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sources of vitamin A
Top sources of vitamin A

What is vitamin A? What are the sources of vitamin A? These are the top two questions many people ask daily about this all-important vitamin. This vitamin is involved in numerous bodily processes.

Function of vitamin A:

bowl of dried apricots overflowing on the table
Sources of vitamin A: Dried apricots

vision, growth, bone and tooth development, maintenance of the health of the skin and mucosa, and protection against cancer. Additionally, carotenes and carotenoids are antioxidants, so they protect the heart and the arteries.

Chemical composition of vitamin A: two substances are included under the name vitamin A:

  • Vitamin A itself: retinol and dehydroretinol. They are found in animal-based foods. In large amounts, they are toxic.
  • Provitamin A: carotenes and similar substances called carotenoids. There are about ten different carotenes, the most active of which is beta-carotene. They transform to vitamin A in the intestine, answering the body’s needs and presenting no risk of toxicity.
Best Sources of Vitamin A 1
Sources of vitamin A: Lamb’s lettuce

Sources of vitamin A

  • Vitamin A (retinol): animal liver and milk fat are the richest sources.
  • Provitamin A (carotenes and carotenoids): all red and orange vegetables, particularly carrots and peppers, and some dark green spinach.
  • Units of measurement: the amount of active vitamin A in foods is measured in micrograms of retinol equivalent (µg RE).
  • 1 µg RE= 1 µg of retinol = 6 µg of beta carotene = 12 µg of other carotenoids = 3.33 IU of vitamin A = 10 IU of carotenes 1 IU of vitamin A = 0.3 µg RE
Sweet corn     28.0 µg RE
Red tomato     62.0 µg RE
Loquat   153 µg RE
Broccoli   154 µg RE
Squash   160 µg RE
Lettuce   260 µg RE
Cantaloupe melon   322 µg RE
Mango   389 µg RE
Watercress   470 µg RE
Sweet red pepper   570 µg RE
Chard   610 µg RE
Spinach   672 µg RE
Lamb’s lettuce   709 µg RE
Dried apricot   724 µg RE
Corn oil margarine   799 µg RE
Carrot2,813 µg RE
Beef        0.000 µg RE
Pork        2.00 µg RE
Chicken      16.0 µg RE
Tuna, canned in oil      23.0 µg RE
Herring      28.0 µg RE
Whole cow’s milk      31.0 µg RE
Grouper      43.0 µg RE
Baked chicken      47.0 µg RE
Nonfat milk      61.0 µg RE
Sardine      70.0 µg RE
Fresh egg    191 µg RE
Whipping cream    421 µg RE
Butter    754 µg RE
Beef liver4,427 µg RE
%Daily Value (based on a 2000 calorie diet) provided by 100 g of this food

Plant-based foods provide more vitamin A than animal products, and without the risk of over-accumulation and toxic effects.

Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms:

Vision disorders, dry skin, and fetal developmental disorders.

Increased need:

Growth periods (children and adolescents), pregnancy, and nursing.

Loss during the processing of foods:

15% to 35% of the vitamin A is lost through cooking. Dehydration and exposure to light, particularly ultraviolet, destroy provitamin, and vitamin A. Freezing has little effect on vitamin A.


George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 1. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 389. Print. [sources of vitamin A]

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