top sources of vitamin a

Vitamin A is a significant fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Vitamin A is essential for the immune system functioning, skin health, eye health, vision and reproduction. There are two types of vitamin A – Provitamin A and Preformed vitamin A. Both have to be metabolized inside the cell to retinal and retinoic acid. These two are the active compounds of vitamin A. Vitamin A also helps the body fight against free radicals, infections, supports growth, and in the re-modelling of bones. We attempt to explore some of the top sources of vitamin A for better health.

Human body makes free radicals naturally, and these increase when subjected to stress, poor intake, pollution and cigarette smoke. It damages cells and organs resulting in visible aging of skin and causes diseases. But the good news is that vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that destroys all free radicals and helps us to stay young and fit for longer.

Foods that are top sources of Vitamin A

Sweet potatoes

One medium sizes sweet potato gives you the complete recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes contain fibre, vitamin B6, manganese, and are also rich in vitamins C and E. The active component of beta-carotene in vitamin A is useful in the prevention of various types of cancer.  In addition, it protects our skin from sun damage and maintains eye health. Every 100 grams of sweet potatoes contain 14187 IU which means 283% that is more than the Daily Recommended Value.

Sweet potato fries

Beef liver

Beef liver offers significant amount of vitamin A, protein, vitamin B12, minerals, and cholesterol. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the production of genetic materials while protein helps to make and repair cells. The essential nutrient in vitamin A facilitates reproductive function and growth. It also plays a vital role in organ, immune and vision health.

Caution: Cholesterol is the major disadvantage of beef liver as excessive cholesterol may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Limited consumption is good for health.

Every 100 gram of beef liver contains 17997 IU which is 359% – more than the Daily Recommended Value.

Cod liver oil

Cod liver oil contains high amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A rich foods are beneficial for bone growth, testicular and ovarian function, night vision, healthy cellular growth and much more. Cod liver oil gives a number of health benefits such as lowering high blood pressure, treating depression, healing wounds, preventing heart diseases, lowering high cholesterol and high triglycerides.

Every 100 grams of cod liver oil contain 100000 IU that means 2000% – way more than the Recommended Daily Value. One teaspoon of oil is more than enough for a day.

Spinach

Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamins A, K, V, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B12. The dark green colour of spinach contains high levels of chlorophyll and carotenoids (beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin). All these phytochemicals have anti-cancerous and anti-inflammatory properties which are important for eye-sight, and prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.

Every 100 grams of spinach contains 9337 IU, approximately 187% of RDA.

spinach
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Pumpkin

Pumpkins are great sources of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, a carotenoid which converts to retinol a form of vitamin A. This promotes healthy vision and immune health. Alpha-carotene is an anti-aging nutrient which is good for skin health. This is because it increases the production of collagen that gives younger and smooth skin.

Ebery 100 grams of pumpkin contains 8513 IU which is 170% of RDA.

pumpkin soup
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Tomato juice

Tomatoes and tomato juice are high in anti-inflammatory properties which help to reduce blood clots. Vitamin A provides antioxidant properties protecting against colon cancer, atherosclerosis asthma and diabetes.

Every 100 grams of tomatoes contain 450 IU which is 9% of Recommended Daily Value.

Tomato juice

Egg

Eggs are so nutritious that they are also referred as nature’s multivitamin. Eggs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and powerful brain nutrients. Egg contains vitamin A, B12, B2, B5, and selenium. White part contains protein and the yolk contains all essential nutrients. It is hence important to eat the whole egg to get optimum health benefits.

100 grams of boiled egg contains 520 IU which is 10% of Recommended Daily Value.

quail egg
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Carrots

Carrots are rich in vitamin A, C, K, calcium, and have anti-inflammatory properties. The nutrients and anti-oxidant properties lower risk of cancer and heart attacks. Carrot extract has been found to be useful for vision, brain health, and liver health.

Every 100 grams of carrot contains 16706 IU which is more than the Recommended Daily Value.

Carrot juice
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Bell peppers

Bell peppers are excellent sources of six carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin), vitamin C, E, folate, fibre, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous. Over cooking can damage some of the fine phytonutrients in bell peppers, so lower the heat for a short period of time and cook it.

Every 100 grams of bell pepper contains 3131 IU that is 62% of RDA.

Broccoli

Broccoli contains vitamins A, K, C, chromium, folate fibre and all other essential minerals. The vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, carotenoids,and antioxidants contained in broccoli works together as a group to lower the risk of oxidative damages, protects from cancer and supports the cardiovascular and digestive system.

Two carotenoids namely lutein and zeaxanthin contained in broccoli plays a significant role in eye health. Glucoraphanin found in broccoli gets converted into sulforaphane by the body. Since skin cells can actively carry out the process of detoxification. It also protects our skin from sun damage.

Every 100 grams of broccoli contains 623 IU that is 12% of Recommended Daily Value.

Mangoes

Mango contains antioxidant compounds such as quercetin, isoquercitrin, fisetin, methylgallat, astragalin, and gallic acid. All these antioxidants protect our body from colon, breast, prostate, and leukemia cancers. The compound of vitamin A promotes good eyesight, prevents dry eyes and night blindness.

Every 100 grams of sliced mangoes contain 1082 IU that is 21% of Recommended Daily Value.

Mango salad
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Ice cream

Ice cream contains vitamins A, B2, B12, calcium and protein. Regular intake of calcium through ice cream and other diary reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium is good for bones, teeth and also for weight loss. Vitamin A is significant for healthy skin, immune function and bone metabolism. Protein helps in building and repairing tissues.

Every 100 grams of ice cream contains 421 IU which is 8% of RDA. (Don’t ask us about the calories though!)

Some of the other vitamin A rich foods are:

Butter, Salmon, whole milk, winter squash, green peas, butternut squash, chicken liver, cheese, collards, and kale.

Deficiency of vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency leads to eye problems, night blindness, xeropthalmia, hyperkeratosis, and scaly skin.

Overdose of vitamin A – Side effects

Too much intake of vitamins does not mean that they are super good for you. Vitamin A is fat-soluble and our body stores it in the liver. So the excessive amount vitamin A, primarily affects the liver and leads to liver diseases. It also creates dizziness, nausea, sickness, pain in the joints and bones, skin irritation, to name a few.

Eat in moderation.

Eating a healthy balanced diet is always good for you.

Kalaivani Selvaraj, MBA, got her Master’s degree in Human Resources. Due to her interest in natural healing, she pursued studies in the field of alternative medicine and is certified in Aromatherapy by Isla Verde Spa Training Academy. Ms. Kalaivani Selvaraj is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.