Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin rich in nutritional value, which can be found in various food sources, including spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and dairy products.
- Preformed vitamin A found in animal products, such as fish, meat, dairy products and poultry.
- Provitamin A found in plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
The most common form of provitamin A is beta carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin, as the body converts carotenoids into retinol. Food sources of beta carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin pie.
Proper nutrition requires the right amount of vitamin A to promote healthy skin and mucous membranes, good eye vision and health and boosting your immune system.
Below is a table of rich sources of vitamin A and carotenoids:
Beef liver and other organ meats
Herring, salmon and tuna
Milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream
Eggs, chicken breast and skin
Vegetables and beans
Leafy greens, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, summer squash, baked beans and peppers
Fruits (yellow-orange fruits)
Mangoes, cantaloupe, tomato and apricot
Fortified breakfast cereals, pistachio and fish oils
How much vitamin A do you need every day?
Your vitamin A requirement may vary according to your age, gender and special situation, such as pregnancy and lactation (breastfeeding). This vitamin intake may be expressed as a recommended dietary allowance (RDA). RDA is defined as the average amount of vitamin A one needs to consume every day to sufficiently meet its requirements in nearly all (97 to 98 percent) healthy individuals.
Zero to six months
7 to 12 months
One to three years
Four to eight years
9 to 13 years
14 years and above (men)
14 years and above (women)
Pregnant women (14 to 18 years)
Pregnant women (19 to 50 years)
Lactating women (14 to 18 years)
Lactating women (19 to 50 years)
*Micrograms of retinol activity equivalents (RAE). One microgram of RAE is equivalent to 1 microgram of retinol, 2 micrograms of supplemental beta carotene, 12 micrograms of dietary beta carotene or 24 micrograms of dietary alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin. Expressing vitamin A requirements in the RAE form helps decipher the requirements for different vitamin A precursors.
Next to red peppers, you can get the most vitamin C from ________________.
Who is at risk of vitamin A deficiency?
Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the United States because most people get a sufficient amount of vitamin A through their diet. However, certain conditions may put an individual at risk of a vitamin deficiency (such as vitamin D and vitamin C).
Some of the high-risk groups for vitamin A deficiency include:
- People with conditions that interfere with vitamin A absorption from the gut such as Crohn’s disease and cystic fibrosis
- People who consume excessive alcohol
- Premature or preterm babies (babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- People with chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis
- People with increased vitamin A requirements such as pregnant and lactating women, infants, children and adolescents
- Picky eaters or followers of restrictive nutritional patterns such as vegans
- People who have undergone intestinal surgeries for weight loss or other reasons
What are the symptoms of low vitamin A?
Some of the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Frequent infections
- Xerophthalmia (a severe eye condition that causes corneal damage and may lead to blindness if left untreated)
- Bitot’s spots (small patches on the white of the eyes)
- Night blindness or nyctalopia (inability to see in dim light)
- Dry, scaly skin
- Rough or dry hair
What are the harmful effects of excessive vitamin A intake?
Excessive intake of vitamin A can lead to various health issues. Symptoms may vary depending on whether the excessive intake occurred over a short period (acute poisoning) or a long period (chronic poisoning).
Some of the symptoms of vitamin A poisoning include:
- Birth defects (when high doses are taken during pregnancy)
- Yellowing of the skin (due to excessive intake of vitamin A precursor such as beta carotene)
If any signs of vitamin A toxicity are observed or if you accidentally consume a large amount of vitamin A, consult your doctor immediately. Untreated cases may lead to serious complications and may even turn fatal.