Vitamin A

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Everyone needs Vitamin A. It helps:

  • Eyes to adjust to dim light and see in the dark
  • Skin to be healthy, smooth, and soft
  • Body to resist infection
  • Keep the lining of the mouth, nose, throat and digestive tract healthy
  • Bones and teeth to grow and develop
  • Assists in preventing anemia

Vitamin A is found in two forms; retinol and carotenoids. One popular carotenoid that you may have heard of is beta-carotene which helps protect cells from damage and can help protect us from long-term diseases and early aging.

Vitamin A is stored in the body. Too much vitamin A can be harmful. This is usually caused by misuse of supplements. Get your vitamin A from foods. Including good sources of Vitamin A at least every other day will insure an adequate intake.

How much Vitamin A do I need?

  • 1-3 year olds = 300 micrograms (mcg) per day
  • 4-8 year olds = 400 mcg per day
  • 9-13 year olds = 600 mcg per day
  • Males 14+ = 900 mcg per day
  • Females 14+ = 700 mcg per day 
    • During pregnancy 770 mcg per day
    • While breastfeeding 1,300 mcg per day

Foods with Vitamin A

Liver is a high source of vitamin A. However, it is not recommended for pregnant women because it is such a high source of the type of vitamin A that can cause birth defects. Other food sources of Vitamin A do not cause birth defects. 

The best sources are cod liver oil, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified skim milk, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits, and other sources of beta-carotene such as broccoli, spinach, and most dark green, leafy vegetables.

The deeper the color of a fruit or vegetable, the higher the amount of beta-carotene.

  • Sweet potato, baked in skin, 1 whole: 1,403 mcg
  • Spinach, cooked, ½ cup: 573 mcg
  • Carrots, raw, ½ cup: 459 mcg
  • Milk with added Vit A & D, 1 cup: 149 mcg
  • Cantaloupe, raw, ½ cup: 135 mcg
  • Mangos, raw, 1 whole: 112 mcg
  • Black-eye peas, cooked, 1 cup: 66 mcg
  • Apricots, dried, 10 halves: 63 mcg
  • Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup: 60 mcg
  • Egg, hard boiled, 1 large: 75 mcg

Sources: USDA Infant Feeding & Nutrition – A Guide for Use in WIC, MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health

This post was last updated on December 18th, 2019 at 4:42 PM

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