Vegetables are the primary source of vitamin A in the human diet. If you eat a diet rich and varied in vegetables on a regular basis, you can probably stop reading this , because I am willing to bet you get enough vitamin A in your diet.
If this doesn’t sound like you , don’t feel bad because the majority of Canadians are in your boat. We don’t eat enough vegetables which means that we are at risk for an inadequate intake of Vitamin A, arguably one of the most important vitamins in the human diet.
According to Health Canada Data from 2004, around 40% of Canadians ( depending on age/gender) do not consume enough vitamin A from food, which means we may not be enjoying its extensive range of health benefits.
Vitamin A’s role in the body:
1. Vision/ Eye Health
2. Skin Health
3. Antioxidant Activity
4. Immune System Health
5. Numerous other functions
Top 5 Richest Sources of Vitamin A
1. Sweet Potato: A single medium sweet potato contains over 100% of your vitamin A intake for the day!
2. Leafy Greens ( Collards/ Kale/Chard/Spinach): A half cup of these greens, cooked, contains about 66% of your days vitamin A requirement, depending on gender.
3. Whole Eggs: Two whole eggs contain about 33% of your daily vitamin A requirement, depending on gender.
4. Carrots: A medium raw carrot contains about 66% of your daily vitamin A requirement, depending on gender.
5. Butternut Squash: This seasonal Canadian favourite contains about 75% of your vitamin A requirement, depending on gender, in 1/2 cup cooked. If you happen to enjoy pumpkin, that contains even more!
Top 5 Alternate Sources of Vitamin A
In case the foods in the first list sound absolutely unappealing to you, here is a plan B.
1. Herring/Mackerel/Bluefin Tuna
2. Cheese (multiple varieties)
3. Cow’s Milk/Soy Milk
5. Red peppers (cooked)
Please keep in mind that the foods in the first list contain quite a bit more vitamin A than the foods in the second. Regardless, if you aren’t eating the foods in either of these lists regularly, it is time to start because there is a good chance you are compromising your opportunity at adequate vitamin A intake and optimal health in doing so.
If this sounds like you, At least now you know exactly what you need to do to fix it!
Andy De Santis RD MPH