Vitamin A History:

Did you know that vitamin A was the first vitamin discovered?

There are all these vitamins we know of now, but if you actually thought about it, the first letter in the alphabet makes sense to name that very first vitamin discovered.

In the early 1900s researchers first recognized that a certain substance in animal fats and fish oils was necessary for the growth of young animals.

That substance was eventually named vitamin A.

Vitamin A Benefits :

Vitamin A’s most clearly defined role is one that it plays in vision.

Metabolites of the vitamin combine with certain proteins to make visual pigments that help the eye adjust from bright to dim light.

That process uses up a lot of vitamin A and if not replaced can cause night blindness.

Vitamin A is also important for normal growth and reproduction – especially proper development of bones and teeth.

Studies show that vitamin A is essential for normal sperm formation, for growth of a healthy fetus, and for the synthesis of steroid hormones.

Vitamin A also is important for preserving healthy skin – inside and out!

Taking extra vitamin A won’t make your sagging skin suddenly beautiful, but a deficiency will cause skin problems.

Vegetables High in Vitamin A:

Carotenoids, found in plants, are a group of pigmented compounds, including provitamins, that the body can convert to vitamin A.

Bright orange beta-carotene is the most important carotenoid because it yields more vitamin A than alpha- or gamma-carotenes.

Foods like orange and yellow fruits and vegetables have high vitamin A activity because of the carotenoids they contain.

Generally, the deeper the color of the fruit or vegetable, the higher the concentration of carotenoids it has.

Carrots are especially good sources of beta-carotene and therefore high in vitamin A value.

Green vegetables, such as spinach, asparagus, and broccoli, also contain large amounts of carotenoids, but their intense green pigment, courtesy of chlorophyll, masks the tell-tale orange-yellow color.

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How To Meet Your Vitamin A Requirements:

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A is 800 retinol equivalents for women and 1,000 retinol equivalents for men.

Retinol equivalents are the preferred measure for vitamin A because this method takes into account both forms of the vitamin – retinol and carotenoids.

One retinol equivalent is equal to 3.33 international units (IU) or 10 IU of beta-carotene.

Assuming you get the vitamin from both sources, the recommended dietary allowance is equivalent to about 4,000 IU for women and 5,000 IU for men.

However, it is not necessary to obtain the recommended dietary allowance each day.

As vitamin A is not soluble in water, you do not excrete excess amounts of the vitamin.

Your liver stores vitamin A and the body can tap into the reserves whenever dietary intake is too low.

For most adults it takes months to deplete stored amounts.

As long as you are eating plenty of yellow and green vegetables, your overall intake should be sufficient to provide the vitamin A your body needs.

Foods High in Vitamin A :

(Foods high in vitamin A listed in order of most bang for the buck, so to speak):

FoodQuantityInternational Units (IU)
Sweet potatoes, baked (peeled after baking)1 medium28,805
Pumpkin, canned1/2 cup27,018
Sweet potatoes, candied1 medium25,188
Spinach, canned, drained1 cup18,781
Sweet potatoes, canned1 cup15,966
Spinach, cooked, fresh or frozen1 cup14,790
Carrot, raw1 medium12,767
Cantaloupe1/2 medium12,688
Peas and carrots, frozen (boiled, drained)1 cup12,418
Apricot halves, dried1 cup9,412
Turnip greens, cooked1 cup7,917
Apricots, dried, cooked, unsweetened1 cup5,908
Vegetarian soups, ready to serve1 cup5,878
Cabbage, spoon or bok choy, cooked1 cup4,366
Collards, cooked1 cup3,491
Broccoli, cooked, drained1 cup3,481
Apricots, canned in heavy syrup1 cup3,173
Red pepper, cooked½ cup2,577
Watermelon, raw1 wedge1,764
Asparagus1 cup1,472
Tomatoes, canned (solid and liquid)1 cup1,450
Apricots, raw3 medium1,110
Tomatoes, raw1 medium841
Lettuce, cos or romaine1 cup780
Tomato juice, canned½ cup674
Plums, canned with syrup1 cup668
Prunes, dried, medium1 cup649
Peach halves, dried, cooked, unsweetened1 cup508
Peaches, raw1 medium465
Endive, curly½ cup297
Corn, fresh or frozen½ cup203
Orange juice, unsweetened, fresh or frozen½ cup194
Corn1 ear167

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