Papaya is a good dietary source of vitamin A. It contains 68 mcg RAE of vitamin A, or 7.5% of the recommended daily intake per serving.
Health benefits of vitamin A
Vitamin A is vital for good health. It’s involved in many functions of the body.
For instance, vitamin A plays a key role in vision. It helps absorb light in the retinal receptors, and supports the normal functioning of the cornea.
Furthermore, vitamin A is necessary for the proper immune function, reproduction, and the normal functioning of the heart, lungs, kidneys, as well as other organs.
How much vitamin A do we need a day?
The recommended daily dose of vitamin A is 900 mcg and 700 mcg for men and women, respectively.
On the other hand, too much vitamin A from supplements or certain animal-based foods may cause side effects. Extremely high dosages of vitamin A can be toxic, as the body stores excess vitamin A in the liver.
Vitamin A is naturally present in two forms. Animal-based foods contain retinol. Also known as preformed vitamin A.
In contrast, plant-based foods contain carotenoids, which are also known as provitamin A. The body converts carotenoids to retinol in order to utilize it.
Thus, vitamin A is measured in mcg RAE. RAE stands for “Retinol Activity Equivalents”.
Is papaya a good dietary source of vitamin A?
Papaya is rich in vitamin A. It contains 47 mcg RAE per 100 g. A typical 1-cup (145 g) serving provides 68 mcg RAE of vitamin A. This amount is 7.5% of the recommended daily intake.
Actually, papaya is pretty rich in carotenoids. A serving has 397 mcg beta-carotene, 2.9 mcg alpha-carotene, 854 mcg beta-cryptoxanthin, 2,650 mcg lycopene, and 129 mcg lutein and zeaxanthin!
Only beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin are converted to retinol by the body. That’s why they’re also called as provitamin A.
Other carotenoids, such as lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, are not converted to vitamin A. Hence, they’re referred to as non-provitamin A carotenoids. But, we should get high amounts from diet. They have great health benefits as well.
Are other papaya products high in vitamin A?
Dried papaya is also high in vitamin A. It has 62 mcg RAE of vitamin A per 100 g, or 25 mcg RAE of vitamin A per serving, which is about 3% DV (Daily Value).
Moreover, papaya juice has 18 mcg RAE of vitamin A per 100 mL, or 45 mg RAE per serving. Hence, an 8 fl oz glass of papaya juice provides 5% DV.
You better avoid consuming dried papaya, canned papaya, or papaya juice, though. These foods are particularly high in sugars.
Common foods high in vitamin A
Animal-based foods. such as dairy products, eggs, fish, and organ meats are good dietary sources of vitamin A.
For instance, an egg contains 75 mcg RAE of vitamin A, or 8% DV, while a serving of salmon provides 59 mcg RAE, or 7% DV.
Beef liver is the richest food in vitamin A, though. But, we shouldn’t consume too much. It has extremely high amounts of vitamin A that could cause vitamin A toxicity. Just a serving of beef liver provides 731% DV!
On the other hand, there are many plant-based foods high in vitamin A, which can contribute to meet our daily requirements.
Common plant-based foods high in carotenoids (provitamin A) are sweet potatoes, spinach, carrot, turnip greens, dandelion greens, broccoli, red pepper, tomato, cantaloupe, pumpkin, summer squash, mango, and apricots.
Other health benefits of papayas
Papaya has great health benefits. Above all, it may protect from many oxidative stress-related diseases, as it’s particularly high in antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants fight chronic inflammation, which has been associated with cancer, diabetes, and heart disease![3,4]
Moreover, papaya pulp and seeds may help reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
In addition, papaya seeds are edible. They’re particularly high in phenolic compounds and carotenoids.