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Foods High in Vitamin A (RAE)

By Anna Aronson

Vitamin A is one of several vitamins essential for good health. It exists in two forms: retinol and carotenoids. Retinol is only found in animal-derived foods, while some fruits and vegetables contain certain carotenoids the body can convert into retinol, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. The RAE in reference to vitamin A is the unit of measurement associated with it--retinol activity equivalents. Because some sources of vitamin A are more effective than others, the measurement is a means of measuring the retinol activity in food sources. Recommended intake for vitamin A ranges from 300 RAEs and 900 RAEs, depending on age and gender.


Milk and dairy products, such as cheese, are good natural sources of vitamin A. Because vitamin A is present in milk fat, fat-free milk is typically fortified with the vitamin, the Office of Dietary Supplements reports. A one cup serving of fortified skim milk contains five percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin A, while a one oz. serving of cheddar cheese contains six percent of the daily value.


Certain types of meat are an excellent dietary source of vitamin A. Beef liver and chicken liver both are packed with the vitamin. A three oz. serving of beef liver contains 545 percent of the daily value, while three oz. of chicken liver contains 345 percent, the Office of Dietary Supplements reports.


Certain vegetables have high concentrations of the carotenoids that the body can convert to retinol. Carrots are the most abundant source, with one cup of raw carrots providing 686.3 percent of the daily value for vitamin A, according to World's Healthiest Foods. Spinach, red bell peppers, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, sweet potatoes, winter squash and broccoli also are excellent sources of vitamin A, while tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, green beans, asparagus, cucumbers, summer squash, peas and celery contain lesser amounts of carotenoids.


In general, fruits are not as good a source of carotenoids as vegetables, but some provide a healthy dose. Cantaloupe is the best source, with a one cup serving containing 110 percent of the daily value, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Other carotenoid-rich fruits include apricots, papayas, mangoes, peaches, grapefruit, watermelon and plums.

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