Vitamin A: Benefits and Food Sources

Vitamin A: Benefits and Food Sources

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient, meaning it can be absorbed along the fats from food and stored in our body’s fatty tissue. It exists in two forms:

  • Pre-formed vitamin A or Retinol, that comes from animal origin products (meat, dairy, fish)
  • Provitamin A, mainly in the form of beta-carotene, which can be found naturally in plants

The best-known benefit of vitamin A is that it helps keep our eyesight healthy, but it can help our bodies beyond this: vitamin A is vital for our skin’s health, the metabolism of iron in our bodies, and our immune system.

The recommended daily intake (Nutrient Reference Value) for vitamin A for adults is 800 micrograms per day, and you should be able to obtain this from a varied and balanced diet. Because this vitamin is stored in our body in fatty tissues, the reassuring news is that you have a back-up store in case you don’t manage to eat the recommended intake on occasion.

One thing to be aware of is that, because we do store vitamin A in our bodies, there is such a thing as having too much of it. If we’re eating sufficient quantities of vitamin A in our diets, the risk of toxicity can appear if we also take vitamin A-rich supplements. It’s best to consult your doctor before taking supplements containing a high level of vitamin A.

Why vitamin A is important

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient to our health. It helps to keep our vision healthy, including our eyes’ ability to adapt to the dark. It also helps protect the cornea, the outermost layer of the eye, and the conjunctiva, a membrane that covers the eye and the inside of the eyelids.
The conjunctiva isn’t the only membrane that vitamin A helps protect: it’s also beneficial for the nose lining, the surface of the intestines, bladder and lungs, and perhaps the biggest membrane of all: the skin.

Vitamin A also plays a role in the health of our immune system, helping us to shield ourselves against illnesses and infections.

Vitamin A also helps our bodies to properly metabolise iron. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide, so vitamin A’s role in iron’s metabolism is important to keep us healthy too.  

Foods rich in vitamin A

Now that we know how important vitamin A is to the healthy functioning of our bodies, how do we make sure we reach our target intake?

If you don’t have any dietary restrictions you can make sure your diet includes:

  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified spreads
  • Whole milk and butter
  • Liver and liver pâte

Certain vegetables and fruits are also rich in carotenoids:

  • Carrots
  • Dark leafy greens like kale, collard greens, spinach, Swiss chard
  • Butternut squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mangoes
  • Apricots

We’re all about following a healthy, balanced diet here at Birds Eye, so learn more about other important vitamins and how we can get them from our food. All our frozen veg are rich in vitamins and nutrients, and  by freezing fruit and veg, we naturally preserve all the good stuff.