Nutrient Information: Vitamin A, IU

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Nutrient Key Information 
Nutrient Name: Vitamin A, IU
Nutrient Category: Vitamins and Other Components
Unit Name: IU
Nutrient Summary: Vitamin A is important for vision, gene expression, reproduction, embryonic development, growth, and immune function.

Sample Foods High in: Vitamin A, IU
Additional Top Food Sources
Food Description Nutrient Amount1 Daily Value%2
Beef, variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, braised
Category: Beef Products
31,714 IU 634.28%
Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, without salt
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
19,218 IU 384.36%
Carrots, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
17,033 IU 340.66%
Mustard greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
12,370 IU 247.40%
Squash, winter, butternut, cooked, baked, with salt
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
11,155 IU 223.10%
Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
10,481 IU 209.62%
1 Nutrient amount is in 100 gram food
2 Use Female 31-50 years old as Daily Value reference

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Nutrient Detail Information
Nutrient Summary Vitamin A is important for vision, gene expression, reproduction, embryonic development, growth, and immune function.
Nutrient Function There are two main types of Vitamin A:
1) Preformed Vitamin A (retinol and retinyl esters): naturally exists in meats, fish, and dairy products
2) Provitamin A carotenoids (beta-carotene): exists in vegetables, fruits, and plant-based oils

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient. Body converts them into retinal and retinoic acid, the active form of Vitamin A. Most of them are stored in liver in the form of retinyl esters for later use. RAE stands for Retinol Activity Equivalents.

• Benefits to eye health:
1) Retinal is required by the eye to transduce light into the neural signals necessary for color vision and low-light vision.
2) Retinoic acid is required to maintain cornea and conjunctiva membranes (which covers the surface of your eye), thus preventing xerophthalmia.

• Retinoic acid is the major active form of vitamin A required to regulate the expression of various genes to help growth, development, and reproduction:
1) encode for structural proteins, such as skin tissues
2) enzymes (e.g., alcohol dehydrogenase), extracellular matrix proteins (e.g., laminin), and retinol binding proteins and receptors.

• Support immune function: support the creation, growth and distribution of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that protects your body from infection.
• Help red blood cell formation: Vitamin A helps iron mobilization from stores, thus improves hemoglobin concentrations.
Food Sources
Top Food Sources
Preformed Vitamin A (retinol) exists naturally in animal-based foods. The efficiency of preformed vitamin A absorption is higher (from 70 to 90%). The primary food sources are:
• Liver
• Dairy products
• Fish (such as king mackerel, trout, salmon)
• Eggs

Dietary Provitamin A carotenoids exist in vegetables, fruits, and plant-based oils. The efficiency of Provitamin A carotenoids absorption is relatively lower (~ 9-22%). The primary food sources are:
• Carrots
• Squash
• Fruits: Cantaloupe, apricots, and mangos.
• Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and broccoli
• Peas
• Pumpkin
• Red peppers
• Sweet potatoes

Foods fortified with vitamin A:
• Margarine
• Low-fat and nonfat milk
• Fortified grains and cereals

• Dietary fat may enhance the absorption of Vitamin A. Cooked carrots and spinach has greater absorption rate of Vitamin A.
• Alcohol consumption may negatively affect vitamin A stores in liver.
Deficiency Health Effects • Xerophthalmia: inability to see in low lights. This is the most specific clinical effect of vitamin A deficiency. It has various stages including night blindness, conjunctival xerosis, Bitot’s spots, corneal xerosis, corneal ulceration and scarring.
• Reduced immune function: Vitamin A deficiency decreases immune function, so increases the risk of infectious morbidity and mortality, such as respiratory infection and diarrhea.
• Vitamin A deficiency impairs iron mobilization from stores.
Effects if Above Upper Limit The adverse effects of excess vitamin A are from excessive intake of Preformed Vitamin A (retinol). Preformed vitamin A toxicity (hypervitaminosis A) may be acute or chronic. Some symptoms are:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Headache and dizziness
• Blurred vision
• Muscular incoordination
• Liver abnormalities (liver is the main storage of Vitamin A)
• Teratogenicity: high doses of Vitamin A (≥ 7,800 mg/day) during the first trimester of pregnancy may cause infant birth defects such as teratogenicity.
• High doses of vitamin A (5,500-6,750 mg/day) may cause intracranial and skeletal abnormalities for infants.

High amounts of Provitamin A may turn the skin yellow-orange, but it will not cause other serious effects.

Note: People with high alcohol intake, preexisting liver disease, hyperlipidemia, or severe protein malnutrition should lower the intake Upper Limit.
External References Learn more at:
• The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine publication: Dietary Reference Intakes
• NIH (National Institutes of Health) article: Vitamin A
• article: Vitamin A: Benefits, Deficiency, Toxicity and More

Daily Value Age Group Recommended Daily Values
Female 31 to 50 years old: 5,000 IU
FDA (Based on 2000 calorie daily diet): 5,000 IU
As of 02/25/2022, FDA decreased Vitamin A Daily Value from 5000 IU to 900 mcg RAE (3000 IU).
0.3 mcg RAE = 1 IU
900 mcg RAE = 3000 IU
Learn more from FDA website.

Dietary Reference Intakes The nutrient Dietary Reference Intakes and nutrition facts is from Institute of Medicine of National Academies 2006. Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
US FDA Nutrition Education Nutrition facts knowledge are based on U.S. FOOD & DRUG Administration Nutrition Education Resources & Materials.
National Institutes of Health Nutrition facts knowledge are based on National Institutes of Health Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets.
Disclaimer The nutrient information provided here should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (such as your doctor) about your dietary requirements which are best for your overall health. We also recommend you to read organization or professional reference documents or articles mentioned, but not limited to, in this page. Any mentions and reference links in this page don't represent our endorsement of their services and advice.

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