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Foods High in Vitamin A

The great thing about vitamin A is that it’s so easy to get into your diet. Meat, fish, and dairy products are all good sources of vitamin A.

The Answer is Sweet Potatoes: Not only are sweet potatoes all the rage these days, but they’re also a delicious and nutrient-dense source of vitamin A. One cup provides 460% of your DRI. This makes them one of the best vitamin A foods you can find!

Before we look at the top 10 foods high in vitamin A, let’s take a minute to understand why this nutrient is so important.

What is Vitamin A Good for?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction.

Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.

There are two different types of vitamin A. The first type, preformed vitamin A, is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. The second type, provitamin A carotenoids, is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods.

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids are converted to vitamin A in the body. Some research suggests that beta-carotene might have antioxidant effects.

Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are made when your body breaks down food or when you’re exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation. Free radicals can cause damage to cells that may lead to cancer.

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that maintains healthy vision, supports the immune system, and plays a key role in reproduction.

Vitamin A plays a key role in:

Vision — It helps you see at night. It also protects your eyes by supporting the production of pigments in the retina called rhodopsin and iodopsin.

Immune function — Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals in your body, which may help limit inflammation (2Trusted Source). It also supports the health of white blood cells, which can help with immune function.

Cell growth — Your body uses vitamin A to support cell growth and differentiation. This helps keep your organs and tissues functioning properly.

List of 10 Foods That Are High in Vitamin A.

  1. Carrots

One cup of raw carrots contains over 200% of your daily recommended intake (DRI) of vitamin A. Carrots are great for the eyes and vision and can be eaten raw, cooked, or even juiced.

  1. Sweet Potatoes

Not only are sweet potatoes all the rage these days, but they’re also a delicious and nutrient-dense source of vitamin A. One cup provides 460% of your DRI. This makes them one of the best vitamin A foods you can find!

  1. Spinach

Popeye was on to something when he wolfed down can after can of spinach. One cup of raw spinach provides 56% of your DRI for vitamin A, along with tons of other amazing health benefits and vitamins.

  1. Kale

Kale is another leafy green vegetable that’s packed full of nutrients, including vitamin A! One cup contains 10% of your daily needs and it’s a great choice for salads, smoothies or as a snack!

  1. Collard Greens

Collard greens contain a healthy dose of vitamin A — one cup contains nearly 25% of your daily needs! They’re also extremely high in dietary fiber, which helps keep you full longer.

  1. Apricots
  2. Pumpkin
  3. Butternut Squash
  4. Red Bell Peppers
  5. Cantaloupe

Who Is at Risk for Vitamin A Deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency is a serious disease that affects millions of people around the world every year. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness globally, as well as an increased risk of death from severe infections.

According to the WHO, vitamin A deficiency is common in developing countries because people living there rely heavily on plant-based diets that contain low amounts of vitamin A. People in developed areas are also at risk if they follow strict diets or have poor overall nutrition. Furthermore, certain medical conditions may increase your risk for vitamin A deficiency.

How Much Vitamin A Do I Need?

In general, the more a nutrient you eat, the more benefit you get. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat too much of a good thing. At high levels, some nutrients can actually be harmful to your health.

That’s not the case with vitamin A — at least not in the amounts, most people get from foods. There is little evidence that eating foods containing vitamin A cause harm. And while it’s possible to take too much vitamin A as a supplement, it’s not easy to do so by eating vitamin A-rich foods or fortified foods (such as cereals)

The amount of vitamin A you need depends on your age and sex. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg):

Birth to 6 months 400 mcg

Infants 7–12 months 500 mcg

Children 1–3 years 300 mcg

Children 4–8 years 400 mcg

Children 9–13 years 600 mcg

Teens 14–18 years 700 mcg for females 900 mcg for males

Adults 700 mcg for females 900 mcg for males

Pregnant teens 750 mcg

Pregnant women 770 mcg

What about Beta-Carotene Supplements?

The best dietary source of beta-carotene is orange and dark green vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and broccoli. Beta-carotene supplements can be taken when dietary sources are not available.

In the U.S., beta-carotene is available in a number of forms: pills, capsules and liquid form. Beta-carotene is also available in combination with other carotenoids and with vitamins A, C and E.

Beta-carotene may help prevent vitamin A deficiency; however, it is not a substitute for vitamin A.

The Bottom Line

You can get most of the vitamin A you need from food.

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