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Top 10 Foods High in Vitamin A

Written by Daisy Whitbread, MScN
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Top 10 Foods High in Vitamin A

Vitamin A promotes good vision, gene transcription, better immune function, and great skin health.

A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to blindness and increased viral infection. However, deficiency is only considered a problem in developing countries where it is a leading cause of blindness in children.

Overconsumption of vitamin A can lead to jaundice, nausea, loss of appetite, irritability, vomiting, and even hair loss.

About The Types of Vitamin A and Retinol Equivalents

  • Vitamin A is available to humans in 2 ways: preformed vitamin A and carotenoids.
  • Carotenoids, like beta-carotene, are found in plant foods and have to be converted by the body into vitamin A. (2)
  • Preformed vitamin A is found in animal food sources like liver, meat, fish, and dairy. Like carotenoids, the preformed vitamin A also needs to be metabolized by the body into an active form of vitamin A. (2)
  • In rare cases certain people cannot convert carotenoids to vitamin A and should consume vitamin A found in animal food sources or supplements. These people should see our lists of meats high in vitamin A, fish high in vitamin A, and dairy foods high in vitamin A.
  • Solving the Vitamin A Problem: Since vitamin A comes in many forms, starting from July 2018 large US food producers will report vitamin A values in retinol activity equivalents (RAE) of vitamin A. The new daily value for Vitamin A RAE will be 900μg per day. (2,3)

High vitamin A foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, fish (tuna), winter squashes, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, lettuce, bell peppers, broccoli, and grapefruit. The current daily value for Vitamin A is 900μg of retinol activity equivalents (RAEs).

Below is a list high vitamin A foods, click here for over 200 foods high in vitamin A, sortable by common serving size, 200 calorie serving size, or 100 gram serving size.


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Foods High In Vitamin A

1Sweet Potato
Sweet Potato
A medium-sized baked sweet potato provides 122% DV of vitamin A.
2Carrots
Carrots
A medium sized carrot provides 44% DV of vitamin A.
3Tuna
Tuna Fillet

Other Fish and Seafood High in Vitamin A

-201%DV in a 5.5 oz fillet of eel
-150% DV in 1 tsp of cod liver oil
-36% DV in 20 small clams
-24% DV in 3oz of cooked mackerel
See the complete list of fish high in vitamin A.
4Butternut Squash
Half a Butternut Squash

Other Squash High in Vitamin A

-212% DV in 1 cup of canned pumpkin
-76% DV in 1 cup of hubbard squash
-59% DV per cup of average winter squash
-11% DV per cup of acorn squash

See the full list of vegetables high in vitamin A.
5Spinach
A Bowl of Spinach

Other Dark Leafy Greens High in vitamin A

-98% DV per cup of cooked kale
-96% DV per cup of cooked mustard greens
-80% DV per cup of cooked collards
-60% DV per cup of cooked Swiss chard
-40% DV per cup of cooked bok choy

See the full list of vegetables high in vitamin A.
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6Cantaloupe
A cantaloupe with a cantaloupe wedge

Other Fruits High in Vitamin A

-17% DV in 1 cup of apricots
-10% DV per cup of sliced mango
-8% DV per cup of sliced papaya

See the full list of fruits high in vitamin A.
7 Lettuce
Lettuce
8Red Bell Peppers
Sweet Bell Peppers
Cooked Green Bell Peppers provide 3% DV of Vitamin A per cup cooked.
9 Broccoli
Broccoli Stalk
10 Grapefruit
Sliced Grapefruit

See All 200 Foods High in Vitamin A, RAE

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A printable list of the top 10 foods highest in vitamin A.

Health Benefits of Vitamin A

  • Increased Protection from Bacterial and Viral Infections - Vitamin A is essential for healthy surface linings of the eyes, mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts, which help the body protect against infection. (4,5,6)
  • Proper Immune Functioning - Vitamin A regulates the immune system and plays a key role in making white blood cells which fight off infections in the body. (4,5,6)
  • Cancer Protection (*Food Sources Only) - Studies suggest beta-carotene and vitamin A lower risk of many types of cancer. (7) This effect could mainly be from a diet high in vegetables and not from supplements. Vitamin A supplements have been shown to increase risk of lung cancer. (8,9,10)
  • Better Eye Health and Protection Against Age-Related Macular Degeneration - Oxidative stress plays a role in macular degeneration (poor eye-sight in old age). Anti-oxidants including vitamin A, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin, are thought to play a roll in reducing macular degeneration and preserving good eye health into old age. (2)

Causes of Vitamin A Deficiency

  • Young Children and Breast Feeding Women - Getting enough vitamin A is important for children's development. Deficiency is sometimes seen in developing countries. When breast feeding, both child and mother may become deficient in vitamin A. Xerophthalmia is a common sign of deficiency. Symptoms include dryness of the cornea and redness around the eye. (2)
  • People With Cystic Fibrosis - CS Leads to a pancreatic disorder and improper absorption of fats. Vitamin A is absorbed via fat. When fat is not absorbed, vitamin A deficiency occurs. (2)

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Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
  2. Office Of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet: Vitamin A
  3. Dietary Supplement Label Database
  4. Semba RD. The role of vitamin A and related retinoids in immune function. Nutr Rev 1998;56:S38-48.
  5. Ross DA. Vitamin A and public health: Challenges for the next decade. Proc Nutr Soc 1998;57:159-65.
  6. Harbige LS. Nutrition and immunity with emphasis on infection and autoimmune disease. Nutr Health 1996;10:285-312.
  7. Fontham ETH. Protective dietary factors and lung cancer. Int J Epidemiol 1990;19:S32-S42.
  8. Albanes D, Heinonen OP, Taylor PR, Virtamo J, Edwards BK, Rautalahti M, Hartman AM, Palmgren J, Freedman LS, Haapakoski J, Barrett MJ, Pietinen P, Malila N, Tala E, Lippo K, Salomaa ER, Tangrea JA, Teppo L, Askin FB, Taskinen E, Erozan Y, Greenwald P, Huttunen JK. Alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplement and lung cancer incidence in the alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene cancer prevention study: Effects of baseline characteristics and study compliance. J Natl Cancer Inst 1996;88:1560-70.
  9. Redlich CA, Blaner WS, Van Bennekum AM, Chung JS, Clever SL, Holm CT, Cullen MR. Effect of supplementation with beta-carotene and vitamin A on lung nutrient levels. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1998;7:211-14.
  10. Pryor WA, Stahl W, Rock CL. Beta carotene: from biochemistry to clinical trials. Nutr Rev 2000;58:39-53.
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