Nutrition for your eyes: Vitamin A and beta carotene
Many of us grew up hearing that eating your carrots and peas will give us 20/20 vision. While eating carrots won’t give you perfect vision, they will help your eyes as a whole. Here’s the low-down. Carrots contain beta-carotene, which breaks down into Vitamin A, crucial for maintaining your sight.
Vitamin A is a group of antioxidant compounds that don’t just help your vision, they also help bone growth and keep your immune system strong. It can also help reduce the risk of eye infections, respiratory problems, and a whole slew of other infectious diseases. There are two types of vitamin A and they depend on the type of food consumed. The first type, retinol, is derived from animals and is “pre-formed.” Since it’s used directly by the body, great food sources of retinol include beef and chicken livers, whole milk, and cheese. Granted, ingesting any of these on a daily basis will be bad for your heart and cholesterol. The second group, carotenoids, are obtained from fruits and vegetables in the form of “provitamin A”. These are converted to retinol by the body after your food is eaten. Excellent sources of carotenoids include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and even cantaloupes! Beta-carotene is one of the most effective provitamin A carotenoids.
In most cases, it’s best to get your Vitamin A in through a healthy, well-balanced diet. Without your daily dose of Vitamin A, you could wind up with a Vitamin A deficiency which has been known to lead to blindness. If you’re looking for delicious ways to put Vitamin A into your diet without trying too hard, look no further than one glass of canned carrot juice or a large sweet potato! In the winter months, consuming a soup made from pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrot will give you more than enough Vitamin A to last you through the day – plus it’s a hearty soup, so it’ll keep you filled up for longer. Adding just one cup of spinach to your salad will give you half of your daily intake of Vitamin A.
Vitamin A and beta-carotene will, by no means, replace a sturdy pair of prescription eyeglasses nor will it correct your vision but it can help fight off infection and stave off vision loss and impairment. So, if you’d like your eyeglasses prescription to stay at the status quo, look into adding some changes to your diet – like including dark leafy greens, orange-colored fruits and vegetables, and eat a carrot or two a few times a week. Your eyes will thank you for it later!