Vitamin A is important for growth & development, immunity, vision, skin health, and the reproductive system. Adequate levels of vitamin A are also needed for healthy lungs, kidneys, and heart. Deficiency is rare in America, but is the leading cause of blindness in the world. Low levels are associated with keratosis pilaris, frequent infections, and poor night vision.
Vitamin A VS Provitamin A
Vitamin A is not just one molecule, it is actually a group of retinoid molecules made up of retinol, retinal, and retinyl esters. These are found in foods like organ meats, fish, eggs, and dairy.
In plant-based foods, you can find provitamin A which can be converted into vitamin A by enzymes in the body. Provitamin A is a group of carotenoid molecules including alpha carotene and beta carotene. These are found in orange fruits and vegetables and dark, leafy greens.
Foods High In Vitamin A
Retinol is found in organ meats, fish, eggs, and dairy. Here are some foods that are high in Vitamin A.
- Cod Liver Oil & Organ Meats
- BlueFin Tuna
- Salmon, Mackerel & Herring
Family Friendly Recipes Featuring Vitamin A
- Salmon in Parchment
- Roasted Mackerel with Garlic & Paprika
- Egg Recipes for Babies & Toddlers
- Nicoise Salad
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Foods High In Provitamin A
Alpha & Beta Carotene are found in orange fruits & vegetables. Here are the foods that are high in Provitamin A.
- Pumpkin & Butternut Squash
- Sweet Potato
- Apricots & Peaches
- Leafy greens
- Rose Hips
Family Friendly Recipes Featuring Provitamin A
- 5 Ways to Cook Carrots
- Mango Salad
- Healthy Pumpkin Overnight Oats
- Sweet Potato Toast
- Quick Collard Greens
Retinol Supplementation For Vegans & Vegetarians
The highest sources of retinol are in fish, dairy, and eggs. Alpha and beta carotene are found in fruits and vegetables and can both be turned into retinol by the body. However, some people have a genetic variant that impacts the conversion of carotenoids into active retinol which can result in vitamin A deficiency.
If foods high in retinol aren’t regularly eaten, supplementing with preformed retinol may be necessary. An integrative doctor with knowledge of genetic testing can help determine whether or not supplementary retinol is needed.
Vitamin A is important for growth, development, skin, vision, many vital organs and the immune system.
Retinol is the active form of vitamin A and is found in highest concentrations in organ meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Alpha and beta carotene are precursors of vitamin A and can be found in highest concentrations in orange fruits and vegetables and leafy greens. Some people may have trouble converting carotenoids into retinol because of their biochemistry and may require supplementation.
Borel, P., & Desmarchelier, C. (2017). Genetic Variations Associated with Vitamin A Status and Vitamin A Bioavailability. Nutrients, 9(3), 246.