Vitamin A is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Unlike water-soluble vitamins, excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body, and if consumed too much, can reach dangerous levels. You can learn more about these fat-soluble vitamins by checking out my Micronutrient Monday series. 

What is the Role of Vitamin A in the Body?

Vitamin A supports many systems throughout the body and is essential for normal vision, immune support and reproduction. Vitamin A is also essential in supporting organs, such as the heart and kidneys function correctly.

How Much Vitamin A Do I Need?

Health Canada recommends healthy males consume approximately 900 micrograms RAE each day. They also recommend healthy women consume roughly 700 micrograms RAE daily. The amount of vitamin A that our bodies need can vary depending on many factors including, pregnancy, lactation and age. You can find a complete list of recommended intakes on Health Canada’s website
RAE stands for Retinol Activity Equivalents, and is a measurement of the content and activity of vitamin A. Vitamin A was previously measured in international units (IU), and you may still see vitamin A measured in these units in some places The conversion of IU to micrograms RAE is, 1 IU retinol = 0.3 mcg RAE.


Am I At Risk of Vitamin A Deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency is rare in Canada and the US. It usually occurs in developing countries due to the lack of access to vitamin A-rich foods. Some populations are at an increased risk of developing vitamin A deficiency including,
    • Premature infants
    • Infants and children in developing countries
    • Pregnant and lactating women in developing countries
    • Individuals with cystic fibrosis

The most common symptom of vitamin A is xerophthalmia. Early signs of xerophthalmia include, reduced ability to see in low-light and night blindness.

    Where Can I Find Vitamin A?

    There are two different kinds of vitamin A,

      • Pre-formed vitamin A 
      • Provitamin A

    Provitamin A is commonly found in plant products, including fruits and vegetables, while pre-formed vitamin A can be found in meat, fish, poultry and dairy products. 

    Some foods that are particularly rich in vitamin A include, 

      • Beef liver 
      • Sweet potato 
      • Spinach 
      • Carrots 
      • Ricotta cheese 
      • Atlantic herring 
      • Cantaloupe 
      • Mango 
      • Red sweet pepper
      • Broccoli

    Oysters on ice.

    Dietary Supplements

    Vitamin A can also be found in supplements on its own or in combination with other vitamins such as multivitamins. Supplements may contain both preformed and pro-vitamin A, and often state the amount of each form on the bottle.

    Interaction with Medications

    Vitamin A can interact with some medications. Additionally, some medications can impact vitamin A levels in the body. Some medications to look out for include,

      • Orlistat
      • Retinoids

    Additionally, vitamin A can be found in many prescription medications. Consuming supplements in combination with these medications can lead to dangerously high levels of vitamin A in the body. It’s important to chat with your doctor or healthcare team before starting any new supplements. 

    For more on the role of vitamins and minerals in promoting health and supporting our bodies, check out the Micronutrient Monday series.

    Have more questions about micronutrients, or want to give your diet a healthy boost? Book a FREE discovery call today!