Honey is poor in vitamin A. Only certain honey varieties have some beta-carotene, that metabolized by the body to vitamin A.
How much vitamin A do we need a day?
The recommended daily intake of vitamin A is 700 mcg RAE for women and 900 mcg RAE for men. Children require lower dosages.
RAE stands for “Retinol Activity Equivalents”. Retinol is found mainly in animal-based foods and dietary supplements.
Vitamin A from plant-based sources is found in the form of carotenoids, and it’s less bioavailable. Hence, people who follow a plant-based diet and vegans should consume a wide variety of plant-based foods high in vitamin A.
Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale, pumpkin, red peppers, mangos, papaya, as well as turnip, beet, and collard greens are particularly rich in carotenoids. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants and converted into vitamin A by the human body.
Keep in mind that vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. The body stores excess amounts of vitamin A coming from animal-based sources and retinol (or its ester forms) supplements. Thus, extremely high daily doses of vitamin A may lead to toxicity!
On the other hand, eating high amounts of vitamin A from plant-based sources is pretty safe.
Does honey have any vitamin A?
It’s a common belief that honey is rich in vitamin A. But, honey contains negligible amounts of vitamin A.[1,2]
In fact, honey have some carotenoids, like beta-carotene. The carotenoid content depends on the variety. Cedrus, chestnut and chasteberry honeys have the highest beta-carotene content. Thyme, citrus, and pine honeys have fewer carotenoids.
Health benefits of vitamin A
Vitamin A is necessary for many functions of the human body. Above all, it’s necessary for good vision. It helps absorb light in the retinal receptors, and it supports the normal functioning of the cornea.
Also, vitamin A is vital for good immune function, reproduction, and in the normal functioning of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.
Health benefits of honey
Honey is particularly rich in phenolic and flavonoid compounds. Thus, it has potent antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. So, it is believed that it might play a beneficial role in certain inflammatory diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, arthritis, as well as neurodegenerative diseases.[5,6,7,8]
Furthermore, honey may be beneficial for gastrointestinal tract disorders and gut microbiota. Honey has probiotic properties! Healthy gut microbiome has been linked to increased metabolism and a better immune system that fights pathogens more effectively.
Hence, honey is considered a functional food with therapeutic and preventive properties.
What’s the best time to consume honey?
Actually, honey is almost 100% sugar. Hence, the best time to consume honey is in the morning. The body stores most sugar as muscle glycogen. In contrast, the body stores more sugar as body fat when consumed late at night.
Additionally, antioxidants in honey may be more beneficial throughout the day. They protect us from oxidative stress due to air pollution, sunlight, smoking etc.
So, we would benefit from consuming reasonable amounts of honey, as part of a well-balanced diet. You’ll find a wide variety of organic honey brands on iHerb.