Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that a person must obtain from food since the human body is incapable of producing it. The vitamin is integral to many processes, including proper immune function, reproduction, and skin health. There are different types of vitamin A, including retinol and beta carotene. Experts can calculate the total amount of vitamin A in food by measuring these individual varieties.
Animal liver is among the best sources of vitamin A because animals store vitamins in this organ. A mere three-ounce, pan-fried serving of beef liver contains almost 7,000 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A, which is over 700% of the Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily value (DV). Beef liver also contains copper, potassium, and protein.
Another great source of vitamin A is the humble sweet potato. With its skin on, a whole sweet potato provides 1,400 mcg of vitamin A, which is over 150% DV. The tuber also offers other vitamins, including vitamins B6 and C. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and potassium, as well, but lose many of their benefits when peeled.
Steaming a half-cup of spinach provides nearly 600 mcg of vitamin A, accounting for 64% DV. Like many other leafy green vegetables, spinach is also rich in other nutrients, primarily calcium and magnesium. It also provides small amounts of vitamin K and iron.
For most people, pumpkin pie is a fall staple, though its vitamin content may prompt you to eat it throughout the year. A single piece of pumpkin pie contains around 488 mcg of vitamin A, which is 54% DV. Commercial pumpkin pies also supply potassium, calcium, and magnesium. However, the high amount of sugar in most varieties makes it difficult to justify this food as a regular source of vitamins. Other, unsweetened pumpkin products may provide similar nutritional benefits.
According to the FDA, a half-cup of raw carrots accounts for 51% DV of vitamin A. Carrots are incredibly easy to fit into most diets, thanks to their low calorie counts. Plus, they are an ideal source of fiber. They also have low — but notable — quantities of vitamins B6, C, and E.
It may seem odd that ice cream could be a source of nutrition, but it is possible. Specifically, a single cup of soft serve French vanilla ice cream contains 278 mcg of vitamin A, which is over 30% DV. This is in addition to other nutrients, such as vitamin D and potassium. Though, like pumpkin pie, the sugar levels in ice cream make it hard to include with any frequency in a healthy diet.
Cheese is rich in calcium, like other dairy products, but certain varieties can also provide other important nutrients. A cup of part-skim ricotta cheese contains 264 mcg of vitamin A, about 30% DV. Additionally, ricotta cheese contains high levels of whey protein, which helps promote muscle growth and can reduce cholesterol levels.
A small, three-ounce serving of pickled Atlantic herring contains 219 mcg of vitamin A, which is almost a quarter of the DV. Because Atlantic herring is a fatty fish, it also provides plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help brain and heart health. Herring can also supply protein and vitamin D.
Most fruits are extremely healthy and full of vitamins, and cantaloupe is no exception. A half-cup of raw cantaloupe offers 135 mcg of vitamin A or 15% DV. Additionally, melons consist mainly of water and fiber, meaning they have extremely low calorie counts. Cantaloupes can also be a reliable provider of vitamin C.
Peppers are an easy inclusion into many diets because they can fit into so many different meals. Raw sweet red peppers are also a great way to increase vitamin A intake because a half-cup contains 13% DV. This, plus their vitamin C content and minimal calories, makes them a healthy choice. Sweet red peppers also contain a small amount of other vitamins, such as B6, E, and K.
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