Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. It comes in two forms, including preformed Vitamin A from animal foods and provitamin A carotenoids from plant foods.
Benefits of Vitamin A include supporting eye function and healthy vision, a healthy immune system, and acting as a skin health nutrient.✝
You can find Vitamin A in foods like organ meats, eggs, cheese, mango, leafy greens, and carrots.
Taking a Vitamin A-containing supplement is also an option to help meet your daily needs.
In order to support your overall well-being, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients. This includes the big ones, like protein, fat, and carbohydrates, but also the vitamins and minerals that are necessary for your body to function at its best. And you might be wondering, what vitamins do I need?
One critical micronutrient is Vitamin A. While it may not be talked about quite as often as some of the other vitamins, Vitamin A plays a unique role in your health and wellness. So what does Vitamin A do for your body and where can you find it?
Vitamin A Overview
Vitamin A is actually a name for a group of compounds, which are primarily retinol and retinyl esters. These are fat-soluble vitamins, which means they require fat to be absorbed. Fat-soluble vitamins that are not used right away are stored in your liver and fatty tissues for later.
There are two sources of Vitamin A that we can get in our diet: preformed Vitamin A (retinol and retinyl esters) and provitamin A carotenoids. Preformed Vitamin A is found in animal products, whereas Provitamin A carotenoids are pigments in certain plant foods that your intestines convert into Vitamin A when you consume them.
The Benefits of Vitamin A for Your Body
Vitamin A is involved in a number of processes that serve to keep your body functioning well and support your health.†
Supporting Eye Health
Vitamin A is essential for eye function and healthy vision. It does this by contributing to the formation of retinal, which is essential for the proper function of photoreceptor cells in your eyes.†
Supporting Immune System
Vitamin A helps support a healthy immune system. It does so as it is necessary for the health of your tissues, mucus membranes, and cells involved in the immune response. Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals in the body.†
Supporting Skin Health
If you’re looking to support skin health, you might want to consider Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a skin health nutrient that helps support healthy skin. Beta-Carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, has antioxidant properties and is essential for healthy skin.†
Despite its importance, data show that Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the United States, estimated at only 0.3%. However, one study found that 45% of the population had a inadequate intake of Vitamin A from their diet, based on the 2005-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) which included health information from over 26,000 adults.
So how much do you need? The recommended amount of Vitamin A is given in RAE, which stands for retinol activity equivalents. RAE takes into account the differences in retinol and carotenoids you get from various food sources.
All you really need to know is how many mcg of RAE you should aim for each day and what that translates to as far as food sources go.
The RDA for Vitamin A for adults is:
900 mcg RAE for men 19+ years
700 mcg RAE for women 19+ years
770 mcg RAE for pregnancy
1,300 mcg RAE for lactation
1 mcg of RAE is equivalent to:
1 mcg retinol
2 mcg supplemental Beta-Carotene
12 mcg dietary Beta-Carotene
24 mcg dietary alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin
To give you an idea, one grade A large egg contains 90.5 mcg RAE and 1 cup of drained boiled spinach provides 943 mcg RAE.
As for supplements, multivitamins can vary significantly in the amount of Vitamin A they provide per serving. They may also be made with Preformed Vitamin A, Provitamin A, or a combination of both.
Both of our Women’s Multivitamin Tablets and Men's Multivitamin Tablets provide 750 mcg of Vitamin A per serving, which is Retinyl Acetate with 60% Beta-Carotene. The best way to know what’s in your dietary supplement is to look at the supplement facts panel listed on the back of the bottle.
How Can You Get Vitamin A Daily?
If you’re not sure whether you’re getting enough Vitamin A in your diet, rest assured that there are many food sources. You might remember that animal-derived foods contain Preformed Vitamin A and plant foods contain carotenoids that are converted into Vitamin A in your intestinal tract.
Some food sources of Preformed Vitamin A include:
Animal organ meats, such as beef liver
Certain cheeses, like ricotta
Fortified breakfast cereals
Certain fish, like pickled herring, salmon, and tuna
You can also get Vitamin A from carotenoids in these foods:
Leafy greens, like spinach
Red bell pepper
If needed, you may also consider adding a multivitamin or other Vitamin A-containing supplement to your routine to help fill in the potential gaps since 45% of the population is not getting enough Vitamin A from their diet.
For example, Nature Made Multivitamin For Her Gummies provides 50% of your daily value for Vitamin A in a 2-gummy serving. When deciding how to choose a multivitamin or other supplement, consider whether specific nutrients like Vitamin A are a priority. Be sure to read the supplement facts panel to decide whether it meets your needs.
Saari J. C. (2016). Vitamin A and Vision. Sub-cellular biochemistry, 81, 231–259. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-0945-1_9
McEldrew EP, Lopez MJ, Milstein H. Vitamin A. [Updated 2023 Jul 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482362/
Huang, Z., Liu, Y., Qi, G., Brand, D., & Zheng, S. G. (2018). Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(9), 258. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm7090258
Reider, C. A., Chung, R. Y., Devarshi, P. P., Grant, R. W., & Hazels Mitmesser, S. (2020). Inadequacy of Immune Health Nutrients: Intakes in US Adults, the 2005-2016 NHANES. Nutrients, 12(6), 1735. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061735
Lauren specializes in plant-based living and vegan and vegetarian diets for all ages. She also enjoys writing about parenting and a wide variety of health, environmental, and nutrition topics. Find her at www.laurenpanoff.com.
Lynn is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and is a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. She has over 20 years of experience in integrative and functional nutrition and has given lectures to health professionals and consumers on nutrition, dietary supplements and related health issues. Lynn frequently conducts employee trainings on various nutrition topics in addition to educating retail partners on vitamins, minerals and supplements. Lynn has previous clinical dietitian expertise in both acute and long-term care, as well as nutrition counseling for weight management, diabetes, and sports nutrition. Lynn earned a bachelor’s of science in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a M.S. degree in Human Nutrition from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lynn is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, and holds a certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.