Article Series

  1. Vitamin A - Benefits And Functions
  2. Vegan Vitamin A Foods

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Vegan Vitamin A Foods

Vegan Vitamin A Foods
Table Of Contents
  1. Yellow, orange, and red plants contain a lot of beta-carotene
  2. Vegetables
  3. Fruits
  4. Herbs and Spices
  5. Legumes
  6. Grains
  7. Nuts
  8. Vitamin A in Processed Foods

Pure vitamin A (retinol) is not present in plant-based foods. However, the daily requirement of vitamin A can also be met through a plant-based diet. Carotenoids, which are precursors of vitamin A, indirectly serve as a source of vitamin A. They are also known as provitamin A. Carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds that are classified as secondary plant substances. Beta-carotene is the most well-known of these carotenoid compounds, responsible for the yellow to red color of fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the carotenoids alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin also contribute to the formation of a significant portion of the vitamin 1. In total, the body can convert 50 carotenoids into vitamin A 2. The carotenoids lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin do not possess vitamin A activity 3. They are referred to as non-provitamin A carotenoids.

Vitamin A (Retinol) is sensitive to oxygen, heat, and sunlight, causing the loss of vitamin A 4. Therefore, foods containing vitamin A should be stored cool and dark. Cooking, freezing, and canning can significantly reduce the levels of vitamin A 5 6. For example, cooking vegetables results in only 33% of the original vitamin A content remaining 7.

By gently cooking the food, the carotenoids can be converted more effectively 8. Consuming vitamin A-rich foods together with a small amount of fat or oil enhances the absorption of carotenoids, leading to higher vitamin A levels in the blood 9 10 11.

The vitamin A content of foods is indicated as retinol equivalents, taking into account the corresponding conversion rates. The equivalents essentially describe the potential of vitamin A activity. An overview of the conversion rates can be found here.

Yellow, orange, and red plants contain a lot of beta-carotene

Fruits and vegetables with yellow, orange, and red colors are the best plant-based sources of vitamin A. They contain particularly high amounts of carotenoids. Another rule of thumb is that the more intense the color of the food, the higher the levels of carotenoids.

For a table of vitamin A-rich foods, click here.

We have compiled a list of selected foods rich in vitamin A that should be regularly consumed as part of a healthy and vitamin-rich diet. These are plant-based or vegan foods with high vitamin A content.


Carrots (835 µg per 100 g) are especially good sources of natural vitamin A. Beta-carotene is also found in large amounts in butternut squash (532 µg), pumpkin in general (426 µg), baked sweet potatoes with skin (961 µg), red bell pepper (157 µg), and tomato (42 µg).

Dark green vegetables also contain carotenoids, although they are masked by the green chlorophyll. Good sources in this regard are cooked kale (681 µg), cooked spinach (524 µg), romaine lettuce (436 µg), lollo rosso lettuce (375 µg), lamb's lettuce (355 µg), watercress (346 µg), pak choi (223 µg), lettuce (166 µg), shallots (104 µg), leeks (83 µg), and cooked broccoli (77 µg).

Studies also confirm that daily consumption of cooked and mashed green leafy vegetables or sweet potatoes has a positive effect on vitamin A storage in populations at higher risk of vitamin A deficiency. 12 13.

Carrots and spinach, especially when consumed with oil, also contribute a significant portion to meeting the daily requirement of vitamin A. 14. Cooked spinach, for example, is also considered one of the best sources of bioavailable provitamin A according to studies. 15.

For the table of vegetables rich in vitamin A, click here.


Even with fruit varieties such as cantaloupe melon (169 µg), apricot (96 µg), persimmon (81 µg), passion fruit (64 µg), and sour cherries (64 µg), it is relatively easy to meet the daily requirement of vitamin A. Mango (54 µg), papaya (47 µg), and watermelon (28 µg) are also rich in usable carotenoids.

Citrus fruits like grapefruit (46 µg) and mandarin (34 µg) should also not be overlooked in a vitamin A-rich diet.

Dried goji berries and apricots are extremely rich in vitamin A, with 1.34 mg and 633 µg, respectively.

The table shows which other fruits contain vitamin A.

Herbs and Spices

Fresh herbs like parsley (421 µg), dill (386 µg), basil (264 µg), and thyme (238 µg) also contain high amounts of vitamin A.

Here is the list of vitamin A-rich herbs and spices.


Legumes generally contain less vitamin A. Good sources within this group include sugar snap peas (54 µg), green peas (38 µg), and green beans (35 µg).


Grains are extremely low in carotenoids and therefore in vitamin A as well. The best source in this category is corn, with only 11 µg per 100 g. Here is the table of vitamin A content in grains.


Nuts and seeds, like grains, contain very little vitamin A. Pistachios are the best vitamin A source, providing 26 µg per 100 g.

The table shows which other seeds and nuts contain vitamin A.

Vitamin A in Processed Foods

Carrot juice (956 µg) and prune puree (100 µg) are rich in vitamin A. The provitamin A in carrot juice is highly absorbable by the body (high bioavailability) 16. This table shows other beverages and juices with vitamin A.

Retinol is often artificially added to breakfast cereals and multivitamin juices.