You’ve probably heard the old wives tale regarding carrots; they’ll help you see in the dark. The question is whether there is any truth in this; are carrots really good for your eyes?
What’s In A Carrot?
Your average carrot is actually a very healthy food source. Just 1 cup of raw carrots will give you the following:
- 430% of your daily vitamin A
Actually carrots don’t contain vitamin A. But they are an excellent source of beta-carotene which your body needs to make vitamin A.
- 21% of your daily vitamin K
- 13% of your daily vitamin C
- 9% of your daily vitamin B6 & 6% of the other main B vitamins
The Role of Vitamin A In Your Body
Vitamin A is actually present in a wide array of foods. Research has found it to be a critical ingredient for eye health, your immune system and for a healthy heart. It has even been connected with helping the lungs and kidneys to work properly.
There are actually two different types of vitamin A:
Preformed Vitamin A
This is found in fish, dairy products and poultry. You consume these foods to get an instant boost in vitamin A.
In contrast this is in many fruits and vegetables. But, as in the case of the carrot, it is found as beta-carotene and enables your body to make vitamin A.
Both methods provide good quality vitamin A.
How Beta-Carotene Affects Your Eyes
Vitamin A is essential for your eye health. It is the key ingredient in a coating that goes over the eye to protect it from damage. By protecting the cornea it keeps the eye lubricated and maintains its health.
Of more interest is the fact that vitamin A appears to be instrumental in preventing macular degeneration. In fact it has also been linked with prolonging vision when suffering from retinitis pigmentosa.
All these studies have been performed using preformed vitamin A. However, this is not materially different to the vitamin A created in your body.
There is certainly a benefit to your eye health associated with vitamin A!
What About Seeing In The Dark?
British pilots in the 2nd World War were able to shoot down the enemy even in the dark; this was attributed at the time to the effects of carrots in their diet.
Vitamin A is again responsible for this myth! It reacts with your eyes and your brain to help your brain make sense of the light signals your eyes are receiving; even in low light.
Effectively vitamin A is essential to allow you to see in low light. Unfortunately you would need a huge amount of vitamin A to improve your night vision.
It’s worth noting that too much vitamin A is actually toxic to your body, although your system will self regulate and expel excess to prevent this type of build up.
Interestingly, in contrast, a deficiency in vitamin A does equate to night blindness!
Are Carrots Really Good For Your Eyes?
The short answer is YES! The beta-carotene is turned into vitamin A that boosts the health of your eyes; enabling sight in low light and helping to keep your eyes healthy.
But, increasing your vitamin A intake will not improve your vision; it simply improves the health of your eyes.
Vitamin A is also extremely beneficial for many other parts of your body; as mentioned earlier.
Other Sources Of Vitamin A
It is worth noting that carrots are not the only source of beta-carotene or vitamin A. Other sources of this powerful vitamin include:
- Sweet potato
- Goats cheese
- Dark Chocolate (yes another excuse to have just a little!)
The next time you’re feeling a little hungry and struggling with your diet, think about the humble carrot.
It’s tasty, instant food and while it may not improve your ability to see in the dark; it is definitely good for your eyes!