While many people assume that all vegans are deficient in vitamin A, this is far from the truth. Many vegan sources of this essential nutrient include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, and spinach. You may be surprised to learn that sweet potato contains more than twice as much vitamin A as a serving of beef liver! So, if you’re looking to boost your intake of this vital nutrient, there’s no need to eat animal products. Just reach for some delicious vegan foods instead.
Vegan Sources of Vitamin A
There are many different sources of vitamin A, but one of the most common is retinol. This is the ‘active’ form of vitamin A in dairy products, fish liver, and egg yolks. Meat is not a good source of vitamin A, however. The best sources of vitamin A are from plants, and those sources are called carotenoids. Carotenoids are pigments that give plants their green color. Some fruits and vegetables are red or orange.
The body needs Vitamin A to function properly, including cell reproduction and growth. Vitamin A is also essential for vision. Carotenoids, also known as “beta-carotene”, are naturally occurring compounds in various plant foods.
Beta-carotene is the orange pigment responsible for the orange hue of fruits and vegetables. These compounds can also be found in various vitamin supplements. But the question is, do they contribute to the body’s need for vitamin A?
Animal products are a natural source of vitamin A, while some plant-based foods are fortified with it. Many of these foods are reinforced with the beta-carotene compound (RAE). It is possible to meet your daily requirement of vitamin A from plant-based sources, but you must focus on eating orange and dark green vegetables. This way, you will get all the necessary vitamins without overdoing it.
ALA is found in various plant foods, including flax and chia seeds. Ground chia and flax seeds can provide nearly half of your daily requirement of ALA. Both chia and flax seeds are easily digestible, but they are not as absorbent as flax seeds unless they are ground. Flax seeds can be absorbed easily when ground, but if they are not, they are indigestible.
Algal oil is one of the few vegan sources of EPA and DHA. It is equivalent in health benefits to seafood, and capsules containing algal oil are as effective as cooked salmon. Animal studies show that EPA and DHA from algal oil are especially beneficial to the body. This fatty acid is also known as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
Vegan sources of vitamin A DHA include algae and chia seeds. However, vegan DHA is not a daily dietary supplement. The algae is an eco-friendly and sustainable source of this essential vitamin. It is also free of any form of animal products, including fish. So, it may not be as effective as fish-based DHA, but it can be a good alternative to the dietary supplement. This article discusses the benefits of vegan sources of vitamin A DHA.
Depending on your diet, vegans might need up to twice as much iron as non-vegans. That’s because heme-iron found in meat is easier for the body to use than non-heme iron. Because the former is harder to absorb, vegans may need to supplement their diet with extra iron and their daily allowance. Green peas, for example, contain 1.23 mg of iron, about 6.8% of the recommended daily allowance (DV). Morel mushrooms have an iron content of 8.04 mg per cup, nearly half the DV.
While many of us think of vitamin A and zinc as being found in animal products, they are a byproduct of human consumption. A vegan diet is not low in these essential nutrients, so we must ensure that we get plenty of these from plant sources. Zinc is found in large quantities in nuts and dried products. For example, 100g of lentils has five milligrams of zinc, decreasing to just one milligram once it is cooked. The same applies to Vitamin A, which requires at least two grams of zinc daily.
While you can get a small amount of Vitamin B12 from plant sources, you should be aware that it is not the most reliable source. Studies have found that about 20% of over-60s suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency. The younger people who consume animal products are less likely to suffer from this problem. However, you can still acquire vitamin B12 from vegan sources without consuming animal products. Modern farming practices do not expose animals to harmful bacteria that can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
A vegan diet can provide all body’s nutrients, including vitamin A. However, some nutrients, such as vitamin B12, are not as readily available from plant sources. Vegan sources of vitamin A include retinol, ALA, EPA, and DHA. These compounds can also be found in various vitamin supplements.
Aurelia is the Editor-in-Chief of The Graceful Kitchen, a vegan lifestyle blog that focuses on delicious, nutritious, and ethical eating. A lifelong vegan, Aurelia is passionate about sharing her love of plant-based cuisine with others. She is a regular contributor to several online and print publications, and has been interviewed by major news outlets about the benefits of a vegan diet. In her free time, Aurelia enjoys cooking, hiking, and spending time with her cats.