and vitamin D you’re also downing. If you sip on milk alternatives, keep in mind that some are fortified with vitamin A but a lot aren’t.

12

Sockeye Salmon

Vitamin A content: 59 mg (4% DV) per 3-ounces cooked

In terms of meat sources, oily fish is your best bet since vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, says Brissette. (Chicken, for example, only has about one percent of your DV of vitamin A). Salmon, herring, trout, arctic char, tuna, and eel are all decent sources. In three ounces of cooked sockeye salmon, you get four percent of your daily needs.

That said, you’ll want to eat fatty fish mostly for its other nutrients, especially anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids that support your heart health and brain function. Fatty fish is also one of the few foods that’s naturally high in vitamin D to support your bone health and immune system. Brissette suggests making poke bowls at home using high-grade salmon and yogurt instead of mayo, or burgers pan-fried in avocado oil using canned salmon.

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Vegetable Nutrition

Fresh vegetables are naturally low in fat, salt and sugar, making them an excellent food choice. Visit the recipe section of this website to discover delicious ways with vegetables.

Vegetables provide energy, vitamins, minerals and fibre and there is growing evidence of additional health benefits from a range of phytonutrients.

Some vegetables contain higher levels of carbohydrate and are often called starchy vegetables. These are usually roots and tubers (see vegetable classifications) such as potatoes, yams, kumara, taro and sweet corn. The starchy vegetables are higher in energy (kilojoules) because of their carbohydrate content.

Other vegetables are classified as non-starchy. Non-starchy vegetables tend to have a higher water content, and are lower in energy but often richer in vitamins and minerals.

Aim to make half your dinner vegetables and choose a range of different coloured vegetables. About one-quarter of the plate should be starchy foods for energy.

Phytonutrients

These are naturally occurring plant compounds. There are thousands of these different phytonutrients in vegetables, usually in small amounts. Plants produce them for their own protection from insects or bacteria, as pigments for photosynthesis (energy production) and flavour. They are often responsible for the bright colours of fruits and vegetables, and research is showing that these compounds may help reduce the risk of disease and promote health. Examples of phytonutrients are lycopene in tomatoes, beta-carotene in carrots and glucosinolates in broccoli.

There is no single magic phytonutrient that can be isolated and turned into a daily tablet! The most protective effect comes from eating a wide variety of phytonutrients as they occur naturally in plant foods.

Phytonutrients may work in lots of different ways to protect against disease and promote health. Modes of action that are being investigated include anti-inflammatory activity, boosting the body’s antioxidant defences, modulating gut microflora, lowering cholesterol, fighting bacteria and supporting the body’s immunity.

Main phytonutrients in vegetables

Unlike nutrients (vitamins and minerals) no recommended dietary intake levels have been established for phytonutrients. Health claims are not permitted (with the exception of some carotenoids that can be converted to vitamin A) and further human trials are required to substantiate the potential benefits suggested below.

Phytonutrients

Research on Potential Health Benefits

Vegetable Sources

Carotenoids

• Pro-vitamin A carotenoids: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin

Vitamin A activity (our body converts these carotenoids to vitamin A). Research indicates the carotenes may help to slow the ageing process, reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, improve lung function, help keep skin healthy and reduce complications associated with diabetes but more research is needed.

In many vegetables but high in carrots, pumpkin and green leafy vegetables

• Lycopene

Some studies have shown that diets rich in lycopene may reduce the risk of prostate and some other cancers as well as heart disease.

Tomatoes, watermelon

• Xanthophylls: lutein, zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in the retina and lens of the eye and are thought to play a role in maintaining proper vision as we age and may reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, silverbeet, lettuce; sweet corn

Glucosinolates, isothiocyanates

Glucosinolates (or their breakdown products the isothiocyanates) may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer by boosting enzymes that detoxify carcinogens.

Brassica vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, radish, swede, turnip, watercress

Phenolic compounds – including Polyphenols *

• Flavonoids

Over the past decade, scientists have become increasingly interested in the potential for various dietary flavonoids to explain some of the health benefits associated with fruit- and vegetable-rich diets. Health benefits include reducing cancer, diabetes and heart disease risk, helping maintain healthy bones, brain and vision.

Beans, onions, leafy vegetables, tomatoes

• Phenolic acids

More study is required but phenolic acids may have benefits for heart health and immunity.

In most vegetables but especially potatoes

• Anthocyanins

Research indicates anthocyanins may have a wide variety of health benefits including protecting against the signs of ageing, reducing the risk of cancer and diabetes. They may be neuroprotective to help prevent neurological diseases and improve aspects of vision.

Red, blue/purple vegetables – eggplant, purple broccoli, red/purple kumara, radish, rhubarb

Allium sulphur compounds

A whole range of health benefits have been suggested for the Allium sulphur compounds. In vitro and animal studies indicate Allium compounds may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, assist in preventing heart disease and have antimicrobial activity.

Garlic, leeks, onions, chives

Other compounds

Betalains

The betalains have received less attention than the more common natural red pigments, the anthocyanins. However, research indicates they have anti-inflammatory properties and may boost the body’s detoxification enzymes.

Beetroot, silverbeet, spinach (red and yellow varieties)

Falcarinol, falcarindiol

These compounds have attracted interest for their potential as anti-cancer compounds. However, at high levels these compounds can be toxic.

Carrots, celery, fennel, parsley, parsnips

Saponins

Saponins have been shown in some studies to have a number of protective effects in the human body, including reducing the risk of cancer, lowering cholesterol, and preventing heart disease.

Alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, beans, spinach

Phytosterols

Phytosterols may compete with cholesterol for absorption and lower cholesterol in the bloodstream. There is also some evidence phytosterols may help prevent cancer cell growth and may fight atherosclerosis by controlling the development of plaques.

Asparagus, beans, lettuce, peas, brassica family e.g. broccoli, swedes, cauliflower

Fructans

Research indicates fructans may have various health benefits especially for the digestive system and immunity. Because they improve mineral absorption they may have benefits for bone health. They also have effects on cholesterol metabolism and may have benefits for heart heath.

Onions, leeks, garlic, asparagus

Capsaicinoids

Capsaicinoids may have multiple potential beneficial effects including pain relief, cancer prevention and weight loss, plus to a lesser extent, benefits for the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems.

Capsicums, chillis

*This is a diverse group of thousands of phytochemicals – other types include catechins, isoflavones and lignans. Vegetables are not major sources of these phytochemicals.

Source and acknowledgement: Plant and Food Research, Lincoln 2018

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a large group of organic compounds made by plants. Examples of carbohydrate are sugars, starch and cellulose and they provide our bodies with energy.

  • Potatoes, yams and kumara contain carbohydrate, are called starchy vegetables and provide energy for our bodies.
  • About a quarter of the plate should be made up of starchy foods, non starch vegetables should make up half the plate.

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are natural substances found in a wide range of foods and are essential to maintain a healthy body. Scientists have defined specific daily amounts necessary for good health.

Why they are important

Vitamin A stimulates new cell growth, keeps cells healthy and can help vision in dim light. Vitamin A is found in vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, kumara, spinach and broccoli.

Vitamin B releases energy from food, and is good for the nervous system. Green vegetables contain Vitamin B.

Vitamin C is used in tissue repair, helps the immune system by fighting against infection and helps health in general. Vitamin C also helps iron in food to be absorbed. Capsicums and parsley are excellent sources of Vitamin C with significant amounts in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, radishes, peas, beans, asparagus. Potatoes, turnips, tomatoes, kumara, spring onions, lettuce and leeks also contain Vitamin C.

Vitamin K helps blood clot. Turnips, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, asparagus, watercress, peas and green beans have Vitamin K.

Calcium is necessary for healthy teeth, bones, hair and nails. Spinach, parsley, broccoli, celery, leeks, spring onions, cabbage and carrots contain calcium.

Potassium controls muscles and nerves and may be important in preventing high blood pressure. All vegetables contain potassium.

Iron is essential for red blood cells so that oxygen can be carried around the body. Eat vegetables that contain iron, with vegetables containing Vitamin C to help the iron be absorbed into the body. Spinach, silverbeet, parsley, leeks, broccoli and mushrooms are good sources of iron.

Avoid vitamin loss in vegetable preparation and cooking by:

  • Leaving the peel on as it contains vitamins as well as fibre.

  • Using a sharp knife. A blunt knife causes cell damage which leads to Vitamin C loss.

  • Cooking vegetables as soon as they are prepared. Don’t soak them in water as water-soluble vitamins (B and C) will be lost.

  • Using a small amount of water, or preferably, steam vegetables. Save the cooking water and use it in soups, stocks, gravies or enjoy as a drink.

Fibre

Fibre keeps the digestive system healthy, helps keep a healthy body weight and decreases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Fibre has also been found to lower cholesterol levels by reducing the reabsorption of cholesterol produced by the body to help with the digestion of fat (Ötles & Ozgoz, 2014).

  • All vegetables contain some fibre; some more than others. Vegetables that are high in fibre are broad beans, peas, spinach, watercress, green beans, sweet corn, silver beet, cabbage, butter beans, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
  • Carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes and kumara have a special type of fibre in their skins so scrub them instead of peeling them. Bake kumara and potatoes with the skin on.
  • Prepare and cook vegetables the right way to preserve their valuable nutrients and fibre. Leave the peel on whenever possible.
  • Vegetables that belong to the cabbage family (cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, swedes and Brussels sprouts) contain compounds that may be good at protecting against cancer.

Ötles, S., & Ozgoz, S. (2014). Health effects of dietary fiber. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum Technologia Alimentaria, 13(2), 191-202.

Vitamin A


Vitamins and minerals

What does the Department of Health and Social Care advise?

You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

If you take a supplement that contains vitamin A, don’t take too much because this could be harmful.

Liver is a very rich source of vitamin A. Don’t eat liver or liver products, such as pâté, more than once a week.

You should also be aware of how much vitamin A there is in any supplements you take.

If you’re pregnant or thinking of having a baby:

  • avoid taking supplements containing vitamin A, including fish liver oil, unless advised to by your GP
  • avoid liver or liver products, such as pâté, as these are very high in vitamin A

Women who have been through the menopause and older men, who are more at risk of osteoporosis, should avoid having more than 1.5mg of vitamin A a day from food and supplements.

This means:

  • not eating liver or liver products, such as pâté, more than once a week, or having smaller portions of these
  • taking no more than 1.5mg of vitamin A a day in supplements (including fish liver oil) if you don’t eat liver or liver products
  • not taking any supplements containing vitamin A (including fish liver oil) if you eat liver once a week

Having an average of 1.5mg a day or less of vitamin A from diet and supplements combined is unlikely to cause any harm.

Carrots are a source of vitamin A.

What is vitamin A?

There are 2 types of vitamin A. The first type, known as ‘fully formed’ vitamin A, is found in meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. The second type, known as precursor or provitamin A, is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products. The most common type of precursor vitamin A found in foods and dietary supplements is beta-carotene.

You need vitamin A for your eyes, especially for being able to see properly at night. It is also important for your immune system and for your skin. You can only get Vitamin A from food and drink.

Which foods are good sources of vitamin A?

In Australia, most people can get the vitamins they need from a healthy diet containing a wide variety of foods. Some good sources of fully formed and precursor vitamin A include:

  • lean meats, liver or liver pate, poultry, oily fish and egg yolks
  • leafy green vegetables, as well as orange, yellow and other coloured vegetables
  • legumes and beans
  • fruit, including tomatoes
  • wholegrain and/or high fibre foods, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, polenta, couscous, oats and barley
  • tofu, nuts and seeds
  • butter, whole milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat

The recommended daily intake of vitamin A for adult men and women is 0.9mg and 0.7mg, respectively.

Should I take vitamin A supplements?

Lots of people take vitamin supplements, but there is no good evidence that they help unless you have a deficiency. Australia’s best guide to how to eat healthily — the Australian Dietary Guidelines — doesn’t recommend them.

Vitamin supplements are expensive. They are best taken only on a doctor’s advice.

Am I at risk of vitamin A deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency can make it more difficult for you to see properly, especially at night. It can also make it hard for your body to fight infections.

You may be deficient in vitamin A if your body is unable to absorb it properly from your food. This may happen if you:

  • drink a lot of alcohol
  • have a medical condition such as anorexia nervosa, liver disease, cystic fibrosis or coeliac disease
  • have recently had gastrointestinal surgery

Vitamin A deficiency is usually diagnosed by doing a blood test.

If your vitamin A levels are very low, or your doctor suspects you have a vitamin A deficiency, they may prescribe you vitamin A supplements.

Can I have too much vitamin A?

You should not take vitamin A supplements unless your doctor tells you to. Having too much vitamin A in your body can cause serious health problems, including nausea, hair loss, blurred eyesight, orange skin colour and an inability to control body movement.

In pregnant women, too much vitamin A can cause birth defects.

Free Report: How To Reverse A Slow Metabolism

Okay ya’ll. Enough research has come down the pipeline in front of me that I’m starting to pivot away from viewing vitamin A as a nutrition superstar, but instead a necessary evil in which excess accumulation should be avoided (mostly in the form of supplements). And since I want to keep you up to date on the latest and the greatest information that comes before me, enter the vitamin A detox diet. The vitamin A detox diet is for people who may be sensitive to vitamin A or suspect vitamin A toxicity. This is perhaps the ONLY diet I may ever be a fan of, but only for those who need it. Here’s why…

Vitamin A excess in the body is much a problem of developed countries due to:

  • Prescription drugs containing vitamin A (think acne drugs)
  • Carotenoids in essential oils (taken orally or applied topically to the skin)
  • Birth control pill use (increases vitamin A in the body)
  • Vitamin A fortified foods (dairy + processed foods)
  • Multivitamins
  • Other supplements: cod liver oil, etc.
  • Anti-aging and beauty creams containing vitamin A
  • Sunscreens
  • “Healthy” diets containing lots of high vitamin A foods that are available “on demand” and not seasonally as intended
  • Overdosing on milk and cheese
  • Increase in liver consumption

If enough of those apply to you, take a look at the following list and see if you can check any more off symptoms that are connected to overexposure to vitamin A:

Alright, if I have your attention by now, go ahead and hop over and read my post all about vitamin A toxicity here or go the lazy route and read my summary below…

Vitamin A Toxicity

There is a very interesting and compelling theory circling the internet that vitamin A and it’s plant precursor, carotenoids, may not be a vitamin after all, but instead a toxin that is harmless at low levels but has a tipping point when it’s storage in the liver is exhausted. The theory originates from Grant Genereux, who contends that vitamin A toxicity happens at far, far lower levels than documented in the literature and is a cause of body-wide poisoning and perhaps the real cause of autoimmune disease.

You see, 90% of vitamin A is stored in your liver, and released into the bloodstream on a as-needed basis. But what happens when your liver’s storage capacity is full? The theory assumes that when the liver is already overwhelmed by vitamin A, it accumulates in tissues and fat storage leading to systematic inflammation, most specifically noted in changes to the skin, bones, and vision (read more here).

The Vitamin A Detox Diet Specifics

Now let’s get into the vitamin A detox diet. The goal here is to take in less vitamin A than your body is actually using, so over time vitamin A storage levels in the body drop to a healthier level. Supposedly, the ideal time frame for this diet is 3 months.

Here’s the big “no list:”

  • Dairy (other than butter and ghee)
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks (whites are okay)
  • Most colorful vegetables (think orange + red specifically and dark green for their high carotenoid, or pro-vitamin A content)
  • Multivitamins
  • Vitamin A containing supplements (liver, cod liver oil, etc.)
  • Any skin product or essential oil that is high in vitamin A or carotenoids

The basics of the low vitamin A diet is pretty easy. You’re not restricting anything too important (ie. calories, carbs, proteins, or fats), instead you’re just strategically weeding out foods that are naturally or synthetically engineered to have high levels of vitamin A. Because vitamin A carotenoids tend to give food their color, foods without vitamin A tend to be on the whiter side.

Even better perhaps, is this diet is NOT geared at weight loss. Instead it’s targeting at increasing health (by reducing toxicity in the body). But, as you know, weight loss can be a natural byproduct of getting healthy….

Here’s the basics of the vitamin A detox diet or what I’m calling the “white diet” due to white foods naturally being the lowest in vitamin A.

To oversimplify, a low vitamin A or a vitamin A detox diet is going to include a lot of “white foods”, but not exclusively:

Proteins

  • beef
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • bison
  • select seafood (pink seafood like salmon and shrimp contain the most vitamin A)

Fats

  • butter
  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • coconut milk
  • dark chocolate (not milk chocolate)

Vegetables (remove peels if they are colorful)

  • cauliflower
  • parsnips
  • white potatoes
  • zucchini
  • cucumber
  • onions
  • garlic

Fruits (peeled is preferred)

  • apples
  • pears
  • bananas
  • raisins
  • dried cranberries
  • pineapple
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • kiwi
  • strawberries
  • lemons/limes

Grains (organic ONLY, glyphosate found in inorganic grains may exacerbate the vitamin A issue)

  • oats
  • white rice
  • slow fermented sourdough bread (organic only!)
  • quinoa
  • amaranth
  • other gluten-free organic grains

Legumes

  • all beans except green beans, peas and mung beans

Nuts

  • most nuts

Other

  • Alcohol (in moderation shows to help remove vitamin A)
  • Spices – keep in mind vitamin A content and the quantity used.

Beyond that, it’s pretty easy to lookup a food (here or here) and get a general feel for how much vitamin A it contains.

That’s the very oversimplified basics of the vitamin A detox diet. According to Genereux, the originator of the most strict form of the diet, three months is a good time frame to detox vitamin A. But of course check with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before trying anything you read here (or anywhere on the internet) on yourself, because that would be just plain risky.

Have you ever tried a vitamin A detox diet? Please share in the comments!

PIN IT:

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is good for healthy vision, skin, bones and other tissues in the body. Vitamin A often works as an antioxidant, fighting cell damage, but it also has many other uses.

“Through its role with cell growth and division, vitamin A has an important role in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys and other vital organs,” Dr. Sherry Ross, women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Live Science.

Sources

There are two types of vitamin A. Preformed vitamin A, also called retinol, is found in animal products. Good sources are fortified milk, eggs, meat, cheese, liver, halibut fish oil, cream and kidneys. Pro-vitamin A is found in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). The most common type of pro-vitamin A is beta-carotene, a carotenoid that produces dark pigments in plant foods. Beta-carotene can be found in these brightly colored foods:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Apricots
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Broccoli

Benefits

Vitamin A has many varied functions. Retinol not only creates the pigments in the retina of the eye, according to NLM, but also is integral for good vision, especially night vision, and overall eye health. An age-related eye disease study by the National Eye Institute found that taking high levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin A, along with zinc, may reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration by about 25 percent. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of loss of vision in the older population, said Ross.

Vitamin A also helps skin grow and repair skin. “This being the case, it is the active ingredient in most Retin-A type products out today,” said Dr. David Greuner, director and co-founder of NYC Surgical Associates. Retin-A is a brand name for tretonin, a prescription medication that treats acne and other skin conditions. “It works by signaling to the cells to grow at a faster rate, bringing fresher, more youthful skin to the surface more rapidly. Used in excess, it can be quite irritating, however.”

Other functions of vitamin A include the formation and maintenance of teeth, bones, soft tissue, white blood cells, the immune system and mucus membranes. Beta-carotene also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage. Though many antioxidants prevent cancer, there is no evidence that beta-carotene supplements are helpful in the prevention of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. On the other hand, all-natural beta-carotene that can be consumed through vegetables and fruits has been found to helpful in preventing cancer in many studies.

Vitamin A deficiency due to maternal alcohol use is thought to be a factor in fetal alcohol syndrome. A study by the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Calgary found that treating mothers with vitamin A may help to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome.

Deficiency and dosage

Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the United States, although it is common in many developing countries. “In fact, Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of childhood blindness in Southeast Asia,” said Greuner. Around 250,000 to 500,000 children around the world with vitamin A deficiency become blind every year. Half of those children die within 12 months of losing their sight, according to the World Health Organization. Symptoms of a severe deficiency are night blindness, dry eyes, diarrhea and skin problems.

Vitamin A dosage is tricky. Too little can make a person more susceptible to disease and vision problems while too much can create many problems, as well. The recommended dietary intakes for vitamin A depend on age, gender and reproductive status. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for adult women is 700 micrograms (mcg) and for adult men it is 900 mcg per day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Doses over 25,000 international units (IU) per day should be avoided as they are likely to cause side effects, according to the NLM. One IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 mcg retinol, or of 0.6 mcg beta-carotene, according to the National Institute of Health. For comparison, a baked sweet potato (half a cup) has 19,218 IU of vitamin A, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A medium cantaloupe has 18,668 IU and a carrot (half a cup, chopped) has 10,692 IU.

“Overdose of Vitamin A is absolutely a plausible scenario given its fat soluble nature, and it has been associated with a diverse set of symptoms ranging from skin and hair loss to neurologic problems, to gastrointestinal complains. In addition, liver injury has been described in situations of long term excess,” said Greuner.

Dr. Kristine Arthur, an internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, agrees, “High doses long term can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, balance problems, liver problems, muscle pain, confusion, higher risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures.”

Additional resources

  • Oregon State University: Vitamin A
  • Mayo Clinic: Vitamin A
  • UK National Health Services: Vitamin A
  • US News and World Report: Popular but Dangerous- 3 Vitamins That Can Hurt You

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