Dietary Sources of Vitamin A

Table 1: Selected animal sources of vitamin A

Food Vitamin A (IU)* %DV**
Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces 27,185 545
Liver, chicken, cooked, 3 ounces 12,325 245
Milk, fortified skim, 1 cup 500 10
Cheese, cheddar, 1 ounce 284 6
Milk, whole (3.25% fat), 1 cup 249 5
Egg substitute, ¼ cup 226 5

Table 2: Selected plant sources of vitamin A (from beta-carotene)
Food Vitamin A (IU)* %DV**
Carrot juice, canned, ½ cup 22,567 450
Carrots, boiled, ½ cup slices 13,418 270
Spinach, frozen, boiled, ½ cup 11,458 230
Kale, frozen, boiled, ½ cup 9,558 190
Carrots, 1 raw (7½ inches) 8,666 175
Vegetable soup, canned, chunky, ready-to-serve, 1 cup 5,820 115
Cantaloupe, 1 cup cubes 5,411 110
Spinach, raw, 1 cup 2,813 55
Apricots with skin, juice pack, ½ cup 2,063 40
Apricot nectar, canned, ½ cup 1,651 35
Papaya, 1 cup cubes 1,532 30
Mango, 1 cup sliced 1,262 25
Oatmeal, instant, fortified, plain, prepared with water, 1 cup 1,252 25
Peas, frozen, boiled, ½ cup 1,050 20
Tomato juice, canned, 6 ounces 819 15
Peaches, canned, juice pack, ½ cup halves or slices 473 10
Peach, 1 medium 319 6
Pepper, sweet, red, raw, 1 ring (3 inches diameter by ¼ inch thick) 313 6

* IU = International Units.
** DV = Daily Value. DVs are reference numbers based on the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs). They were developed to help consumers determine if a food contains a lot or a little of a nutrient. The DV for vitamin A is 5,000 IU. Most food labels do not list vitamin A content. The percent DV (%DV) column in the table above indicates the percentage of the DV provided in one serving. A food providing 5% or less of the DV is a low source while a food that provides 10-19% of the DV is a good source. A food that pro vides 20% or more of the DV is high in that nutrient. It is important to remember that foods that provide lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.

Recommendations for vitamin A are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).DRI is the general term for a set of reference values used for planning and assessing nutrient intake in healthy people. Three important types of reference values included in the DRIs are Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA), Adequate Intakes (AI), and Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL). The RDA recommends the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97-98%) healthy individuals in each age and gender group. An AI is set when there are insufficient scientific data to establish a RDA. AIs meet or exceed the amount needed to maintain nutritional adequacy in nearly all people. The UL, on the other hand, is the maximum daily intake unlikely to result in adverse health effects.

In Table 3, RDAs for vitamin A are listed as micrograms (mcg) of Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE) to account for the different biological activities of retinol and provitamin A carotenoids. Table 3 also lists RDAs for vitamin A in International Units (IU), which are used on food and supplement labels (1 RAE = 3.3 IU).

Table 3: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamin A
(mcg RAE)
(mcg RAE)
(mcg RAE)
(mcg RAE)
(mcg RAE)
1-3 300
(1,000 IU)
4-8 400
(1,320 IU)
9-13 600
(2,000 IU)
14-18 900
(3,000 IU)
(2,310 IU)
(2,500 IU)
(4,000 IU)
19+ 900
(3,000 IU)
(2,310 IU)
(2,565 IU)
(4,300 IU)