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  • Kelin M

What's a Good Source of Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is critical for vision, immunity, fertility, and for growth and development (including long, healthy hair - read this article for how it can boost your hair growth!).

If you want to know whether you're getting enough in your diet, first you need to know what's a good source of vitamin A!

First we'll tell you which type is best absorbed by your body, and then we'll get into all the best foods to boost your vitamin A level.

What is the Best Form of Vitamin A?

This fat-soluble vitamin is important for vision, immunity, and cell growth. It comes in two forms: preformed (from animal sources) and provitamin A carotenoids (from plants). Both forms must be metabolized into their active forms (retinal and retinoic acid) and then stored in the liver.

Only preformed vitamin A, also known as retinoids, are bioavailable. This means that your body can use them. Retinoids typically come from animal products.

Carotenoids are pigments in plant foods (like beta-carotene in sweet potatoes) and must first be converted to retinoids before they can be used. Unfortunately, not everyone can convert carotenoids to vitamin A.

Carotenoid absorption depends on diet, nutrition, gut health, and genetics. Absorption of carotenoids ranges from 5% to 65%, meaning that for certain people, even consuming a large amount of plant-based provitamin A will not correct a deficiency. What's a good source of vitamin A for one person may not be for another.

Vitamin A retinoids (retinol, retinal, and retinyl esters), or preformed vitamin A, are best because they can be absorbed directly. However, it is worth noting that carotenoids have no maximum intake, but retinoids can be toxic at too high of a dose (it's recommended to avoid supplementing with more than 10,000 IU per day).

What are the Best Sources of Vitamin A?

The best sources of vitamin A are animal products, especially:

  • Liver (3 oz. has over 15,000 IU!)

  • Cheese (especially goat cheese, limburger, camembert, and cheddar)

  • Eggs

  • Oily fish (especially fish liver and cod liver oil)

  • Milk and yogurt

What's a good source of vitamin A that's not an animal product? Preformed vitamin A (retinol) is technically only found in animal products, but if you eat a plant-based diet, the next section has suggestions for provitamin A.

Vegetables with Vitamin A

You can get provitamin A from plant foods, like those rich in beta-carotene (look for yellow, red, and orange fruits, but also leafy green vegetables):

  • Mangoes

  • Papaya

  • Squash

  • Carrots

  • Sweet Potatoes

  • Dried Apricots

  • Kale or Spinach

As mentioned in the earlier section, "What is the Best Form of Vitamin A?", not everyone can convert carotenoids to vitamin A.

If you don't consume enough vitamin A in your diet, you should try a good supplement. Why Not Natural makes a hard-to-find vegan retinol form of vitamin A derived from soy!

How Can I Get Enough Vitamin A?

Check the charts below for the 10 best sources of this critical nutrient per serving - vitamin A from animals in the first chart, and vitamin A from fruits and vegetables in the second.

You should aim for the serving size recommended for your age in the chart in this article.

Vitamin A - Animal Sources

Source: USDA


Serving Size

Vitamin A per serving (mcg)

1. Cod Liver Oil

218 g / 1 Cup (Note that this is an exceptionally high dose)


2. Raw Veal Liver

453 g / 1 lb


3. Raw Beef Liver (from New Zealand)

113 g / 4 oz


4. Braised Lamb Liver

336 g / 1 lb


5. Pan-Fried Lamb Liver

322 g / 1 lb


6. Braised Veal Liver

85 g / 3 oz


7. Boiled Beef Liver

85 g / 3 oz


8. Raw Lamb Liver

113 g / 4 oz


9. Pan-Fried Veal Liver

85 g (3 oz)


10. Braised Veal Liver

80 g


You may have noticed a trend: it's all liver! It's not surprising, as the liver is where vitamin A is stored in all bodies. However, if you don't like eating liver, you can still get enough vitamin A.

Other meat sources (especially giblets) tend to be high in vitamin A, as well as cheese quiche, spinach quiche, sweet potato pie, and pumpkin pie.

The fruits and vegetables below are the highest sources of provitamin A.

Vitamin A Foods - Vegetarian (Carotenoids)


Serving Size

Vitamin A per serving (mcg)

  1. Sweet Potato Pie

1 10" pie


2. Pumpkin Pie

1 10" pie


3. Frozen chopped collards

1 package (3 lb)


4. Frozen winter + butternut squash

1 package (4 lb)


5. Fortified peanut butter

1 cup


6. Frozen mixed vegetables

1 pack (2 1/2 lb)


7. Canned carrots

454 g (1 can)


8. Raw romaine lettuce

1 head (626 g)


9. Instant cream of wheat with added non-dairy milk

965 g (1 cup dry)


10. Boiled sweet potato

328 g (1 cup, mashed)


Note that these values come directly from the USDA, and it may or may not be reasonable to eat an entire pie in one sitting (here at Ingredient Nerd, we only judge labels).

Eating the foods above is a great way to get enough vitamin A, but when in doubt or if you're on a vegetarian diet, you may want to use a high-quality vitamin A supplement. Choose one with the retinol form.

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