Vitamin A Rich Foods

Anna Misztela

Posted on September 10 2020


This article will discuss the many benefits of Vitamin A rich foods. You know you need a balanced diet to stay healthy. What does that really mean? What you eat determines your overall health, along with exercise, healthy weight, environmental exposures and genetics. One of the greatest things you can do for your health is to eat a variety of foods that give your body what it needs to stay healthy, fight off disease, and keep organ systems running at peak performance. A balanced diet means getting your proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins that your body needs from your meals. These need to be in moderate and balanced amounts to keep your metabolic and cellular functions working properly.


The Science Behind Vitamin A


Vitamin A is used in cell growth and development. Vitamin A is also one of the antioxidant vitamins, which work to help protect the hair, skin, and nails from damaging free radicals.  You may have heard Vitamin A referred to with different names. Retinol, beta-carotene, carotenoids are some other names that can be used in describing Vitamin A. Two main forms of Vitamin A exist in foods. Preformed Vitamin A (retinol and retinyl ester) and provitamin A cartenoids. These are metabolized differently, and both are important sources of Vitamin A in the diet.


Preformed Vitamin A is generally found in animal sources of Vitamin A, vitamin supplements and foods that have had Vitamin A fortified, including breakfast cereals and some dairy sources. Cartenoids are found in plant sources and include many fruits and vegetables. These forms are converted into a useable form of Vitamin A that is primarily stored in the liver. Both forms of Vitamin A are utilized effectively, and one is no better than the other. Eating a variety of both proteins and fruits and vegetables will ensure you have enough Vitamin A as well as all other essential vitamins and minerals. 


Foods Containing Vitamin A


There are plenty of foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin A, but unless you eat Lamb liver or King mackerel on a regular basis some of the foods can seem unfamiliar to many diets. What are some practical foods that are high in Vitamin A?


Yellow/orange fruits and vegetables




                Sweet potato 




                Tomato products

                Yellow squash


Leafy Greens


                Romaine lettuce



                Goat cheese

                Black eyed peas

                Egg yolk

                Beef liver


                Ricotta cheese


                Baked beans

                Pickled herring


Vitamin A deficiency is considered rare in the United States. Certain populations are at a greater risk of not receiving enough Vitamin A. Girls, African American children, Cystic-Fibrosis patients, restricted diets and any gastrointestinal absorption issues have all been identified as at risk for receiving lower amounts of Vitamin A in their everyday diets.


Food Preparation


The preparation method of various Vitamin A rich foods has come under scrutiny in the past. Is raw better than boiling? What happens if you overcook your roasted broccoli because that’s the only way you will eat broccoli? The different cooking methods can make the different forms of Vitamin A convert into different related chemical structures, but that is not always a bad thing. Cooking a tomato can release greater amounts of Vitamin A, but the same is not true for carrots. Overall frying vegetables appears to reduce the vitamin content consistently so this method should be used the least amount. Otherwise a balance of foods and cooking methods should provide adequate amounts of Vitamin A in your diet. 


Useful tip: For maximum absorption while eating Vitamin A you need a small amount of fat to be ingested at the same time. This can be a part of the food itself (goat cheese) or another food eaten at the same time.


A balanced diet of proteins, fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin A is important to your overall health. You do not have to eat loads of carrots to get enough Vitamin A (whew!). A variety of proteins, pantry staples, fruits and vegetables provide adequate amounts of your daily needs for Vitamin A.


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