A review of vitamin A equivalency of β-carotene in various food matrices for human consumption

Br J Nutr. 2014 Jun 28;111(12):2153-66. doi: 10.1017/S0007114514000166. Epub 2014 Feb 11.


Vitamin A equivalency of β-carotene (VEB) is defined as the amount of ingested β-carotene in μg that is absorbed and converted into 1 μg retinol (vitamin A) in the human body. The objective of the present review was to discuss the different estimates for VEB in various types of dietary food matrices. Different methods are discussed such as mass balance, dose-response and isotopic labelling. The VEB is currently estimated by the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) as 12:1 in a mixed diet and 2:1 in oil. For humans consuming β-carotene dissolved in oil, a VEB between 2:1 and 4:1 is feasible. A VEB of approximately 4:1 is applicable for biofortified cassava, yellow maize and Golden Rice, which are specially bred for human consumption in developing countries. We propose a range of 9:1-16:1 for VEB in a mixed diet that encompasses the IOM VEB of 12:1 and is realistic for a Western diet under Western conditions. For a 'prudent' (i.e. non-Western) diet including a variety of commonly consumed vegetables, a VEB could range from 9:1 to 28:1 in a mixed diet.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Fats / analysis*
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis*
  • Food, Fortified / analysis*
  • Functional Food / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, U.S., Health and Medicine Division
  • Nutritive Value
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • United States
  • Vegetables / chemistry
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A / analysis
  • Vitamin A / metabolism*
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage
  • beta Carotene / analysis
  • beta Carotene / metabolism*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Plant Oils
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin A