Have you ever been told you need to ‘eat all your carrots so you can see in the dark’? There is some truth in this, as the orange pigment in carrots is turned into vitamin A by our bodies. Vitamin A is important in maintaining good eyesight, especially night vision. However, vitamin A is also important for growth and helping us to fight infection.
How much vitamin A do we need?
|Infants and toddlers||1-3||300|
*Recommended Daily Intake (as retinol equivalents)
Which foods contain vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin found in two forms:
1.retinol (in animal foods) Retinol is found in liver, milk, cheese and butter.
2.carotenoids (in plant sources). The most common of these is beta carotene, which gives the orange colour to carrots. Carotenoids are also found in dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli) and yellow-orange coloured fruits and vegetables (capsicum, kumara). Carotenoids are converted into Vitamin A in the body.
Vitamin A content of foods
|Vitamin A (µg)
(as retinol equivalents)
|1 slice of lamb liver||20600|
|1/2 cup cheddar cheese||233|
|1 teaspoon butter||133|
|1 cup trim milk||7|
|1 cup standard milk||83|
Vitamin A (µg) as retinol equivalents
|1 carrot||782 (4680)|
|1 cup spinach||540 (3230)|
|1 red capscium||259 (1550)|
|1 cup boiled broccoli||181 (1080)|
|1 red kumara||43 (255)|
Vitamin A toxicity
Too much vitamin A (retinol) can be toxic, although this is rare from food sources but should be considered when taking supplements that contain high levels of the retinol form of Vitamin A. High levels of vitamin A during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects. Women who are pregnant should avoid eating more than 100g of liver a week (as this may be high in vitamin A) and should not take supplements containing vitamin A, including fish oils, unless advised by their doctor
Click to view page references