Sources of Vitamin A

Vitamin A

All about the sources of Vitamin A ...

Vitamin A is is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver.

Food sources of vitamin A include animal livers, fish liver oils, dairy products, egg yolks, and deep green, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits.

Best Food Sources of Vitamin A

  • Fruits: Apricots, papaya, peaches, and cantaloupe
  • Vegetables: Pumpkin, red peppers, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, carrots, collards, dandelion greens, garlic, kale, spinach, mustard greens, spirulina, sweet potatoes, turnip greens, watercress, yellow squash, and Swiss chard
  • Liver: Fish liver and fish liver oil, including cod liver oil
  • Dairy Products: Full-fat milk, cheese, butter, fortified margarine, low fat milk, and egg yolks

    Animal sources of vitamin A are about six times more potent than vegetable sources.

    Herb Sources of Vitamin A

    Vitamin A is also found in alfalfa, borage leaves, cayenne (capsicum) burdock root, chickweed, fennel seed, horsetail, hops, kelp, lemon grass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, sage, violet leaves, watercress, yellow dock, uva ursi, and eyebright.

    Vitamin A Content of Selected Foods

    The following is an example of vitamin A content of selected foods, in International Units per 3½ oz. (100-g.) Serving

  • Liver, beef -- 43,900 (IU)
  • Liver, calf -- 22,500 (IU)
  • Chili peppers -- 21,600 (IU)
  • Dandelion root -- 14,000 (IU)
  • Chicken liver -- 12,100 (IU)
  • Carrots -- 11,000 (IU)
  • Apricots, dried -- 10,900 (IU)
  • Collard, greens -- 9,300 (IU)
  • Kale -- 8,900 (IU)
  • Sweet potatoes -- 8,800 (IU)
  • Parsley -- 8,500 (IU)
  • Spinach -- 8,100 (IU)
  • Mustard greens -- 7,000 (IU)
  • Mangoes -- 4,800 (IU)
  • Hubbard squash -- 4,300 (IU)
  • Cantaloupe -- 3,400 (IU)
  • Apricots -- 2,700 (IU)
  • Broccoli -- 2,500 (IU)

    Health Benefits of Vitamin A

    What can vitamin A do for you?

  • Promotes and maintains healthy vision.
  • Essential for the normal growth and development of bone tissue, teeth, and epithelial cells.
  • Keeps the outer layers of your body’s tissues and organs healthy.
  • Enhances immunity.
  • Helps build your body's resistance to respiratory infections.
  • Helps fade age spots.
  • Helps promote strong bones, and healthy skin, hair, teeth, and gums.
  • Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant, and, as such, it can neutralize free radicals, which are highly reactive chemical substances in the body that can damage cellular material, causing premature aging and disease if left unchecked.

    Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency

    The following are possible deficiency signs in sources of Vitamin A:

  • Night blindness or difficulty adjusting to dim lights.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Stunted growth.
  • Rough, dry, and scaly skin.
  • Pitted teeth.
  • Insomnia.
  • Dry hair.
  • Fatigue.
  • Abscesses in ears.
  • Sinusitis.
  • Skin disorders, including acne.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Weight loss.
  • Frequent colds and other respiratory infections.
  • Reproductive problems, including difficulty conceiving, abnormal fetal growth, and fetal death in severe cases.

    Vitamin A deficiency tends to be common in alcoholics and is often seen in HIV-positive people.

    Signs of Vitamin A Overdose

    High doses of vitamin A can be toxic if consumed daily over a prolonged period of time, mainly to the liver. In fact, overdoses of vitamin A can cause serious liver damage. Toxic amounts: 50,000 IU (15,000 RE) daily.

    Signs of overdose include:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Abdominal pain, nausea.
  • Headaches, irritability, fatigue.
  • Dry, cracked, or scaly skin.
  • Hair loss.
  • Bone and joint pain; and easy fractures; muscle aches.
  • Jaundice or severe itchiness.
  • Possible birth defects if large amounts are taken before and during pregnancy.
  • Enlargement of the liver and/or spleen.
  • Elevated liver enzymes.

    Recommended Daily Allowances

    The Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin A is as follows: RE stands for retinol.

  • Under 1 year: 1,875 IU (375 RE)
  • 1-3 years: 2,000 IU (400 RE)
  • 4-6 years: 2,500 IU (500 RE)
  • 7-10 years: 3,500 IU (700 RE)
  • Males 11 years to adult: 5,000 IU (1,000 RE)
  • Females 11 years to adult: 4,000 IU (800 RE)

    Healthy adults should not consume more than 10,000 IU (3,335 RE) daily from all sources of vitamin A. Pregnant women should not exceed a daily dosage of 8,000 IU (2,400 RE). Toxicity has been reported in children who consumed 20,000 to 60,000 IU (5,700 to 17,100 RE) daily over a period of one to three months.

    It is not recommended that children be given vitamin A supplements unless prescribed by a physician. If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your physician before taking any dietary supplements.

    The best way to get your daily recommended amounts is through food sources of vitamin A.

    Form Sources of Vitamin A

    First, the term "vitamin A" is somewhat misleading since it tends to imply that the nutrient is a single entity. However, there are actually two major forms of vitamin A:

    1. Preformed or active vitamin A, also referred to as retinols. Preformed vitamin A (retinols) are found in foods that come from animals such as meat, milk, and eggs.

    2. Precursor forms. The precursor forms come from plants and are often referred to as carotenoids, so named because carrots are a rich and major source of beta-carotene. Certain carotenoids, not all, and most notably beta-carotene, is a precursor of vitamin A, meaning our body converts beta-carotene into active vitamin A. Therefore, even strict vegetarians can meet their daily needs from a diet that consist of ample yellow, orange, and dark green vegetables and fruits.

    Toxicity of this vitamin is almost always due to taking high-dose vitamin A supplements. In fact, experts point out that it is almost impossible to overdose on dietary sources of vitamin A alone. However, the exception might include young children who are fed a diet consisting of large amounts of liver. In contrast, no overdose or toxicity can occur when taking high doses of beta-carotene since the body converts only a relatively small amount to the active form. On the other hand, prolonged high doses of beta-carotene or very high intake of beta-carotene dietary sources such as carrots, tomatoes, and other food sources high in carotenoids can cause your skin to turn slightly yellow-orange but it's harmless.

    Bottom line –

    Beta-Carotene sources of vitamin A does not have the same effect as vitamin A in the body and is not harmful in larger amounts -- exception would be if your liver cannot convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. As such, for most people, the best source of vitamin A is beta-carotene because it is converted by the liver into only the amount that the body actually needs. There is a good possibility, however, if you suffer from diabetes or hypothyroidism, your body cannot convert beta-carotene into vitamin A.

    Preparation & Handling of Food Sources of Vitamin A

    Varying amounts of Vitamin A and its precursors are lost during preparation, cooking, or storage. When appropriate, eat vegetables raw. If vegetables require cooking, it's best to steam them. Also, braise, bake, or broil meat instead of frying as this will help retain some of the vitamin content. In fact, cooking or canning decreases the content of precursors of vitamin A by 15 to 35 percent. In contrast, the valuable nutrients are preserved during freezing, including freeze-drying. In addition, store fruits and vegetables, especially leafy vegetables, in a refrigerator crisper and use as soon as possible after harvesting. Lastly, it's important to note that vitamin A and its precursors are rapidly destroyed by exposure to ultraviolet light and rancid fats.

    We here at Nutritional-Supplement-Educational-Centre personally take a highly sophisticated comprehensive all-in-one multi-nutrient supplement called Total Balance, which contains over 70 specialized nutrients, including Beta Carotene that the body needs for optimium 'whole' body health.

    We hope this webpage discussing the Sources of Vitamin A was useful to you.

    To Your Health!

    The Editors

    Much more than the Sources of Vitamin A at our Vitamin Information webpage

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