Most of the times, we hear people saying to include Vitamin A foods for improving vision. Did you know what is the important element behind that helps in keeping eyes healthy. Let us understand the importance of Vitamin A and the important foods rich in vitamin A for a healthy living.
Vitamin A is a group of antioxidant compounds required for keeping the body healthy. A diet rich in vitamin A can prevent night blindness, dry eyes and eye inflammation. It also promotes bone growth, keeps the immune system strong and maintains a vigorous reproductive system.
Types of Vitamin A:
There are two main types of vitamin A- retinol and provitamin carotenoids.
Vitamin A derived from animal sources is called retinol. This “pre formed” vitamin can be used directly by the body. The best sources of retinol are beef, chicken and turkey liver, whole milk and cheese.
2. Provitamin Carotenoids:
This vitamin A is obtained from colorful fruits and vegetables. The carotenoids are converted to retinol by body soon after the food is digested. The best sources of carotenoids are sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale and cantaloupes.
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):
Vitamin A is measured in International Units (IU). An average adult needs 5000 IU of vitamin A per day. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin A for an adult man is 900 milligrams and for women is 700 milligrams.
Deficiency of Vitamin A:
A deficiency in vitamin A is rare, but it is often seen among the poor in the developing countries. Lack of vitamin A can lead to blindness, retinal damage and corneal ulcer. Increased viral infections and respiratory illness are also possible health risks associated with vitamin A deficiency.
Conversely, an excess consumption of vitamin A can lead to jaundice, irritability, loss of appetite, hair loss and nausea.
Top 20 Vitamin A Rich Foods:
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and should be consumed with fat for optimal absorption. It is best obtained from a healthy and balanced diet. Fortunately, vitamin A can be found in abundant amounts in many fruits, vegetables, fish and dairy products. Below is the list of foods rich in vitamin A that you can include in your diet.
Carrot is the first food that comes to our mind when we talk about vitamin A rich foods. The vitamin A in carrot comes in the form of beta-carotene, a healthy antioxidant. Eating plenty of carrots every day can improve your vision greatly. One carrot will provide 7835 IU of vitamin A and 100 grams serving provides 17033 IU of this essential vitamin. Carrots are a great source of vitamin B, C, K, fiber and magnesium as well. Be careful while purchasing carrots as they contain high amounts of pesticide residue. Try to purchase organic carrots if possible. You can eat the carrots frozen, cooked or raw to obtain its benefits. Alternatively, pop some baby carrots with a few tablespoons of hummus and guacamole for a healthy and a light afternoon snack.
[ Read: 10 Vitamin B1 Rich Foods ]
2. Sweet Potato:
Sweet potato is enjoyed widely for its delightful taste and high nutrient content. It is arguably the best source of vitamin A. 100 grams serving of sweet potato provides 19218 IU of vitamin A, amounting to a whopping 384% of the daily value. A cup of cooked, frozen sweet potato provides 578% of the daily value of vitamin A, while canned sweet potato provides 444%. This low calorie vegetable adds just 103 calories to your diet. Slice the sweet potatoes and drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper and chili powder. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and the delicious sweet potato chips are ready to eat.
3. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables:
Eating high amounts of green leafy vegetable is beneficial for several reasons. They are low in calories, high in nutrients and are extremely easy to prepare. Green leafy vegetables like collard, spinach, mustard and dandelion green, and kale are some excellent sources of vitamin A. A cup of cooked kale provides 17707 IU of vitamin A, while spinach provides 377% of the daily value. Collards contain plenty of beta-carotene with just 31 calories a cup. A cup of chopped mustard greens can help you meet 118% of the daily value of vitamin A. One cup of dandelion green provides over 100% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A. Green leafy vegetables are a source of several nutrients like vitamin C, K, potassium, folate, phosphorus, fiber, calcium, protein, manganese and folate. Green leafy vegetables are best consumed raw, but mustard greens should be eaten cooked so that the body can absorb all the vital nutrients.
Raw or cooked, squash is an extremely flavorful and nutritious food. The vegetable is high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. A half cup of canned pumpkin provides 953 milligrams of vitamin A and just 42 calories. 100 grams of cooked butternut squash provide 11155 UI of the daily value of vitamin A. Other squashes rich in vitamin A are Hubbard and pumpkin. Squash is also a good source of vitamin C, manganese, magnesium and fiber.
Lettuce is much more than a common salad garnish. This nutrient rich, leafy vegetable deserves a solid place in your diet. The light green variety of iceberg lettuce is filled with high amounts of vitamin A. 1 cup of shredded iceberg lettuce provides 361 IU of vitamin A and just 10 calories. A cup of Romaine lettuce provides 8710 IU of vitamin A per cup. The other types of lettuce high in vitamin A are red leaf, chicory, green leaf and butter head. Almost all the varieties of lettuce can help you meet more than half the recommended value of vitamin A. So add some lettuce to your salads and sandwiches to increase your vitamin A levels.
6. Dried Fruits:
Dried fruits are healthy on-the-go snacking option. Dried fruits like prunes, apricots and peaches are a great source of vitamin A. Apricot contains the highest levels of vitamin A out of all the dried fruits. A 100 grams serving provides 12669 IU of vitamin A, more than 200% of the daily-recommended value. Prunes provide 24%, while dried peaches provide 17% of the daily value of vitamin A. Dried fruits can help boost the energy, antioxidants and nutrient levels as well.
Cantaloupe is a low calorie vegetarian source of vitamin A. 100 grams of cantaloupe can help you meet 68% of the daily value of vitamin A. It contains around 3382 IU of vitamin A. A medium cantaloupe contains 23 calories and just 0.1 grams of fat. This juicy melon will pair best with ricotta cheese. Enjoy this succulent fruit in salads, as an evening snack or for an after dinner dessert. It will also make a great post-workout recovery snack.
8. Bell Peppers:
Bell pepper is another excellent source of vitamin A. 1 cup chopped red bell peppers can contribute 4665 IU of vitamin A, almost 100% of the daily-recommended value. Green bell peppers provide 12 % and yellow bell peppers can help you meet 7% of the daily value of vitamin A. Bell peppers are also rich in antioxidant like lycopene, phytochemicals, vitamin C and calcium. So, add a few slices of bell pepper to your dishes to enhance its nutritional value and taste. This versatile vegetable can be enjoyed in salads, eggs, and pizza and pasta dishes. You can even eat it plain or with a vegetable and cream dip.
[ Read: 20 Vitamin C Rich Foods ]
Seafood like tuna, oyster, salmon, sturgeon and mackerel are some good sources of vitamin A in animal-based foods. One 100 grams tuna fillet can help you meet 50% of the daily value. Sturgeon and mackerel provide 15% of the daily-recommended value of vitamin A. Oyster is another nutritional powerhouse. An ounce serving of oyster can provide 8% of the daily value of vitamin A. Sea food is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids that play a vital role in retinal health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration. It is also rich in niacin, which can help to reduce the risk of cataracts. Aim to eat at least two servings of seafood every week.
Mango is a sweet and juicy fruit that finds its place in both main dishes and dessert plate. This delicious tropical fruit is a storehouse of several important nutrients and can form an important addition to a healthy and balanced diet. A medium sized mango provides 3636 IU of vitamin A, equaling to 73% of the daily value.
Papaya is another tropical fruit containing moderate amounts of vitamin A. A small papaya contributes 30% of the daily value of vitamin A. Papaya is also high in several vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. This tasty fruit will make a great addition to your fruit salads and smoothies.
12. Cod Liver Oil:
Cod liver oil supplements are usually taken as a source of vitamin D. However, it is an excellent source of vitamin D as well. Cod liver oil is available in both oil and capsule form. Take a teaspoon of cod liver oil daily to meet 280% of the daily value of vitamin A.
[ Read: 20 Vitamin D Rich Foods ]
13. Turkey Liver:
Turkey liver can be used in a variety of ways. It will make a great addition to your gravy and for stuffing the chicken breast. Turkey liver is a surprising source of several essential vitamins and minerals. A 100 grams serving of turkey liver can provide you with an incredible 1507% of the daily value of vitamin A. 100 grams of turkey liver provides 75333 IU of vitamin A and 273 calories.
Paprika is commonly used to spice up bland dishes. Besides adding taste to the meals, paprika also provides excellent amounts of vitamin A. One tablespoon of paprika provides 3448 IU of vitamin A, almost 70% of the daily value. Paprika is also a great source of vitamin C, potassium and calcium. Incorporate 1 tablespoon of this fiery spice in your diet to enjoy several health benefits.
15. Whole Milk:
People usually opt for whole milk instead of skim milk for its rich taste and plenty of nutrients. A cup of whole milk can provide you with both vitamin A and D. One cup serving provides 395 IU of vitamin A and 146 calories. It also contains protein, calcium and magnesium. Remember, whole fat milk is high in fat and calories, so you should consume in moderation.
16. Dried Herbs:
Herbs are extremely versatile. They are another great foods rich in vitamin A. You can add them in nearly all your savory dishes. Marjoram herb is one of the best herbs for boosting your vitamin A levels. 100 grams of marjoram herb can provide 8068 IU of vitamin A and 271 calories. A 100 grams serving of dried basil can provide 15% of the daily-recommended amount of vitamin A. It provides 744 IU of vitamin A and 251 calories. Sprinkle the herbs over your foods for an easy and effortless boost in your vitamin A levels.
Sweet peas can do wonders to your health, including helping you meet your daily recommended amount of vitamin A. One serving of peas provides 134% of the daily recommend value of vitamin A with just 60 calories. This delicious vegetable also provides the body with vitamin C, K and B as well.
Tomatoes are low in calories and high in several vitamins and minerals. Just one medium sized tomato can provide you with 20% of your daily value of vitamin A. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and lycopene as well.
This succulent fruit is rich in several essential nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Besides these nutrients, peaches also provide the body with 10% of the daily value of vitamin A.
Lean beef is another excellent source of vitamin A. A 100 grams serving can help you get 90% of the daily vitamin A need. Beef is also rich in zinc, a mineral that helps the body to absorb antioxidant and fight several diseases. Make sure you pick the leanest meat from the grocery to reduce the total amount of saturated fat in your diet. Not just the meat, beef liver also supplies more than 30% of your necessary vitamin A intake.
Vitamin A Content of Some Common Foods
|Food||Serving Size||Vitamin A (mcg) RAE|
|Sweet potato, with skin, cooked||1 medium||1096|
|Pumpkin, canned||125 mL (½ cup)||1007|
|Carrot juice||125 mL (½ cup)||966|
|Carrots, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||653-709|
|Squash, butternut, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||604|
|Swiss chard, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||566|
|Carrots, baby, raw||8 carrots (80 g)||552|
|Collards, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||406-516|
|Carrot, raw||1 medium (61g)||509|
|Kale, fresh or frozen, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||468-505|
|Spinach, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||498|
|Turnip greens, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||290-466|
|Vegetable and fruit juice cocktail||125 mL (½ cup)||267|
|Lettuce, romaine||250 mL (1 cup)||258|
|Lettuce, red leaf||250 mL (1 cup)||218|
|Bok choy, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||190|
|Rapini, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||150|
|Red peppers, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||106|
|Apricots, dried||60 mL (¼ cup)||191|
|Apricot, canned||125 mL (½ cup)||169|
|Cantaloupe, raw||125 mL (½ cup)||143|
|Grain Products||This food group contains very little of this nutrient.|
|Milk and Alternatives|
|Goat, hard||50 g (1 ½ oz)||243|
|Processed, cheddar, fat free||50 g (1 ½ oz)||220|
|Goat, semi-soft||50 g (1 ½ oz)||204|
|Muenster, neufchatel, gruyere, cheddar, Colby||50 g (1 ½ oz)||132-158|
|Ricotta||125 mL (½ cup)||140-156|
|Blue/roquefort||50 g (1 ½ oz)||99-147|
|Processed cheese slices, cheddar||125|
|Skim, 1%, 2%, chocolate milk||250 mL (1 cup)||137-163|
|3.3% homo||250 mL (1 cup)||119|
|Soy beverage||250 mL (1 cup)||103-104|
|Meat and Alternatives|
|Liver, turkey, cooked*||75 g (2 ½ oz)||16950|
|Liver, veal, cooked*||75 g (2 ½ oz)||15052-15859|
|Giblets, turkey, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||8053|
|Liver, beef, cooked*||75 g (2 ½ oz)||5808-7082|
|Liver, lamb, cooked*||75 g (2 ½ oz)||5618-5836|
|Liver, pork, cooked*||75 g (2 ½ oz)||4054|
|Liver, chicken, cooked*||75 g (2 ½ oz)||3222|
|Fish and Seafood|
|Eel, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||853|
|Tuna, Bluefin, raw or cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||491-568|
|Herring, pickled||75 g (2 ½ oz)||194|
|Mackerel, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||189|
|Clams, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||128|
|Salmon, Chinook, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||112 -118|
|Oysters, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||110|
|Bluefish, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||104|
|Egg, cooked||2 large||190-252|
|Fats and Oils|
|Cod liver oil||5 mL (1 tsp)||1382|
|Source – dietitians.ca|
Hope you got a good idea on the rich Vitamin A food sources. Will you include them now in your daily diet to reap the amazing benefits? Feel free to share your thoughts with us if any. We would love to see your responses.