Our bodies are heavily dependent on Vitamin A to maintain our daily functioning. Vitamin A is important for vision, body growth, immune function, reproduction, cell recognition, and more. In addition to all these benefits, a deficiency of vitamin A can have severe negative effects on the body, such as hair loss, dry eyes, night blindness, and increased risk of infection. While vitamin A deficiency is rare in the US, young children, pregnant women, and people with cystic fibrosis are at increased risk.
There are two types of vitamin A: Preformed Vitamin A and Provitamin A. We consume both of these types of vitamin A in our diets everyday, without even realizing it! Both are equally important to integrate into your diet.
Preformed Vitamin A
As suggested in its name, Preformed Vitamin A is already formed into an active compound, so our bodies don’t need to convert it. Retinol is the most common form of Vitamin A that is found in foods, especially meat and dairy products. If you’re looking to add more preformed vitamin A to your diet, try these 4 foods:
- Liver – although it might not be the most appetizing dish, beef liver, lamb liver, and even cod liver oil are all extremely high in preformed vitamin A.
- Fish – many forms of fish, including king mackerel, salmon, bluefin tuna, and caviar are good sources of vitamin A.
- Cheese – you can find high levels of preformed vitamin A in goat cheese, limburger cheese, cheddar, camembert, roquefort and feta.
- Fortified cereals -ready to eat cereals are easy and surprisingly packed with vitamin A. Great for vegans who can’t eat other food that have preformed vitamin A.
While getting enough preformed vitamin A is important, too much can actually be a bad thing! Excess preformed vitamin A can cause hypervitaminosis, which is a harmful type of toxicity. Usually hypervitaminosis doesn’t occur from eating foods with vitamin A — it is often a result of excessive supplement intake.
On the other hand, Provitamin A is full of carotenoids, which are converted inside the body to become active. Cartenoids are naturally occurring in plants, giving many fruits and vegetables their bright coloring. Check out our list of the top 4 foods high in provitamin A.
- Orange and Yellow vegetables – carrots, butternut squash, and bell peppers are all bursting with color and with vitamin A.
- Leafy Greens – good for you in many ways, leafy greens such as broccoli, spinach, and lettuce are a great source of vitamin A.
- Tomatoes – filled with antioxidants and vitamin A, tomatoes are great for you all around.
- Cantaloupe – Continuing with more bright colored foods, cantaloupe also provides a rich source of provitamin A
Both types of vitamin A are incredibly important for maintaining your health, and should be consumed daily!