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Any vitamin A-rich food can provide you with some retinoic acid. Your body can turn the vitamin A-precursor beta-carotene found in fruits and vegetables into retinol, the form of vitamin A found in animal foods 7. Your system can then break down the vitamin to form retinoic acid. Getting the recommended 700 micrograms per day for women or 900 micrograms per day for men of vitamin A is essential for proper vision and immune function.
Beef and Lamb
Beef, veal and lamb lungs, kidneys and liver are among the foods with the highest retinol and vitamin A content. For example, a 3-ounce serving of lamb liver provides 6,610 micrograms of retinol, or 22,098 international units of vitamin A, and a 2.4-ounce serving of beef liver has 6,411 micrograms of retinol, or 21,566 international units of vitamin A. Servings of beef, veal and lamb meat otherwise provide only trace amounts of vitamin A.
Pork and Poultry
The Health Benefits of Liver
Pork and poultry products provide only small amounts of retinol, unless you eat the livers, kidneys or giblets of these animals. A cup of diced chicken giblets provides 5,194 micrograms of retinol, or 17,297 international units of vitamin A, and a 3-ounce serving of pork liver has 4,594 micrograms of retinol, or 15,297 international units of vitamin A. A 3-ounce serving of stewed chicken only provides 33 micrograms of retinol, and 3 ounces of 85-percent-lean ground turkey have just 30 micrograms.
Fish and Seafood
You can also get your daily dose of retinol from fish and seafood. Among the better sources are bluefin tuna, with 643 micrograms of retinol, or 2,142 international units of vitamin A per 3-ounce serving, and king mackerel, with 214 micrograms of retinol, or 713 international units of vitamin A per serving. Many other types of fish and seafood also provide vitamin A, but in smaller amounts.
Dairy and Eggs
Vitamin K-2 Food Sources
Milk is often fortified with vitamin A, making dairy products a source of retinol. Fortified skim milk provides about 149 micrograms of retinol per cup, or 500 international units of vitamin A. Eggs provide about 99 micrograms of retinol per large egg, or 362 international units of vitamin A.
Fruits and Vegetables
The most brightly colored fruits and vegetables often contain the most beta-carotene, which provides a yellow or orange color. For example, a cup of mashed sweet potato provides 51,627 international units of vitamin A, and the same amount of canned pumpkin has 38,129 international units. Carrots and winter squash are also excellent sources of vitamin A, as are green leafy vegetables. A cup of canned spinach has 20,974 international units of vitamin A and the same amount of cooked collards has 19,538 international units. Good fruit sources of vitamin A include cantaloupe, mangoes and dried apricots.
- The most brightly colored fruits and vegetables often contain the most beta-carotene, which provides a yellow or orange color.
- A cup of canned spinach has 20,974 international units of vitamin A and the same amount of cooked collards has 19,538 international units.
The Health Benefits of Liver
Vitamin K-2 Food Sources
Nutrients That Are Precursors to Vitamins
Chicken Liver Nutrition Information
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Vitamin K in Green Beans and Apples
List of Fruits & Vegetables That Have Alpha Lipoic Acid
Vitamins & Minerals in Cheese
What Causes Liver Spots on My Arms?
What Do Multivitamins Do for the Body?
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin A
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A
- USDA National Nutrient Database Nutrient Lists: Retinol, Beef and Lamb
- USDA National Nutrient Database Nutrient Lists: Retinol, Pork and Poultry
- USDA National Nutrient Database Nutrient Lists: Retinol, Fish
- USDA National Nutrient Database Nutrient Lists: Retinol, Dairy and Eggs
- USDA National Nutrient Database Nutrient Lists: Retinol, Fruits and Vegetables
- World Health Organization. Nutrition: Micronutrient deficiencies.
- Kong, R., Cui, Y., Fisher, G., Wang, X., Chen, Y., Schneider, L. and Majmudar, G., 2015. A comparative study of the effects of retinol and retinoic acid on histological, molecular, and clinical properties of human skin. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 15(1), pp.49-57. doi:10.1111/jocd.12193
- National Institutes of Health. Office Of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Vitamin A. Updated February 2nd, 2019
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.