Kristen Zaier, ​​Plant-Based RD

​References used for all of the nutrient pages can be found at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts page. Click here.

Vitamin A

How Much Do I Need?


  •  RDA for Men >18 is 900 mcg/d

  •  RDA for Woman >18 is 700 mcg/d

  •  Upper Safe Limit for Adults is 3000 mcg/d


Why Do I Need Vitamin A?


Vitamin A is needed for its role in:

  • ​Vision

  • Protein synthesis and cell differentiation (needed to maintain the health of epithelial tissues and skin)

  • Reproduction and growth

  • Antioxidant activity


Plant-Based Sources


  • The richest sources of vitamin A as beta-carotene are found in yellow and orange vegetables and fruits as well as dark leafy greens (the yellow orange color from beta-carotene in leafy greens is masked by the green chlorophyll)


Food

Vitamin A Content (mcg)

Butternut squash, baked, 1 cup

1144

Carrots, raw, chopped, 1 cup

1069

Pumpkin, canned, 1 cup

1906

Sweet potato, medium, baked, 1

1096

Kale, raw, chopped, 1 cup

335

Spinach, raw, 1 cup

141

Swiss chard, boiled, chopped, 1 cup

536

Turnip greens, boiled, chopped, 1 cup

549

Broccoli, raw, chopped, 1 cup

28

Cantaloupe, cubed, 1 cup

270

Mango, 1

181

Apricot, 1

34




Deficiency Symptoms​


  • Night blindness, blindness

  • Follicular hyperkeratosis (dry bumpy skin)​

  • Diarrhea

  • Suppressed immune system

  • Painful joints


Toxicity Symptoms


  • Bone pain and fragility

  • Dry fissured skin

  • Hair loss

  • Gingivitis

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain

  • Loss of appetite, fatigue

  • Enlarged liver


Notes


  • Vitamin A is easy to obtain in a whole foods plant-based diet and it is best to avoid supplementation unless instructed otherwise by your physician

  • Vitamin A along with the other antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E are beneficial when obtained from food but could actually be harmful when supplemented as discussed in Dr. Greger's video 

  • The current RDA for vitamin A is given in micrograms (mcg) of retinol activity equivalents (RAE)

  • RAE is used because there are several forms of vitamin A that have activity in the body including plant and animal sources

  • The best known and most active plant form of vitamin A is beta-carotene

  • You might still see the older measurement of international units (IU) used for vitamin A

  • The conversion for IU to RAE is 1 RAE = 3.33 IU and 1 IU = 0.3 mcg RAE​