a person eating carrots
Healthy Living

Foods to Increase Vitamin A and Boost Your Immune System

Sep 14 2022

When mom used to say that you’d better eat your carrots, she may have been on to something. It turns out that carrots are one of a number of vitamin A-rich foods.

But how does vitamin A support your immune system, and how can you include more vitamin A in your healthy diet? We cover all that and more here.

How does vitamin A support your body?

Many people know that vitamin A plays a role in healthy vision, but this essential nutrient does much more for the body. It affects the function of the immune and reproductive systems as well as helps vital organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys do their jobs. 

People who don’t get enough vitamin A in their diets may notice some uncomfortable symptoms of a deficiency. They include dry skin and eyes, bumpy skin, night blindness, hair loss and wounds that don’t seem to heal.

Increase your vitamin A intake with these foods

Vitamin A is one of the nutrients the human body cannot make on its own, so people must meet their daily requirement through food. You can find vitamin A in meats, fruits and vegetables.

The list below shows some of the best sources of foods rich with vitamin A:

  • Beef liver: One serving (three ounces) of beef liver packs 6,582 mcg of vitamin A, well over the recommended daily value of the vitamin.
  • Cantaloupe: For a sweet treat that packs some vitamin A, try a bowl of cantaloupe. One half-cup of this coral-colored melon contains 135 mcg of vitamin A as well as vitamin C.
  • Carrots: As referenced earlier, one-half cup of raw carrots gives you 459 mcg of vitamin A, just over half of the daily recommended amount. Add it to your salad or enjoy it as a snack with your favorite dip.
  • Herring: Pickled Atlantic herring is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and protein. You also get 219 mcg of vitamin A in a three-ounce serving of the fish.
  • Mango: The orange flesh of a mango is not only sweet and packed with fiber, but it also provides 112 mcg of vitamin A.
  • Spinach: Toss some spinach into your salad, soup or pasta for a healthy dose of vitamin A. One-half cup of the boiled leafy green contains 573 mcg of the vitamin as well as iron and magnesium.
  • Sweet potato: Swap your regular baked potato for a sweet potato for an impressive 1,403 mcg of beta carotene (a form of vitamin A) along with some B6, vitamin C and potassium.
  • Sweet red pepper: One half-cup of sweet red pepper has 117 mcg of vitamin A in addition to vitamins C and B6, folate and antioxidants.

If you’re concerned about your vitamin A levels, it may be time to speak to your primary care provider about your nutritional needs.

Need a primary care provider? Find a Mercy Health one near you.

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