Vitamin A | Benefits, Sources and Health Advice

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, also known as retinol, has several important functions:

  • it helps your body’s natural defence against illness and infection (the immune system) work properly
  • helps vision in dim light
  • keeps skin and the lining of some parts of the body, such as the nose, healthy

Good sources of vitamin A:

  • carrots
  • sweet-potato
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • fortified low-fat spreads
  • milk and yoghurt

You can get vitamin A by including good sources of beta-carotenein your diet, as the body can change this into vitamin A.

The main food sources of beta-carotene are:

  • yellow, red and green (leafy) vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers
  • yellow fruit, such as mango, papaya and apricots

Good sources of vitamin K

The amount of vitamin A adults (19-64 years) need is:

  • 0.7mg a day for men
  • 0.6mg a day for women

You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need from your diet.

Any vitamin A your body doesn’t need immediately is stored for future use. This means you don’t need it every day.

What happens if I take too much vitamin K?

According to some research, having more than an average of 1.5mg a day of vitamin A over many years may affect your bones, making them more likely to fracture when you’re older.

Many multivitamins contain vitamin A. Other supplements, such as fish liver oil, are also high in vitamin A.

If you take supplements containing vitamin A, make sure your daily intake from food and supplements doesn’t exceed 1.5mg. If you eat liver every week, don’t take supplements that contain vitamin A.

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What does the Department of Health advise?

You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take a supplement that contains vitamin A, don’t take too much because this could be harmful.

Liver is a very rich source of vitamin A. Don’t eat liver or liver products, such as pâté, more than once a week. You should also be aware of how much vitamin A there is in any supplements you take.

Too much Vitamin A is not good, this means:

  • not eating liver or liver products, such as pâté, more than once a week, or having smaller portions of these
  • taking no more than 1.5mg of vitamin A a day in supplements (including fish liver oil) if you don’t eat liver or liver products
  • not taking any supplements containing vitamin A (including fish liver oil) if you eat liver once a week

Having an average of 1.5mg a day or less of vitamin A from diet and supplements combined is unlikely to cause any harm.


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