What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is not one vitamin but consists of a group of compounds with vitamin A activity.1 Vitamin A is found in many animal-sourced foods such as eggs and meat. Many plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables, have colorful pigments called provitamin A carotenoids which can convert to vitamin A in the body.1,2 The most commonly known provitamin A carotenoid is beta-carotene.
Benefits of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for reproduction, growth and development, health of cells that line all surfaces of the body, gene expression, immune system function, eye health, and vision.1
Foods with Provitamin A Carotenoids
Oranges and 100% orange juice are one of the main contributors of a provitamin A carotenoid called beta-cryptoxanthin in the U.S. diet.3 An abundance of provitamin A carotenoids can be found in sweet potatoes, pumpkin and cantaloupe, making these foods reddish orange.
An 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice supplies 2% of the recommended Daily Value for vitamin A.*
Vitamin A Deficiency
Inadequate intake of vitamin A can lead to vision disturbances, blindness, a higher risk for illness, and impairment of iron transport within the body.1 Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the U.S. but occurs in many developing countries.4
100% orange juice has all 3 provitamin A carotenoids that can form vitamin A in the body – beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.5
Life Stage Benefits
Below are age specific benefits vitamin A provides the body:
- Plays a critical role in the development of a baby.1
- Too much vitamin A, such as in high dose supplements with greater than 100% of the recommended daily amount, can be harmful. Foods rich in provitamin A carotenoids are one of the safest ways to consume vitamin A.1,2
- Supports healthy skin, mucus membranes, and other cells that line the inside and outside of the body.1
Kids, Teens & Young Adults
- Necessary for the maintenance of the immune system so that the body can naturally fight off infection.1
- Necessary for growth and development and participates in the expression of genes.1
- Needed for healthy corneas, the clear outer covering of the eye.1
- Participates in processes that allow the retina of the eye to receive incoming images; it also allows the eye to adjust to dim light.1
*Values based on a 2000 calorie diet. Average of USDA SR28 database entries for 09206 and 09209 were used for calculating Daily Values. FDA rounding rules applied when calculating percent DV based upon 2018 rules. Information is not intended for labeling food in packaged form. Nutrient values may vary based on manufacturer, brand, or product types.
- Vitamin A, In: Dietary Reference Intakes. Institute of Medicine. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC. 2006.
- Carotenoids, In: Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Institute of Medicine. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC. 2000.
- Murphy et al. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112:222-229.
- Micronutrient Deficiencies. Vitamin A Deficiency. World Health Organization. 2018.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28 (slightly revised). US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory; May 2016.