Vitamin A Facts


What is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is needed for normal vision, immunity, growth and reproduction. It keeps the mucous linings of the respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts healthy to prevent bacteria and viruses from entering. Vitamin A in animal foods is already formed (preformed vitamin A). Vitamin A in colorful fruits and vegetables is in a form that can be converted to Vitamin A (provitamin A). Carotenoids, like beta-carotene, are examples of provitamin A.

Vitamin A requirements

The RDAs for healthy adults are 900 micrograms (mcg)/day for males and 700 mcg/day for females. The RDAs are listed in International Units (IU) on food and supplement labels. Adult men require 3000 IU/day and women need 2310 IU/day. There is no RDA for provitamin A. The upper tolerable intake level (UL) for vitamin A is set at 3,000 mcg/ day (or 10,000 IU) for all adults. The UL applies to supplements.

What happens when Vitamin A intake is too high?

In most cases, excess vitamin A is taken in the form of supplements. High storage levels of vitamin A can lead to problems with the liver, nervous system, bones and to birth defects. It is impossible to get excess provitamin A from plants. A high intake of provitamin A can turn the skin yellow, but it is not dangerous.

What happens when Vitamin A intake is too low?

Inadequate Vitamin A is associated with impaired immunity and resulting infections. Vitamin A deficiency is uncommon in developed countries. In the US, vitamin A deficiency is most often associated with strict dietary restrictions and excess alcohol intake.

Which foods are high in Vitamin A?

Pre-formed Vitamin A is found in the fat of milk and eggs and in liver. Provitamin A is found in dark green and bright orange vegetables and fruits like spinach, sweet potatoes carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, and others. Deeper colors are associated with higher levels.

List of foods high in Vitamin A

Grains

Vegetables

Fruit

Milk

Meat/Beans

Mixed Dishes

Misc.

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