Vitamin A is a family of fat-soluble vitamins (they dissolve in fat). Retinol is one of the most usable forms of vitamin A. Retinol is found in animal foods such as liver and eggs and in some fortified food products such as cold cereal.

Vitamin A is a very important vitamin. It plays an important role in the formation and maintenance of healthy skin, hair, and mucous membranes. Vitamin A also helps us to see in dim light and is necessary for proper bone growth, tooth development, and fertility. Vitamin A prevents night blindness and other eye problems as well as some skin disorders such as acne. It enhances immunity, may help to heal gastrointestinal ulcers and is needed for maintenance and repair of tissue that makes up the skin and mucous membranes

More than 50,000 IU a day can cause joint pain, hair loss, itching, dry skin, weakness and fatigue.

Vitamin A and the immune system

Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system. Studies indicate that vitamin A may help lymphocytes function more effectively. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that fights infections.

What foods provide vitamin A?

Natural (not man made) vitamin A is found in animal foods such as whole eggs, whole milk and animal liver. Foods that contain significant amounts include apricots, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, dandelion greens, garlic, kale, mustard greens, papayas, peaches, pumpkin, read peppers, spinach, spirulina, and sweet potatoes. Fortified foods such as fortified breakfast cereals also provide vitamin A. Vitamin A carotenoids are abundant in darkly colored fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin A is also found in alfalfa, borage leaves, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, kelp, lemongrass, and mullein. Animal sources of vitamin A are up to six times as strong as vegetable sources, but you should use caution if you consume organ meats (heart, liver).

Sometimes vitamin A is lost during the process of storing and cooking foods. By following the directions below, you can help retain the vitamin A in your foods.

  • Keep vegetables (except sweet potatoes and winter squash) and fruits covered and refrigerated during storage
  • If possible, serve fruits and vegetables raw.
  • Steam vegetables
  • Braise, bake, or broil meats instead of frying.
    • Vitamin A is lost in the fat during frying.

Bone broth and vitamin A

Bone broth made from slow-cooked marrow bones is high in vitamin A. When cooking or buying bone broth, look for broth made with grass-fed (and finished) beef. Ideally the beef will also be organic. As a bonus, bone broth also contains several essential amino acids, and can be consumed during a fast giving your gut a rest from inflammatory foods.


A deficiency in vitamin A can cause dry hair, dry skin, dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea, poor growth and or night blindness. Taking large amounts of vitamin A (more than 100,000 IU daily) can be toxic to the liver.