While free retinol is not generally found in foods, retinyl palmitate, a precursor and storage form of retinol, is found in animal-derived foods such as liver, milk, milk products, egg yolks, cheese, and fish.

Plant foods usually contain vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene (provitamin A). Plants contain carotenoids, some of which are precursors for vitamin A (e.g., alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin). Yellow, red and green vegetables and fruits, such as carrots, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, beetroot, papaya, and broccoli contain significant quantities of provitamin A carotenoids.

An additional sources of vitamin A are fruit and vegetables drinks, grains and fats/oils from animal or plant source. Depending on the diet these additional sources can contribute up to 30% of the vitamin A intake. (53)  

The principal forms of preformed vitamin A (retinol) in supplements are retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate. Beta-carotene is also a common source of vitamin A in supplements, and many supplements provide a combination of retinol and beta-carotene (34).

Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed by Dr. Adrian Wyss on 31.08.2017