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Vitamin A Foods

Foods With Vitamin A

When you think of Vitamin A foods I’m willing to bet the first thing that comes to mind are carrots. There are more (lots more) foods with Vitamin A than carrots. Before I get any further I do have mention something… the only foods with Vitamin A (meaning readily-usable, pure Vitamin A) are from animal sources.

Most of the foods high in Vitamin A that are from plant sources is really Beta Carotene.

Why does this matter?

The thing with Vitamin A from animal foods (also called “preformed Vitamin A”) is it’s ready to be used as Vitamin A as soon as you digest it.

With beta carotene its used as an antioxidant first and then if there’s anything left the rest will be converted and used as Vitamin A. There are many benefits in getting Vitamin A from both plant and animal foods.

So let’s go over the best Vitamin A foods we can find…

Foods with Vitamin A

Food Amount Vitamin A in IU
Turkey 1 cup 52,000
Beef Liver 3 oz 22,000
Skim Milk 1 cup 400
Egg 1 large 270
Cheese, cheddar 1 oz 280

Foods with Beta Carotene

Food Amount Vitamin A in IU
Sweet potato 1 medium 9,230
Carrot (raw) 1 cup 18,000
Collard greens (cooked) 1/2 cup 7,410
Spinach (cooked) 1/2 cup 7,290
Kale (cooked) 1/2 cup 4,560
Squash (winter) 1 cup 10,700
Pumpkin (canned) 1 cup 38,000
Apricots (dried) 35 grams (10 halves) 1,200
Cantaloupe 1 cup 2,700
Peach 1 large 2,000
Red bell pepper 1/2 cup 2,500

The RDA for Vitamin A assumes you’re getting a good amount of your Vitamin A from animal foods. Even though it’s true not many people eat enough fruits and vegetables, let’s set the record straight.

Most of the animal foods rich in Vitamin A are also high in calories (mostly fat) and cholesterol. Similar to the Vitamin E food sources which also mostly come from fatty food sources… getting Vitamin A mostly from animal sources may not be the best strategy.

It’s best to get most, if not all, of your Vitamin A from plant foods. A few things to keep in mind…

  • The Vitamin A found in plants is Beta Carotene.
  • Your body absorbs only about 40% of the beta carotene you eat.
  • And of that 40%, another 40% of the carotenes you eat are used as Vitamin A. The rest is used as antioxidants.

Example: You eat 1 cup of carrots. That’s around 18,000IU of beta carotene.

40% gets used as Vitamin A (the rest as antioxidants) which leaves you with 7200IU.

And at an absorption rate of 40%, you’re getting 2880IU.

So 1 cup of carrots leaves you with 2880IU and to get the full Vitamin A benefits it’s best to get 10,000IU to 15,000IU per day.

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