- Vitamin A helps to keep your body cells healthy and maintain a healthy immune system.
- Fruits and vegetables — especially orange, red and yellow ones — are an excellent source of vitamin A and carotenes.
- Maintaining a balanced diet is the best way to get the nutrients you need for good health.
Why should I include vitamin A in my diet?
Vitamin A helps to keep your body’s cells healthy and maintain a healthy immune system.
Vitamin A is considered an essential vitamin. This means that your body cannot produce it. Your body relies on a diet that includes vitamin A. Some fruits and vegetables contain provitamin-A carotenoids, including beta-carotene. These undergo a reaction in your body to form vitamin A. This conversion doesn’t happen with animal sources of vitamin A.
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What are the natural sources of vitamin A?
Fruit and vegetables
Sometimes the colour of a food can indicate its nutrients. Eating different coloured fruits and vegetables increases the variety of vitamins you get. Fruits and vegetables — especially red, orange and yellow ones — are excellent sources of vitamin A and carotenes.
Vitamin A is most concentrated in liver and fish oils. Milk, cheese and yoghurt have many health benefits, including calcium and protein. They are also rich in fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A.
Eggs, particularly egg yolks, are another excellent source of vitamin A.
Full-fat dairy foods are a good source of vitamin A. But the Australian Dietary Guidelines state that choosing full-fat varieties can increase the saturated fat and energy (kilojoule) content in your diet.
What if I’m on a restrictive diet?
The best way to give your body enough vitamins is to eat a varied diet. If you are on a vegan, vegetarian or other diet that restricts the range of foods you eat, you may need to take vitamin supplements to avoid deficiency and stay healthy.
Before taking vitamin supplements, speak with your doctor or an accredited dietitian.
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Take care when taking a particular vitamin as a supplement, since this might mean your body has a lot of this vitamin and not enough of other essential nutrients.
Vitamin-rich food has other nutrients, which help your body to absorb and use the vitamins.
The way you prepare your food also affects how well vitamins are absorbed. For example, cutting up or cooking vitamin A-rich food will help you get the most out of it.
What is a balanced diet?
To maintain a balanced diet, it’s important to monitor what you eat and drink. You should have a variety of nutritious foods from all five food groups every day.
The 5 food groups are:
- vegetables and legumes/beans — at least 5 serves daily
- fruit — 2 serves daily
- lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans — 1 to 3 serves a day, depending on your age (and during pregnancy, 3-4 serves a day are recommended)
- milk, yoghurt cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat — at least 2-3 serves daily, with the minimum amount varying based on your age, sex and life stage
- grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties — the number of daily wholegrain cereal serves you need varies based on your age and life stage, ranging from 4 serves daily for children to 6 serves daily for adult males under 70 years and adult females under 50 years of age
Aim to limit takeaway foods, such as pizza and fried foods, to once weekly or less. Choose water rather than sugary drinks. Limit sweet foods, like cakes and muffins, and salty, processed foods, like salami and chips.
Drink no more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks per day. For pregnant and breastfeeding people, the safest option is to not drink any alcohol.
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Last reviewed: May 2022