Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including vision, immune system support, and skin health. There are two main sources of vitamin A:
- Preformed Vitamin A (Retinoids):
- Animal-Based Foods: Foods of animal origin are rich in preformed vitamin A. These include liver, fish liver oils (such as cod liver oil), egg yolks, and dairy products like whole milk, cheese, and butter.
- Fortified Foods: Some processed foods are fortified with vitamin A, particularly in regions where vitamin A deficiency is a concern. These may include fortified breakfast cereals, milk, and some types of margarine.
- Provitamin A Carotenoids (Carotenes):
- Plant-Based Foods: Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of provitamin A carotenoids, which the body can convert into vitamin A. Beta-carotene is the most well-known carotenoid and is found in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, butternut squash, and pumpkin.
- Fruits: Mangoes, apricots, and cantaloupes are also good sources of carotenoids.
- Vegetables: Spinach, collard greens, and other leafy green vegetables are rich in carotenoids.
- Orange and Red Fruits and Vegetables: These foods, such as red peppers, tomatoes, and watermelon, are high in carotenoids.
- Fortified Foods: Some food products may be fortified with carotenoids, such as orange juice fortified with beta-carotene.
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It’s important to consume an adequate amount of vitamin A through a balanced diet to support overall health. Both preformed vitamin A from animal sources and provitamin A carotenoids from plant sources contribute to your vitamin A intake. The body can convert provitamin A carotenoids into the active form of vitamin A as needed, making a diet rich in fruits and vegetables essential for maintaining adequate vitamin A levels.