Eat your carrots, they’re good for your eyes!” Now there’s a sentence that has been etched in many a childhood memory. But can carrots, which are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, really have an impact on the health of your eyes? Was Mom right?
It is a well-known fact that healthy eating habits are vital to maintaining a healthy body. Because many of the foods we consume contain vitamins that all have their own properties, it is also essential to have a varied diet. One of these vitamins is vitamin A. Beta-carotene, for its part, is a nutrient that is part of the carotenoid family. It is a precursor of vitamin A, meaning that the body transforms it into vitamin A. Beta-carotene derived from your diet is highly beneficial since it contributes to meeting your needs in vitamin A, after the body has converted it.
The role of vitamin A
Vitamin A is important to maintain your health, contributing to it in many ways. Here are a few examples of its benefits:
- It contributes to the development of teeth, bones, hair and nails.
- It contributes to maintaining the integrity of skin cells and eyes.
- It is essential to good night vision.
- It promotes regulation of the immune system.
- It has antioxidant properties, which can have preventative effects for certain diseases.
To do its job, vitamin A must be absorbed in sufficient amounts each day. Daily needs in vitamin A depend on a person’s age and gender, as well as other factors, such as pregnancy. For example, men aged 14 and over usually need a daily intake of 900 µg (3,000 UI), while women usually require 700 µg (2,330 UI). Your pharmacist can tell you more about your daily needs in vitamin A and the ways to meet them.
The consequences of vitamin A deficiency
In industrialized countries, it is rather rare to suffer from vitamin A deficiency, unless you have an illness that hinders your body’s absorption of this vitamin. A person suffering from insufficient vitamin A could present some symptoms, including:
- bad night vision;
- eyes that are sensitive to light;
- skin problems;
- less resistance to infections;
- growth problems.
It is not recommended to take supplements of vitamin A or beta-carotene, unless under medical supervision.
The consequences of excess vitamin A
Vitamin A is a lipid-soluble vitamin, which means that if it is taken in excess, it gets stored in your body fat. This can potentially lead to overdose symptoms, such as:
- pain in the bones or joints;
- nausea and vomiting;
- loss of appetite;
- dry skin.
Note that the symptoms of a vitamin A overdose can be similar to those of a deficiency.
Vitamin A and beta-carotene in food
Vitamin A in its natural state is found in foods of animal origin, such as:
- cod-liver oil;
Beta-carotene is mostly found in foods of vegetable origin, such as yellow-orange and dark-green fruits and vegetables:
- sweet potato;
Warning to smokers
Beta-carotene supplements can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers. The same thing can occur in asbestos workers and alcoholics. Before considering taking such a supplement, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Warning to pregnant women
A daily intake of over 10,000 UI of vitamin A can lead to congenital anomalies. It is best to refrain from regularly eating foods that are high in vitamin A, such as wild-game liver, for example. Note that this is not a problem for beta-carotene, however, since it only transforms into vitamin A when you need it.
By filling up your plate with a variety of colours, you will not only make it more appetizing, but also rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene; meeting your daily needs will contribute to the health of your hair, nails, skin and eyes. Looks like Mom wasn’t so wrong after all!
Read more on the subject
Eating well with Canada’s Food Guide!Read article +
5 healthy snacks that are made for boys’ nightRead article +
4 tips to start the year on the right footRead article +
Getting those vitamins: which vegetables to chooseRead article +
Hot flashes: fighting fire with foodRead article +
4 tips for benefiting from the power of foodsRead article +
Dehydrated skin: the food you need for beautiful skinRead article +
Staying on track with your health goals even while on vacationRead article +
Choose matcha, and make the most of your holidaysRead article +
Let saffron transport you to exotic placesRead article +
4 easy smoothie recipes to jumpstart your morningsRead article +
5 tips for eating well for people who don’t like healthy foodsRead article +
Anatomy of a perfect buddha bowlRead article +
3 homemade pumpkin spice latte recipesRead article +
6 healthy snack ideas for your summer outingsRead article +
4 healthy and fun brunch ideasRead article +
15 Myths About NutritionRead article +
Are they gluten-free?Read article +
Dry hair? The food you need for fabulous hair.Read article +
Anti-aging tips: fighting wrinkles with dietRead article +
3 tips for cooking healthy while campingRead article +
Food trends – what movie stars loveRead article +
Healthy, original burgers: 5 must-try recipesRead article +
Flavoured water: jazz up your water to stay hydratedRead article +
Food and gluten allergies: finding the right substitutesRead article +
5 trending foods in 2016Read article +
3 tips to eat betterRead article +
6 answers to your questions about vitamins and mineralsRead article +
Is barbecuing in winter possible?Read article +
8 glasses of water a day—myth or fact?Read article +