Foods High in Vitamin A – A quick guide to the best vegetables and fruits that have vitamin A
- Sweet Potato 961µg per 100 grams
Sweet potatoes are a fantastic root vegetable and one of the highest vegetable sources of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes can be cooked in a variety of ways. Baked, boiled and roasted are the three most common ways. Be sure to leave the skin on as it is a source of many vitamins and minerals.
2. Carrot 835µg per 100 grams
Carrots are another root vegetable with a great amount of vitamin A. As they can be eaten raw they make a fantastic addition to smoothies. In addition, carrots have a good deal of potassium. 100 grams of carrots has 320 mg of potassium, for comparison, bananas have 358 mg.
3. Kale 500µg per 100 grams
Kale is a “superfood” that has grown in popularity over the last few years. It is promoted as being one of the all-time best leafy vegetables you can eat. People are not wrong. Kale has high amounts of many vitamins and minerals, in particular, it has high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, Folate, 491 mg of potassium (eat that bananas), iron and of course vitamin A. It is so easy to incorporate into a smoothie and goes well with many other ingredients.
4. Spinach 469µg per 100 grams
Spinach is another leafy green that has been around for a long time. Similarly to kale, it has many good qualities that make is a very desired ingredient. Like kale, it is high in both vitamin k and potassium. It has 558 mg of potassium per 100 grams. It was made popular by the cartoon character Popeye because of its high amount of iron. Indeed, spinach has 2.71 mg of iron per 100-gram serving.
5. Pumpkin 426µg per 100 grams
Pumpkin is often a seasonal vegetable that normally spikes in popularity around Halloween time when people carve Jack O’ lanterns out of them instead of actually eating them. People do however use the flesh to create delicious pumpkin pie. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin, however, is lacking in another vitamin and minerals although it does contain 340 mg of potassium.
6. Cantaloupe 169µg per 100 grams
Cantaloupe is a variety of melon which differs in the US and in Europe. Although sold under the same name the varieties are slightly different. Although low in most minerals and vitamins it has a fair amount of vitamin C and vitamin A. Fun facts, the total worldwide production of cantaloupes was just under 30 million tonnes with the majority of these being grown in China.
7. Peppers 157µg per 100 grams
Bell peppers are a popular and common ingredient in many different styles of cooking. As well as being a good source of vitamin A they are a fantastic source of vitamin C. In fact, bell peppers have more vitamin C than oranges when compared gram for gram. Interestingly there seems to be a big difference in the amount of Vitamin A between red, yellow and green peppers. Red peppers contain the most with 157µg, then comes green peppers with 18µg and finally yellow peppers with just 10µg. These figures have been obtained from the USDA database.
8. Apricot 96µg per 100 grams
Apricots are also a moderate source of vitamin C. They provide around 12% of your RDI of both vitamin A and C. They can be easily added to smoothie although I would recommend buying canned apricots if possible to avoid having to take out the stone.
Smoothies high in vitamin A
Many of the smoothies on Smoothfuel.com have high amounts of vitamin A. The three smoothie below have the highest amounts of vitamin A.
The Crazy Carrot and Kale Smoothie is an all-around powerhouse. It has been designed specifically to deliver a huge quantity of vitamins, minerals and to contain a great distribution of macronutrients. It has 1424 μg of vitamin A which represents 158% of your RDI.
The Full Omega has been designed to feature two principle components Omega 3 and magnesium. However, in doing so it also became a fantastic source of vitamin A. 1 serving contains 1141 μg of vitamin A, 127% of your RDI.
The All Rounder is a fusion of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains to provide a balanced nutritional profile of both macro and micronutrients. It has 985 μg of vitamin A per serving.
What is vitamin A and what does it do?
Vitamin A is not just one specific compound but is the name given to a group of unsaturated organic compounds that include: retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and some provitamin carotenoids. A provitamin a is simply a compound that the body can turn into a usable form of vitamin A. Beta-carotene is the most commonly know provitamin a. Carotenoids are organic pigments that are produced by plants and algae. Beta-carotene is the reason why carrots and apricots have an orange/yellow color. Beta-carotene is also found in leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale but the orange/yellow color is overpowered by chlorophyll.
Vitamin A and Vision
Vitamin A is crucial for vision. It is used to make another compound known as rhodopsin which is then used to absorb light in the retinal receptors. You might have heard stories or people say that if you eat carrots you can see better in the dark. Well, one of the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency is poor vision in low light or darkness. A vitamin A deficiency is rare in developed countries, however, a vitamin A deficiency during infancy could cause blindness. In addition, age-related macular degeneration could be helped by consuming foods containing carotenoids with antioxidant functions, such as beta-carotene.
In addition to being critical for healthy vision vitamin A also supports cell growth and plays a role in maintaining your heart, lungs, and kidneys healthy.
How much should you consume?
It is sometimes difficult to calculate exact vitamin A amounts. The reason for this is as I stated before, the term vitamin A is often used to refer to a group of compounds. Some compounds are more biologically available than others. This simply means that for some compounds the body can use them instantly and with others, there needs to be another event before they can be used. Beta-carotene falls into this latter category, it must be converted by the body into a usable form.
The following has been taken from the National Institute of Health‘s Fact sheet about vitamin A:
“Because the body converts all dietary sources of vitamin A into retinol, 1 μg of physiologically available retinol is equivalent to the following amounts from dietary sources: 1 μg of retinol, 12 μg of beta-carotene, and 24 μg of alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin. From dietary supplements, the body converts 2 μg of beta-carotene to 1 μg of retinol.”
The recommended dietary allowances are:
Men over 18 – 900μg
Women over 18 – 700μg
These figures are for 1 μg of retinol. This means that if the majority of your vitamin A comes in the form of beta-carotene (which the body converts at a ratio of 12 μg to 1 μg of retinol) the RDA is actually 10,800 μg for men and 8,400μg for women.
As a quick guide, most animal and dairy products primarily contain preformed vitamin A. In contrast vegetables (all of the ingredients shown above) primarily contain provitamin-A.