42 Foods Rich In Vitamin A
835 μg / 100g
Carrots are well known for being incredibly rich sources of vitamin A, but you'd be amazed to discover that a single cup of these delicious vegetables contains more than four times the daily requirement! They are also incredibly versatile and work well as a snack with hummus, blended into smoothies and added to recipes like chilli and soup.
2. Sweet Potato
709 μg / 100g
An average sized sweet potato can contain as much as 369% of the daily requirement of vitamin A! Sweet potatoes are delicious baked as an alternative to regular jacket potatoes, but they also work very well in curries and soups, or as a far more nutritious and healthier version of chips when baked.
655 μg / 100g
Tuna is a popular and versatile fish that is very good for our health. It can be used in wraps and sandwiches, flaked through salad and grilled as a steak to serve with vegetables. Being quite low in fat and high in protein also makes tuna an excellent weight loss food and allows it to support a healthy heart.
4. Dandelion Greens
508 μg / 100g
Whilst these weeds may be the bane of many a gardener's life, they definitely deserve more respect because they not only provide an amazing abundance of vitamins and minerals, including 112% of the daily allowance of vitamin A per cup, but they taste great too! Dandelion greens can be used in soups, risotto and even used to make pesto.
500 μg / 100g
Often referred to as nature's multivitamin, a single cup of kale contains more than twice the daily requirement of vitamin A, as well as very good levels of most other nutrients. Kale is an easy vegetable to incorporate into the diet, be it tossed through salads, pasta and stir fries, or used to make savoury tasting smoothies.
469 μg / 100g
Spinach is an excellent vegetable to use in green smoothies, pasta sauces and curries because it is incredibly mild in flavour and contains a good dose of most of the essential vitamins and minerals that we need; this is excellent news for parents of fussy children. A cup of spinach contains about 56% of the daily requirement of vitamin A.
426 μg / 100g
Being an orange vegetable, pumpkin is packed with beta-carotene that the body can convert into vitamin A. Indeed, a single cup of pumpkin can contain the equivalent of 171% of the daily requirement of vitamin A. Pumpkin can be diced and added to hearty winter stews and casseroles, or roasted and blended to make a warming soup.
370 μg / 100g
Generally speaking, cos or romaine lettuce tends to have the highest levels of vitamin A, providing around 82% of the daily requirement per cup. Lettuce is traditionally used in salads, but can also provide the green base to green smoothies and can be used in place of tacos and nachos for stuffing with ingredients or using with dips.
9. Swiss chard
306 μg / 100g
Popular in Mediterranean cuisine, Swiss chard is a leafy vegetable that not only tastes delicious, but looks amazing on the plate as well, thanks to its colourful stalks that come in a range of reds, oranges and yellows. Swiss chard can be used in gratin, sauteed and used as a side dish and even added to quiche.
10. Collard Greens
251 μg / 100g
Collard greens can help lower cholesterol and protect against cancer, making them a foodstuff that should definitely be included in the diet. They are also an abundant source of many vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health, including 80% of the daily requirement of vitamin A per cup. Enjoy them steamed as a side dish or blend them into soups.
11. Bok Choy
223 μg / 100g
Sometimes referred to as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is a primary ingredient in many stir fry recipes, normally being thrown in at the last minute to avoid losing too many nutrients during the cooking process. Bok choy can also be used in soups like chicken noodle soup or broth.
169 μg / 100g
Cantaloupe is packed full of nutrients that will keep you in good shape, including 120% of your daily requirement of vitamin A per cup. You can enjoy cantaloupe as a snack or as part of a fruit salad, but should also try freezing it in chunks to add to smoothies or for making healthy ice drinks.
160 μg / 100g
A single cup of watercress contains about 22% of the daily allowance of vitamin A, as well as plenty of other essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs to be healthy. Watercress makes a delicious soup, but can also be added to salad or chucked into stir fries.
160 μg / 100g
Eggs are an excellent source of many important nutrients, as well as being an exceptionally versatile ingredient that can allow you to whip up a healthy meal in a matter of minutes. Enjoy them scrambled, poached, soft boiled or in an omelette with vegetables. They also make an excellent post-exercise snack, containing a good dose of protein to help build and repair muscle.
15. Mustard Greens
151 μg / 100g
These peppery winter vegetables are ideal for adding to hearty soups and stews because they provide a wonderful flavour that really helps to warm you up. And whilst mustard greens might not look very impressive, their nutritional content really is! Indeed, they provide impressive doses of many essential nutrients, including around 118% of the daily requirement of vitamin A per cup.
16. Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)
131 μg / 100g
More commonly referred to as rapini, broccoli rabe is a cruciferous vegetable that looks like a smaller version of broccoli. It is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, with a one cup serving containing about 21% of the daily requirement. Broccoli rabe is delicious in stir fry and works very well in vegetable mornay.
119 μg / 100g
Arugula is more commonly known as salad rocket and has a peppery flavour that lends itself very well to green salads. It is low in calories and high in nutrients, making it an excellent green vegetable for people trying to maintain a healthy weight and diet. Arugula can also be stirred through curries and pasta sauce.
108 μg / 100g
There are a number of varieties of endive available to buy, but they are all delicious and good for health. Whilst endive is commonly used in salads, its leaves can be stuffed with numerous fillings in place of tacos or wraps and it tastes equally delicious roasted or grilled with spices and herbs like garlic or cumin and served with red meats.
96 μg / 100g
Being the smaller cousins of peaches, apricots have slightly fuzzy skin and a delicious flavour that is not too sweet or sour, lending themselves very well to meat dishes like lamb tagine and chicken curry. When dried, apricots also provide a wonderfully chewy snack that is packed full of goodness like vitamin A, potassium and magnesium.
83 μg / 100g
Being related to garlic and onions, leeks provide recipes with a wonderful flavour that resembles something of a cross between the two vegetables, although far milder and better suited to those palates that struggle with overpowering flavours. Leeks are delicious in soups and really help to make a bolognaise sauce come alive. They also work brilliantly in place of onion in quiche.
68 μg / 100g
There are a variety of squashes available to buy that can be roasted and blended into soups, diced and added to pasta, curry or casseroles, or mashed and served as a side dish. The levels of nutrients available in squash vary, however a cup of squash can contain between 5% and 32% of the daily requirement of vitamin A, depending on the type of squash.
22. Passion Fruit
64 μg / 100g
It is amazing how the tiny seeds of the passion fruit provide such a pungent and aromatic flavour to dishes, but they really do. Passion fruit seeds can enhance the flavour of fruit salads and taste divine when stirred through Greek yogurt, but they also work surprisingly well in recipes like lamb tagine and sweet and sour dishes.
64 μg / 100g
Being a source of powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins, cherries provide some amazing benefits to health. Sour cherries, in particular, have a good level of most vitamins & minerals, providing far more vitamin A per cup than their sweeter cousins. Cherries are delicious as snacks on their own or when chopped and stirred through yogurt.
24. Chilli Peppers
59 μg / 100g
Chilli peppers are commonly used for making various types of chilli, however they also add a fiery kick to salsa, guacamole and hummus. These powerful little vegetables provide amazing benefits to health that include helping to reduce inflammation and pain. A single pepper will also provide you with between 9% and 11% of the daily requirement of vitamin A.
54 μg / 100g
Like many orange fruits and vegetables, mangoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene which the body converts into vitamin A. They also provide a good dose of dietary fiber which supports digestive health. Mangoes taste great in fruit salad, provide a creaminess to smoothies and can be frozen in chunks to eat as a cold treat on hot days in place of ice cream.
50 μg / 100g
Mackerel has quite an intense flavour that lends itself very well to smoky, aromatic dishes that aren't well suited to blander varieties of fish. Traditionally, mackerel is smoked and eaten for breakfast with poached eggs or used to make kedgeree, but it also tastes delicious flaked through a rice salad or added to fish stews and paella.
50 μg / 100g
For those who like a milder onion flavour, scallions are the answer! Often referred to as spring onions, they are not as strong as their cousins, yet can provide a delicious flavour to salads, risottos and stir fries. Scallions are also a good source of vitamin A, with one cup providing around 20% of the daily allowance.
48 μg / 100g
Fennel tastes truly divine when tossed through a green salad with a simple lemon juice, salt and pepper dressing; it also adds a delicious aniseed flavour to beef or lamb casserole and vegetable lasagne. This aromatic vegetable also provides reliable amounts of nearly every vitamin and mineral our bodies need to stay healthy.
48 μg / 100g
Mussels are a cheap way to get many important nutrients into the body and they are more environmentally friendly and sustainable than many other varieties of seafood. They make a tasty addition to gumbo, as well as corn chowder, and also work well stirred through paella or seafood risotto.
47 μg / 100g
When dried, papaya is a truly delicious snack to have available, providing a wonderful sugar hit for children that is far healthier than the many refined sugar products available. Papaya can also be frozen in chunks and used to make cooling smoothies or healthy sorbets. A single cup of papaya fruit also provides around a third of the daily requirement of vitamin A.
46 μg / 100g
The level of vitamin A available in grapefruit depends greatly on the variety you choose to eat. The white-fleshed grapefruits tend to have about 2% of the daily requirement of vitamin A per cup, compared to red or pink grapefruits which have around 53%. Grapefruit has many health benefits and is delicious in fruit salads, but can also work quite well in some savoury dishes, especially when paired with sharp-tasting cheese.
42 μg / 100g
The levels of vitamin A available in tomatoes depends greatly on the variety of tomato, but generally speaking a cup of red cherry tomatoes contains 25% of the daily allowance, a cup of chopped red tomatoes contains about 30% and a cup of chopped orange tomatoes contains about 47%. Tomatoes are delicious in salads, pasta and to top home made pizza.
39 μg / 100g
It is well known that prunes have positive effects on digestive health, but they are also understood to help support a healthy cardiovascular system and general health thanks to the high levels of nutrients they contain. Prunes can be used in lamb tagine, stuffed with strong cheese and served as an entrée or simply enjoyed as a snack.
38 μg / 100g
The best time to enjoy asparagus is when it is in season, the difference in flavour is amazing! Asparagus makes a wonderful side dish to fish and poultry, but is also a delicious alternative to toast for dipping into soft boiled eggs for breakfast. A cup of asparagus spears will provide around 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin A.
35. Brussels Sprouts
38 μg / 100g
Brussel sprouts can be fried off with bacon, chestnuts and onions to make a delicious addition to the Sunday dinner table, but they also work very well in soups, providing a bitter, earthy flavour. Even people who don't like their taste will be unable to resist them once they are roasted because roasting brings out the sweet, nutty flavour of sprouts.
38 μg / 100g
Peas are often overlooked as being important for good health in favour of seemingly more impressive superfoods like kale or garlic, however these humble vegetables pack an amazing nutritional punch, providing generous doses of nearly every vitamin and mineral our bodies need. They are also very versatile and can be added to almost any recipe, be it salad, curry, stir fry or even pasta sauce.
37. Cottage Cheese
37 μg / 100g
Cottage cheese is an excellent weight loss food because it is low in calories, but high in protein and calcium that help you to feel fuller for longer and promote proper bone and muscle growth. It is often served as an alternative to cheese on jacket potatoes and also works well when paired with fruit like pineapple.
36 μg / 100g
Many people don't have a clue what to use okra for beyond adding it to gumbo for its thickening qualities. That said, there are a number of delicious ways to add this nutritious vegetable in the diet including pickling it for snacking and adding to salads, frying it to use in a warm salad and grilling it to use for dipping in sauces.
39. Green Beans
35 μg / 100g
Green beans are very versatile vegetables; they can be lightly steamed and served as a side dish, chucked into stir fries, or chopped and used in place of peas in dishes like cottage pie. Green beans are also a good source of vitamin A, providing around 15% of the daily requirement per one cup serving.
34 μg / 100g
Tangerines are most commonly eaten as a snack or added to fruit salads. They have a wonderful tangy, citrus flavour that also lends itself well to home made juices and smoothies. And for a healthier version of jelly, you can juice some tangerines and then use gelatine to make a healthy, no added sugar treat that children will love.
31 μg / 100g
One cup of broccoli will provide around 11% of the daily requirement of vitamin A, as well as numerous other vitamins and minerals. It is best served steamed as a side dish, but is equally delicious when stirred through homemade macaroni cheese or chopped up for use in savoury mince dishes like cottage pie.
31 μg / 100g
The most commonly consumed guava, the common guava, contains the highest levels of vitamin A compared to the strawberry guava, although both varieties have their merits. Being a sweet, fragrant fruit, guava is delicious in fruit salad, however it can also be turned into a sticky sauce that works very well in many Caribbean style dishes, especially those involving white meats.
About Vitamin A
Vitamin A refers to a group of compounds called retinoids; they are fat soluble, meaning they can be stored in the body and used as necessary, especially during periods of low dietary vitamin A.
There are two main types of vitamin A that are available to us in dietary form and they are:
- preformed vitamin A such as retinol, which is found in meat, dairy and eggs
- provitamin A carotenoids like beta-carotene that tend to be found in plant-based foods
This important vitamin plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy vision and protecting the eyes from damage because it is an essential building block of a compound called rhodopsin, a protein that allows the retina to effectively absorb light.
Vitamin A also helps with proper development of cells and the maintenance of major organs such as the heart and lungs.
Why Is Vitamin A Important?
Vitamin A is important for helping to maintain healthy vision and preventing age-related macular degeneration. Indeed, there are a few studies that show how important vitamin A consumption is in helping to maintain healthy vision including a 2012 study. The study showed how post-bariatric patients who were experiencing a vitamin A deficiency and, therefore, impaired vision, made almost complete recoveries after supplementation with vitamin A.
At present there is a mixed bag of views regarding the effectiveness of vitamin A in helping to prevent certain types of cancer, some studies have shown that it is not remotely effective, whilst others show that it is. That said, a 2014 review looked into the effects of vitamin A supplementation on the risk of developing bladder cancer. The conclusion drawn was that vitamin A is highly effective at reducing this risk, although the researchers agree that further investigation needs to be conducted in this area.
Measles can be a debilitating childhood disease that can result in death, especially in developing countries, but a Cochrane review found that supplementation with extremely high doses of vitamin A for two days did significantly reduce the number of children under the age of two who died from the disease, as well as helping to reduce the instances of adverse effects from measles.
RAE is the abbreviation for “Retinol Activity Equivalents” and refers to the fact that the bioavailability of vitamin A varies depending upon the source.
RAE allows for a general guideline to be created in relation to the amount of Vitamin A that your body needs from all sources, since the body converts all forms of vitamin A into retinol regardless of the source. One RAE is equivalent to one microgram of retinol.
For infants under the age of twelve months there is no set guideline, only a suggested adequate intake of 400mcg RAE of vitamin A per day for those under six months and 500mcg RAE per day for those between the ages of seven and twelve months.
Between the ages of one and thirteen years old, the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A is the same for both male and female youngsters. Children between the ages of one and three years should be getting around 300mcg RAE per day of vitamin A, four to eight year olds need about 400mcg RAE and nine to thirteen year olds require 600mcg RAE.
From the age of fourteen onwards, all males require around 900mcg RAE of vitamin A per day; for females the guideline is 700mcg RAE, except when pregnant or breastfeeding.
Young women aged between fourteen and eighteen who are pregnant should be getting around 750mcg RAE a day; those who are breastfeeding need about 1,200mcg RAE.
Women who are nineteen years or older and pregnant require about 770mcg RAE whilst breastfeeding women need around 1,300mcg RAE.
Vitamin A Deficiency And Inadequacy
Generally speaking, a deficiency of vitamin A is incredibly rare in developed countries and tends to be an issue for people in developing nations. That said, there are groups of people in developed countries who are at risk of experiencing inadequate levels of vitamin A and they include:
- Premature Babies – most instances of vitamin A inadequacies occur during the early stages of life for infants born in developing countries, especially premature babies. Such babies have very limited stores of vitamin A in their liver and their levels of retinol tend to remain low throughout the first year of life.
- Infants, Young Children and New Mothers in Developing Countries – because access to foods containing sources of vitamin A is limited in poorer countries, many pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are unable to provide their babies with the necessary vitamins in their breastmilk; they, themselves, are also likely to experience inadequate levels of vitamin A. These issues can continue on into early childhood.
- People with Cystic Fibrosis – vitamin A is a fat soluble compound that is absorbed by the body and converted into retinol, but people who have cystic fibrosis are usually unable to properly absorb fat thanks to issues with their pancreas. This in turn can lead to an inadequacy in the levels of vitamin A in their bodies.
The most common symptom associated with vitamin A deficiency or inadequacy is called xerophthalmia, which is responsible for causing night blindness. A deficiency in vitamin A can also lead to low levels of iron in the bloodstream and increases the risk of death from infections like measles.
Risks And Warnings
It is worth noting that because vitamin A is fat soluble, it can be stored in the body for use at times when dietary vitamin A is lacking, which does mean that there is the risk of overdosing. However, occasional instances of consuming too much vitamin A are unlikely to cause issues, but consistently consuming too much vitamin A can result in symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, pain in the bones and joints, intracranial pressure, coma and even death.
Overdosing on vitamin A is actually quite difficult to do unless there is regular consumption of foods with high levels of it, however people who regularly take supplements, in particular supplements with high doses of vitamin A, are the ones most at risk of experiencing unsafe levels and the associated conditions.
It is understood that the beta-carotene forms of vitamin A, which are found primarily in plant-based foods, are not associated with adverse effects, instead it is the preformed vitamin A that is present in meat, eggs and dairy products that can cause toxicity.
There are also certain medications that can interact negatively with vitamin A including some weight-loss medications and retinoids that are created from vitamin A and used to treat a range of conditions primarily relating to the skin. If you are in any doubt about the safety of using vitamin A supplements whilst taking certain medications, you should speak to your doctor.