Top 10 Foods Highest in Beta Carotene

Photo of Daisy Whitbread Written by Daisy Whitbread
BSc (Hons) MSc DipION
Photo of Dr. Patricia Shelton Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Patricia Shelton
Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
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Top 10 Foods Highest in Beta Carotene

Beta-carotene is a carotenoid compound responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their orange pigment.

Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble vitamin, so eating it along with foods with fat such as olive oil or nuts, can help to boost absorption. (1)

Like alpha-carotene, beta-carotene is a precursor for creating vitamin A in the body. The amount of vitamin A is measured in retinol activity equivalents (RAE). (2) The current daily value for vitamin A is 900mcg of RAE. (3)

There is no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) for beta-carotene, but a figure of 10800mcg per day can be used as a general target. This is based on the rate of conversion of beta-carotene into vitamin A. It takes 12mcg of beta-carotene to create 1mcg of RAE. (2)

Foods high in beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, butternut squash, cantaloupe, lettuce, red bell peppers, apricots, broccoli, and peas.

Below is a list of the 10 best beta-carotene foods. Use the nutrient ranking of over 200 foods high in beta-carotene to sort by 100 gram serving sizes and find even more foods.

Where does the RDA for Beta-Carotene come from?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily requirement for a particular nutrient.

The daily value (%DV) for an vitamin A is 900mcg RAE (retinol equivalents). (3)

For beta-carotene from foods, 12 mcg of beta-carotene is converted to 1mcg RAE (vitamin A) in the body. (2) This means that the the RDA for beta-carotene is equal to the %DV for vitamin A times 12. We use the 900mcg DV to set the RDA for beta-carotene, so it is 900mcg x 12 = 10800mcg (10.8mg). This is the amount that you would need if you were getting all of your vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.

The 10800mcg can be used for comparison purposes and is not necessarily a target amount to eat in a day. This is because the target is a total of 900mcg RAE. Other sources of RAE, including alpha-carotene and vitamin A, contribute to this total.

Use the ranking tool links below to select foods and create your own food list to share or print.

View more nutrients with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. Ribaya-Mercado JD. Bioavailability of beta-carotene in humans Nutr Rev. 2002 Apr;60(4):104-10. doi: 10.1301/00296640260085831. 12002680
  2. National Library of Medicine - Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc.
  3. U.S.FDA - Daily Value on the New Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels
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