Welcome to a nutritious voyage exploring the essence of Vitamin A, a key player in promoting eye health, strengthening immunity, and revitalizing your skin with vitamin A foods.
This guide is a treasure trove unveiling foods rich in Vitamin A alongside a collection of vitamin A-rich recipes designed to enthral your taste buds while nourishing your body. Discover the array of vitamin A-rich foods that can boost your health.
Whether you’re embarking on a healthier lifestyle or seeking culinary inspiration, this guide serves as your compass towards a flourishing life filled with colour, vitality, and delectable flavours.
- High Vitamin A Foods (Per Serving)
- Vitamin A Rich Foods (Per Calorie)
- Vitamin A Food Chart
- How Much Vitamin A Do You Need?
- Vitamin A Boosting Recipes
- Benefits of Vitamin A
- Functions of Vitamin A in Your Body
- Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency
- Vitamin A in the Food System
- Bioavailability of Vitamin A
- Vitamin A Excess and Toxicity
- Upper Limit Intake of Vitamin A
- Symptoms and Side Effects of Vitamin A Toxicity
- Does Vitamin A Help Your Skin and Acne?
- How Can I Increase My Vitamin A Intake?
- Synergistic Nutrients
- How Can I Calculate if I am Getting Enough Vitamin A?
- Nutrient Density Starter Pack
- Nutrient Series
High Vitamin A Foods (Per Serving)
Animal and seafood are highest in retinol, the most bioavailable form of vitamin A. Therefore, your body does not need to convert it into a different form, which is the most efficient way to get vitamin A from your diet.
If you fall short of the recommended vitamin A intake, it’s time to focus on foods that pack in more vitamin A per serving.
To help you get started, the infographic below shows the vitamin A provided by popular foods in the average serving sizes consumed by our Optimisers.
Once you’re ready to revitalise your diet with a wider variety of high-vitamin A foods, download our printable list of foods with more vitamin A per serving here.
Vitamin A Rich Foods (Per Calorie)
Once you know you’re getting the minimum amount of vitamin A your body needs, you can zero in on foods that deliver more per calorie to increase your satiety and nutrient density.
\Rich sources include retinol from liver, fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, mackerel), egg yolk, and dairy products like whole milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese. Additionally, fortified milk and yogurt are good sources of Vitamin A.
The infographic below shows popular foods that provide more vitamin A per calorie.
For more variety, check out our printable list of vitamin A-rich foods per calorie.
Vitamin A Food Chart
Curious about how your favourite foods stack up in the vitamin A game? Dive into our dynamic chart showcasing popular foods, comparing vitamin A content per calorie and per serving. For an immersive experience, explore the interactive Tableau version (on your computer).
How Much Vitamin A Do You Need?
Our satiety analysis reveals that your body craves at least 400 mcg of vitamin A per 2000 calories, which is significantly less than the Dietary Reference Intake of 900 mcg for men. However, achieving the Optimal Nutrient Intake of 1100 mcg per 2000 calories from food aligns with an impressive 21% reduction in energy intake.
Vitamin A Boosting Recipes
Elevate your culinary game with our chart, showcasing over 1400 NutriBooster recipes used in our Micros Masterclass. We’ve plotted these recipes based on vitamin A content versus protein percentage. The further right you go, the more vitamin A you can enjoy with fewer calories.
Dive into the details with our interactive Tableau chart on your computer. Click on each recipe to uncover the magic behind it and even feast your eyes on mouthwatering pictures!
Benefits of Vitamin A
- Vision: Vitamin A is necessary for the proper functioning of the retina in the eyes. It helps maintain good vision, especially in low-light conditions. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness and, eventually, complete blindness.
- Immunity: Vitamin A is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. It helps in the production and functioning of white blood cells, which protect the body against infections and diseases.
- Skin and Hair Health: Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy skin and hair. It helps in the production of sebum, which is a natural oil that keeps the skin and hair moisturised. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to dry, flaky skin and dull, dry hair.
- Bone Health: Vitamin A plays a role in forming and maintaining strong bones. It helps absorb and utilise calcium, which is necessary for bone growth and development.
- Reproduction, Growth and Development: Vitamin A is essential for proper reproduction and growth. It is important for the development of the foetus during pregnancy and helps in the growth and development of children.
Functions of Vitamin A in Your Body
- Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin critical to vision, fertility, and reproduction. It also helps your heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.
- The liver stores Vitamin A until it’s needed for use by the body.
- Another name for Vitamin A is Retinol. This is due to its importance in the retina in your eye.
- Vitamin A plays an essential role in maintaining your immune system and preventing infection, as it is crucial for the health of protective epithelial tissue found in your gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and sinuses.
- We need vitamin A for healthy skin and to avoid acne.
- To see at night, we need adequate retinol.
- Vitamin A is also essential for reproduction and development.
- Vitamin A is one nutrient many people are not getting enough of, especially in developing countries.
- Although uncommon, getting too much vitamin A from food is also possible.
Vitamin A-rich foods are essential for maintaining good health. Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include:
- dry and scaly skin,
- dry lips and thickened tongue,
- corneal erosions,
- dry eyes,
- night blindness,
- poor vision,
- infertility and trouble conceiving,
- delayed growth,
- keratinisation of mucus membranes,
- low immunity,
- throat and chest infections,
- poor wound healing and
The availability of vitamin A in our food system has decreased since the US Dietary Guidelines in 1977. People were encouraged to consume more grains and fewer animal products due to concerns about the impact of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet on heart disease risk.
The amount of vitamin A typically available in the food system now is well below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) and the Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) (data from USDA Economic Research Service). As a result, many people need to prioritise foods that contain more vitamin A, particularly if they do not consume much meat and seafood.
It’s important to understand that there are two types of vitamin A: its provitamin from beta carotene and its pre-form, retinol.
We get provitamin A carotenoids like alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin from plant-based foods like orange and green vegetables. Beta carotene is one component that gives these colourful foods pigment.
Bountiful sources of beta-carotene include fruits and vegetables with orange, yellow, and red flesh (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, mango, papaya, apricots) and leafy green vegetables (e.g., spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard).
Most people can convert adequate amounts of provitamin vitamin A to pre-formed vitamin A if they get enough in their diet.
On the contrary, pre-formed vitamin A is found in animal-based products like dairy, liver, and egg yolk. Because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, toxicity in vitamin A can develop if eaten in excess. However, this is rarely an issue unless you consume a LOT of liver every day.
Animal-based Vitamin A comes in the form of Retinoids. Retinoic acid plays a vital role in cellular differentiation. The Retinol equivalent helps in comparing the effectiveness of different sources of Vitamin A.
While people talk about the fact that plant-based vitamin A is not as bioavailable, this rate-limiting step may be beneficial because it is possible to exceed the recommended upper limit for vitamin A with a nutrient-dense diet.
However, the reduced bioavailability of vitamin A from plant-based foods may be an issue if you rely on a highly processed grain-based diet with minimal animal products or leafy veggies.
As noted above, although it’s rare, you can get excessive levels of pre-formed vitamin A from animal products such as liver. Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so it is harder to excrete than water-soluble vitamins.
Some animals, like seals, polar bears, halibut, and huskies, have very high levels of vitamin A in their livers. There have been reports of hypervitaminosis A when hungry and dehydrated explorers consume these animals’ livers. Otherwise, significant cases of hypervitaminosis A from whole foods are rare. Most people don’t eat that much liver!
The Upper Limit set for vitamin A (3,000 mcg) is based on abnormal liver pathology in adults and developmental issues in babies of women taking excess supplementary pre-formed vitamin A.
It is relatively easy to consume vitamin A intake above the Upper Limit. However, this is unlikely to be a concern from plant foods as the conversion of provitamin vitamin A is not easily converted to retinol. However, if most of your vitamin A is coming from liver, you may want to back off the liver if you’re regularly exceeding 3000 mcg per day.
Taking excessive amounts of supplemental vitamin A for long periods can cause fatigue, hair loss, nausea, peeling of the skin, cracked lips, and headaches. As you can see, many symptoms of excess mirror those of deficiency.
Your vitamin A intake may be excessive if it comes exclusively from animal-based foods. However, this is unlikely to be a concern unless you consume a LOT of raw liver.
High levels of provitamin vitamin A (plant forms) from a nutrient-dense diet are unlikely to be a concern because the body will not convert more pre-formed vitamin A (from plant-based foods) to provitamin A than it needs. In addition, you will lose your taste for more liver once your Vitamin A stores are replete and are therefore unlikely to consume excessive Vitamin A from food.
Although harmless, higher doses of vitamin A can give your skin a yellow or orange tint. This is known as carotenosis. Essentially, you will look like a carrot from getting too many carotenoids after eating too many carrots.
While vitamin A in your diet is critical to supporting healthy immune function, you should be careful supplementing high levels of pre-formed vitamin A. High amounts of vitamin A have the potential to overstimulate your immune system and trigger a ‘cytokine storm’, which causes hyperinflation in the lungs, breathing difficulties, and even death.
Vitamin A is a catalyst for many processes in foetal development, regulating various timed actions that are important for a growing baby. Thus, if a pregnant woman or a woman trying to become pregnant takes vitamin A, it can contribute to congenital disabilities if taken in excess.
Does Vitamin A Help Your Skin and Acne?
Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin and the management of acne. One of the most popular treatments for severe acne is Accutane, a synthetic mega-dosed version of a derivative of vitamin A known as a retinoid.
Females commencing Accutane therapy have to ensure that there is no chance of becoming pregnant while taking Accutane due to the risk of congenital disabilities with excessive amounts of supplemental vitamin A.
If you’re into the beauty world, you may have encountered popular skin creams called ‘retinoid creams’. These use similar compounds to Accutane, as these are essentially synthetic forms of vitamin A.
How Can I Increase My Vitamin A Intake?
Increasing your vitamin A game doesn’t have to mean eating loads of liver.
By incorporating vitamin A-rich nutrient-dense plant and animal foods like eggs, dairy, ghee, and seafood daily, it should become easy to increase your vitamin A levels over time.
Consuming vitamin A-rich foods, whether plant or animal, with a little fat, can aid the absorption of this fat-soluble nutrient.
Vitamin A works synergistically with vitamins B2, B3, B12, C, D, and E, magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, tyrosine, and zinc.
For this reason, it’s best to consume vitamin A from vitamin A-rich foods to ensure you’re consuming the entire complex of synergistic nutrients.
Isolated supplements only supply vitamin A, making it hard for it to execute its functions on its own.
Curious about your vitamin A intake? Take our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge and discover if you’re hitting the vitamin A sweet spot in your diet.
You’ll receive a curated list of foods and tantalising NutriBooster recipes that not only fill your vitamin A gaps but also ensure you’re not missing out on critical nutrients.
Ready to unlock your nutrient potential? Join the challenge and embark on a journey towards a brighter, healthier you!
Nutrient Density Starter Pack
Ready to supercharge your nutrition? Get our Nutrient Density Starter Pack – your all-access pass to a healthier, more vibrant you!
In our quest to make Nutritional Optimization a breeze, we’re thrilled to offer you this treasure trove of tools and resources when you join our vibrant Optimising Nutrition Community:
- Food Lists: Discover our carefully crafted lists optimised for each essential nutrient, tailored to your goals, preferences, and unique conditions.
- The Healthiest Meal Plan in the World: Peek into a week of mouthwatering, nutrient-dense meals that’ll leave you satisfied and energised.
- Recipes: Download delectable samples from our NutriBooster recipe books, designed to elevate your nutrition while tantalising your taste buds.
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Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to transform your nutrition effortlessly. Join our community and unlock your path to a healthier, more vibrant you!
- Biotin (B7)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (B9)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K1
- Vitamin K2