vitamin a high foods vegan
Medically reviewed by Sara Osman,RD,PT


Vitamin A is a name for a group of fat-soluble compounds which include retinol, retinal and retinyl esters. [1]

The two different forms of vitamin A are preformed vitamin A and provitamin A carotenoids. Both are converted in the body to retinol, which is oxidised to retinal and finally to retinoic acid. Measuring plasma retinol levels indicates the vitamin-A status in the body.[1,3]

Of the two vitamin A forms, only provitamin A is found abundantly in plant based diets and beta-carotene is one of the most important provitamin carotenoids followed by alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. [1]

Observational studies have found a correlation between excess pre-formed vitamin A intake and increased fracture risk as well as irreversible liver damage in some cases. [1,2] However, beta-carotene is not known to be toxic, even with large supplemental doses. [1,2]

  • Both vitamin A types are absorbed in the small intestine but with different ranges, the pre-formed vitamin A absorption level is high ranging from 70-90%, while the beta-carotene absorption rate  ranges from 9-22%.  [7]
  • The absorption rate depends on food, diet-related factors and the health status of the individual. [7]
  • Since vitamin A is fat-soluble, excess levels are usually stored in the body and can accumulate over a period of time.
  • Approximately 70-90% of vitamin A in the body is stored in the liver and intestine in the form of retinyl esters.  [1,4]
  • Stored vitamin A levels in severely deficient individuals decrease to 50 per cent or less.  [3,4]
  • The catabolic rate for retinol or the total body vitamin A stores lost per day is expected to be 0.5 % or more for individuals on a vitamin A free diet. [3,4]
  • The majority of retinol metabolites are excreted in faeces via bile, urine, and to a lesser extent in breath. [3]

Body Functions

Recommended Daily Intake

how much vitamin a is recommended daily

Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin A Food Sources

foods high in vitamin a vegan

Excessive Intake/ Toxicity Side Effects

Groups At Risk of Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A Interaction With Other Nutrients

  • Dietary fat Dietary fat may enhance the absorption of pre-formed vitamin A and pro-vitamin A carotenoids, hence, it is advisable to eat vitamin A with fatty foods. [7]
  • IronVitamin A deficiency impairs iron mobilisation and vitamin A supplementation improves haemoglobin concentrations. [1,3]
  • Zinc Zinc deficiency may negatively affect vitamin A status by affecting the mobilisation of vitamin A from the liver to the circulation, however, the evidence is not conclusive. [3]

Nutrient Profiles For Food Groups

Fruits ( i )

Dried – 24.88 mcg RAE
Juice – 23.05 mcg RAE
Raw or frozen – 18.54 mcg RAE
Canned 17.93 mcg RAE

Legumes ( i )

Flour – 1.86 mcg RAE
Raw – 0.61 mcg RAE

Nuts & Seeds ( i )

Nuts – 3.66 mcg RAE
Seeds – 3.52 mcg RAE

Veggies ( i )

Dried – 250.22 mcg RAE
Cooked -157.58 mcg RAE
Canned – 139.70 mcg RAE
Raw or Frozen – 125.48 mcg RAE

Cereal grains & Flour ( i )

Flour – 0.67 mcg RAE
Raw – 0.86 mcg RAE

Oils ( i )

Cooking oils – 16.71 mcg RAE


Medically reviewed by Sara Osman,RD,PT

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