The Russian Tortoise 
Agrionemys horsfieldii ( Testudo horsfieldii)  
Vitamin A content of select
vegetables and greens.

Vitamin A plays an important role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and differentiation.

Vitamin A also helps regulate the immune system, which helps prevent or fight off infections by making white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses . This is the reason many vets wish to give vitamin A shots to tortoises with respiratory infections. However vitamin A injections are very toxic to tortoises (

Vitamin A promotes healthy surface linings of the eyes and the respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts . When those linings break down, it becomes easier for bacteria to enter the body and cause infection. Vitamin A also helps the skin and mucous membranes function as a barrier to bacteria and viruses .

Vitamin A comes in 2 main forms depending on the source. Vitamin A from animals is in the form of retinols. This is the most active form of the vitamin.

The other vitamin A source is provitamin A carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables. Provitamin A carotenoids is converted in the body to retinol. The most usable form of provitamin A carotenoids  is beta-carotene.

Beta-Carotene is found in large quantities in carrots and sweet potatoes (not recommended for Russian tortoises) and gives them their orange coloration. However most greens and weeds also contain considerable amounts. It would be extremely rare for a tortoise fed the diet recommend on this site to suffer from vitamin A deficiency.


Vegetable Vitamin A IU/100mg
cabbage 98
cactus pads 457
carrots (only feed occasionally) 16,706
chicory 5.717
collards 6.668
dandelion 10.161
endive 2,167
escarole 2,167
green leaf lettuce 7,405
kale 15,376
plantain (the weed, not
the fruit)
plantago major
purslane 8,300
radicchio 27
red leaf lettuce 7,492
romaine  5,807
spinach 9.377
sweet potatoes (not
recommended for Russian tortoises, included for
turnip greens 11,587
violets (American ) 15,000



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