Carrots and Your Eyes: What’s the Real Story?
Okay, so is the whole, “carrots give you amazing eyesight” thing legitimate or not?
Well…yes, but not the way you might think. You may have heard that carrots give you super night vision. That’s actually leftover propaganda from World War II, when the British were trying to keep the Germans from finding out about their newfangled radar systems.
But carrots, along with other vegetables and whole foods, do contain both vitamin A and beta-carotene.
These are the two most important nutrients for promoting eye health and preventing vision loss. But what are these vitamins and what makes them so special?
The term “vitamin A” doesn’t refer to just one thing, but to an entire group of fat-soluble compounds. Two forms of it are available in the foods we eat: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A carotenoids.
Animal products like liver, fish, meat, and dairy products are great sources of preformed vitamin A, while the provitamin form comes from leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products, fruits, and some vegetable oils.
Why Is Vitamin A Important For Eyesight?
One of the most important benefits vitamin A has for our eyes is reducing the risk of macular degeneration and vision loss.
It also boosts the immune system, helping soothe eye inflammation and decreasing our chance of developing eye infections.
Beta-carotene is another provitamin carotenoid. It’s actually what gives many vegetables their coloring, such as carrots and peppers.
Unlike vitamin A, you can only get beta-carotene from fruits and vegetables, not animal products.
Aside from carrots and peppers, some great sources of beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, spinach, dark leafy greens, romaine lettuce, squash, cantaloupe, and apricots.
How Does Beta-Carotene Help Our Eyes?
In a world of bright screens and sunlight, our eyes get exposed to a lot of blue light.
Beta-carotene helps reduce the oxidative stress all this light puts on our eyes.
Our bodies also convert it into more of the vitamin A we need for eye health. So while carrots won’t give you supernatural night vision, their nutrients can actually sharpen your ability to see in the dark a little.
What Is The Right Daily Amount?
Taking multivitamins and supplements can be an effective way to get important vitamins that are missing from your diet, but they also make it very easy to dangerously overdo it.
Getting your vitamin A and beta-carotene from the foods you eat (especially vegetables) is a much safer way to get the right amount without getting too much.
So yea, carrots are great for your eyes! But not more so than a lot of other vegetables. Eat a balanced diet that includes lots of vegetables, and you’ll be doing your eyes and vision a huge favor.
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