Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Carrots are a source of vitamin A.

Carrots are a source of vitamin A.
beginning of content

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for your health. You get it from what you eat each day. Vitamin A deficiency is a rare and easily avoidable condition.

What is vitamin A?

Vitamin A is an important vitamin. It is also known as retinol.

You need vitamin A for your eyes, especially for being able to see at night. It is also important for your immune system for your skin.

You can only get it from food and drink. You can get it either from vitamin A in foods, or from molecules known as povitamin A carotenoids. These provitamin A carotenoids break down in your body to become Vitamin A.

What foods give you vitamin A?

Vitamin A is found only in foods from animals such as:

  • liver
  • butter
  • cheese
  • whole milk
  • egg yolk
  • fish.

It is in the fat in these foods, so there is less of it in low fat varieties of milk and cheese.

Provitamin A carotenoids are found in green leafy vegetables, orange/yellow-coloured fruit and vegetables like:

  • cabbage
  • carrot
  • lettuce
  • mango
  • spinach
  • sweet potato.

What is the recommended dose of vitamin A?

Most people in Australia get enough vitamin A in their diets.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin A for adult men and women is 0.9 and 0.7 mg for men and women, respectively.

Do I need vitamin A supplements?

Lots of people take vitamin supplements, but there is no good evidence that they help unless you have a deficiency. Australia’s best guide to how to eat healthily – the Australian Dietary Guidelines – doesn’t recommend them.

Vitamin supplements are expensive. They are best taken only on a doctor’s advice. Most people get the vitamins they need from a healthy diet, which has a wide variety of foods, including:

  • plenty of vegetables, of different types and colours, and legumes/beans
  • fruit
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain, and/or high cereal fibre varieties such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
  • lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
  • milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Who is at risk of vitamin A deficiency?

You can get vitamin A deficiency if you can’t absorb it from your food, such as if you:

Vitamin A deficiency symptoms and diagnosis

Vitamin A deficiency can cause trouble seeing, especially at night. It can also make it hard for you to fight infections.

Vitamin A deficiency is usually diagnosed following a blood test.

Vitamin A deficiency treatment

If your vitamin A levels are very low, or your doctor suspects you have a vitamin A deficiency, they may prescribe you vitamin A supplements.

Don’t take vitamin A supplements unless your doctors tells you to. Too much vitamin A in your body can cause serious problems, including nausea, hair loss, blurred eyesight, orange skin colour and an inability to control body movement. For pregnant women, too much vitamin A can cause birth defects.

Last reviewed: February 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 1320 results

Vitamin B

Vitamins naturally occur in food and are needed in very small amounts for various bodily functions such as energy production and making red blood cells. There are 13 vitamins that our body needs, eight of which make up the B-group (or B-complex) vitamins.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Vitamin D and vitamin D deficiency | Raising Children Network

Vitamin D helps bones grow, develop and stay strong. If youre worried you or your children have a vitamin D deficiency, read this article for what to do.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Vitamins and nutrition in pregnancy

Information on pregnancy vitamins and minerals including iron, folate, iodine, zinc, vitamin D and C, supplements, plus links to trusted resources.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Vitamins - common misconceptions

There are many misconceptions about vitamins and the health benefits they offer. Vitamins play an important role in keeping the body healthy. However, taking large doses of certain vitamins can actually be harmful. For most people, it is best to get the vitamins our bodies need from eating a variety of healthy, unprocessed foods rather than by taking supplements.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Vitamin D - Cancer Council Australia

What is vitamin D? How much sun do we need to maintain our vitamin D levels? Find information on vitamin D, including vitamin D deficiency.

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Vitamin D - BluePages

Find out if Vitamin D is likely to help.

Read more on e-hub Web Services - Australian National University (ANU) website

Vitamin D | Osteoporosis Australia

For most Australians, the main source of vitamin D is from exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) light from the sun. The amount of sun exposure required to produce adequate levels of vitamin D is relatively low.

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Kids' Health - Topics - Water soluble vitamins

This topic is about vitamin C and the B group vitamins - the water soluble vitamins. You can find out about the fat soluble vitamins - A, D, E and K in the topic 'More about vitamins'.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Vitamin A Capsules - myDr.com.au

Vitamin A Capsules - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Vitamins B6, B9 (Folate), B12 - BluePages

Find out if Vitamins B6, B9 (Folate), B12 are likely to help.

Read more on e-hub Web Services - Australian National University (ANU) website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback