Eye Benefits of Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene
Most people have heard at one time or another that eating carrots is important for eye health. But is there any truth to this claim? There are certain nutrients within carrots and other bright-colored vegetables that are beneficial for your eyes.
The fact is that carrots can be a part of a well-balanced diet, helping to protect your eyes from common diseases. Some of the most important nutrients in carrots include Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Here’s an overview of why these nutrients are essential for your vision:
Vitamin A: What You Need to Know
The term “Vitamin A” actually refers to a group of compounds. These antioxidants aren’t only necessary for vision, but they also help with immune function, bone growth, and more. These compounds are fat-soluble and can be found in orange and yellow vegetables, as well as leafy greens, tomatoes, and fruit.
Doctors have found that Vitamin A can be beneficial for the mucous membranes and surface of the eye, protecting your eyes against viruses and bacteria. Getting a sufficient amount of Vitamin A in your diet can have a positive impact on reducing the risk of infections. It has also been discovered that vitamin A can help by reducing the risk of vision loss and macular degeneration.
There are actually two types of vitamin A:
1. Animal Derived Foods: When you get vitamin A from animal foods, it is “pre-formed” that can be used directly. This form of vitamin A is sometimes known as retinol.
2. Fruits and Veggies: Vitamin A is also available from fruits and veggies as “provitamin A” carotenoids. After the food is ingested, then the body converts it to a usable form of vitamin A.
One example is beta carotene, which is a prevalent form of provitamin A carotenoids.
Beta-Carotene: Metabolizes into Vitamin A
Beta-carotene is a naturally-occurring plant pigment that is known as the “precursor” to vitamin A. When you eat foods high in beta-carotene, the body metabolizes the beta-carotene into the usable vitamin A form. Sources of beta-carotene include:
• Sweet Potatoes
• Winter Squash
• Leafy Greens
• Bell Peppers
Supplements vs. Food Sources
Some eye drops and supplements contain vitamin A, which has been shown as effective for certain eye health conditions. But the most powerful form of these antioxidants can be found in the real ingredients. Including brightly colored fruits and vegetables in your regular diet can be an effective way to protect your eyes and optimize your overall health.
While it is important to ensure that you are getting enough vitamin A, don’t overlook the importance of other nutrients as well. Other nutrients that can promote good eye health include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, lutein, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and zeaxanthin. Not only can these nutrients be accessed through healthy eating, but the foods might contain other nutrients that we don’t yet know about.
Regular Eye Exams
Getting enough Vitamin A is important for your eye health, but don’t assume that eating carrots replaces the need to visit an eye doctor on a regular basis. Consistent eye exams are critical to helping you maintain great vision. Call us to schedule an eye exam and learn more about healthy vision habits.