Sunday, July 17, 2022

Does eating Carrots improve Night Vision?

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A lot of us have heard that eating carrots can improve our vision, especially night vision. Have you ever wondered if this is true, can eating carrots really help us see better at night?


In today's article, I'll cover whether eating carrots can really improve your night vision and whether eating too many carrots can be harmful, So stay with me till the end of this post. I will review some other nutrient-dense foods that can help improve or maintain healthy vision.

The idea that eating carrots can improve night vision really started to become popular during the second world war. In the early 1940s, the British ministry of food started a propaganda campaign stating that the key to the British pilot's success in shooting down the German bombers at night was due to their superb night vision from the carrot-rich diet they ate.

And the ministry encouraged civilians to consume more British-grown carrots. In fact, this rumor spread so far across the pacific ocean, that a new article was published in Time magazine on 22 December 1941, entitled "science: rabbit for owl eyes".

Stated that the Royal aviation force may soon be eating Arizona carrots in preference to all other carrots on earth. Arizona's 3 to 4000 acres of carrots may be the answer to every aviation command's problem of preventing night blindness in its flyers.

So was this true? Were the RAF pilots really able to beat their German opponents in the sky because they ate more carrots? Most students of history would point out that the RAF's success in that era probably had much more to do with the invention of onboard radar systems than carrots.

In fact, rumor has it that the British Royal Air Force may have pushed the carrot message as a cover-up for the use of onboard radar technology by telling the public that carrots were the key to their success. During wartime, blackouts occurred often in London and other areas in the UK, and food shortages were quite common.

But there was a surplus of domestic carrots and the British ministry of food wanted to encourage the consumption of carrots, by advertising them as a healthy nutritious food source that would also help improve night vision.

Can eating Carrots help improve your Night Vision?

Is the notion that eating carrots can help improve night vision fact or fiction? The answer to this question may surprise you. Eating carrots can in fact sometimes improve night vision, but only under certain conditions. Let me explain:

carrots-for-night-vision


The key nutrient in carrots that is important for maintaining eye health is beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A in our body.

Vitamin A is the molecule that transmits the signal of stimulation from light in our eyes to the brain, allowing us to see both during the day and at night. This important step occurs in the retina which is the layer of nerve tissue in our eyes.

There are two types of cells in the retina that contain vitamin A, Rod cells which are responsible for vision at night and in dim light situations, and cone cells which are responsible for vision during the day and in well-lit situations.

Vitamin A is also essential for maintaining the health of the cornea, which is the clear windshield of our eyes. Our body cannot produce vitamin A on its own and has to rely on external sources such as dietary intake in order to obtain this essential nutrient.

Dietary sources of vitamin A can be divided into two groups, preformed vitamin A and provitamin A carotenoids. Preformed vitamin A is found in foods of animal origin such as milk, yogurt, liver, and fish oils.

And Provitamin A is found in vegetable sources such as carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Because provitamin A needs to be converted into a biologically useable form of vitamin A in our body through enzymatic conversion.

Provitamin A obtained from plant sources is an inefficient dietary source of vitamin A. When compared to preformed vitamin A.

Additionally, vitamin A is a fat-soluble molecule, both digestion, and absorption of vitamin A require lipids or fat. so people who eat diets with critically low-fat content, and people with certain medical conditions such as pancreatic or liver diseases, may have difficulty with absorption of vitamin A.

It is estimated that globally about 30% of children younger than five years of age are vitamin A deficient. And vitamin A deficiency is the single most important cause of childhood blindness in developing countries.

In the US, we are very lucky, as vitamin A deficiency affects less than 1% of the population, and it mainly affects people with a history of digestive diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's disease, and liver disease like cirrhosis, etc.

Therefore there is no need for most of us in the US to run to the store to buy a large number of carrots. So can eating carrots help improve your night vision or not?

The answer depends on whether or not you are vitamin A deficient. In a setting where people suffer from vitamin A deficiency, studies have shown that supplements of vitamin A or beta-carotene actually do improve night vision.

If you are suffering from vitamin A deficiency, exactly how many carrots do you need to eat to help improve night vision?

Most of the studies have looked into the benefits of beta-carotene from plant sources. Which are the sole source of vitamin A in many developing countries.

A randomized control study published in 2005 in the American Journal of clinical nutrition studied the benefits of vitamin A supplementation from different food sources in pregnant women with night blindness.

The study concluded that the daily consumption of 4.5 ounces of cooked carrots for six weeks improved night vision in the pregnant women studied.

As I mentioned before, if you live in the US or other developed countries, eating more carrots is likely to improve your night vision unless you suffer from vitamin A deficiency due to various digestive diseases or dietary restrictions.

That being said, carrots are very healthy and they are high in antioxidants. so if you want to go ahead and eat more carrots that should be fine for most people.

Can eating too many Carrots be harmful?

One thing to mention about vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is possible to have too much vitamin A in your body. This is known as vitamin A toxicity.

However, it is very unlikely for you to develop vitamin A toxicity solely from eating carrots. The conversion of beta-carotene from carrots to active vitamin A in our body is quite inefficient.

The ratio is estimated to be 12:1 by weight, meaning it takes 12 times more beta-carotene to make an equivalent amount of bioavailable vitamin A. This means eating extra carrots is very unlikely to cause vitamin A toxicity.

Most cases of vitamin A toxicity are actually due to supplements. Some people have even experienced their skin turning orange after taking a large number of beta-carotene supplements. it's a real condition called carotenemia.

Please also be careful when taking a large amount of vitamin A supplements in the preformed vitamin A form. For example, vitamin A supplements come in capsule form with lipid carriers.

Taking too much of those vitamin A supplements can cause toxicity, and symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, skin rash, increased intracranial pressure, and increased risk of fractures.

As I mentioned above, here is a list of foods that are important for maintaining eye health:

Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach contain important xanthophylls, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. They are important to maintain the health of the retina.

Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants such as oranges and broccoli are important for combating oxidative stress in our eyes and body.

Foods high in omega-3 oil such as wild-caught fish and seaweed are important for preventing dry eyes. 

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