You probably heard it when you were a kid too and didn’t want to eat your vegetables either, and your mother would say, “Eat your carrots; they are good for your eyes”. But what nutrients are in carrots that would make them good for your eyes? What other foods contain these same nutrients?
Beta-carotene is the substance in carrots, as well as other fruits and vegetables that is good for your eyes; beta-carotene is especially good for your night vision. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the liver, and vitamin A is the nutrient that does all the good. Vitamin A is used by the retina where it is transformed into rhodopsin, which is a purple pigment that is necessary for night-vision. Also, beta-carotene’s powerful antioxidant action prevents macular degeneration and senile cataracts, the latter being the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.
What other foods contain beta-carotene? You might ask. Well, fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene are typically identified by their color, yellow, red and orange colored fruits and vegetables are indicative of high levels of beta-carotene, and the more orange the better. But some foods high in beta-carotene are actually greens such as kale and spinach.
Top foods high in Beta-carotene
Sweet potato: provides 9444Î¼g of beta carotene per 100g serving.
Kale: 100 grams of raw kale will provide 9226Î¼g of beta-carotene.
Carrot: 100 grams of raw carrots provides 8285Î¼g of beta-carotene.
Turnip greens: 100 grams of raw turnip greens provides 6952Î¼g of beta-carotene.
Mustard greens: provides 6300Î¼g of beta-carotene per 100g serving
Spinach: cooked spinach provides even more beta-carotene with 6288Î¼g per 100g serving.
Dried herbs: Dried Basil provides the most beta-carotene with 5584Î¼g per 100g serving.
Butternut squash: 100 grams baked provides 4570Î¼g of beta-carotene.
Red leaf lettuce: Red-Leaf Lettuce providing 4495Î¼g per 100g. Green leaf lettuce: provides 4443Î¼g per 100g.
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However, some studies have shown that consuming too much beta-carotene can have the opposite effect and further showed during the study that participants that were heavily supplemented with beta-carotene showed a higher percentage with lung cancer than participants that were no supplemented. The idea is to include these foods in your diet but not to over consume mass quantities of them.
So how much is enough? The U.S. recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 900 micrograms for teenage boys, which is the equivalent of 3,000 international units (IU), and for teenage girls, it is 700 micrograms (2,333 IU). Consuming too much vitamin A can have severe side effects; symptoms of vitamin A toxicity may include headache, dizziness, noticeable changes to the skin, joint pain, and loss of appetite. It is highly recommended that you do not take more than 2,800 micrograms (9,333 IU) per day.
It is also suggested being careful taking supplements if you use oral acne medications that contain isotretinoin, as these medications can contain high levels of vitamin A. This may increase your risk of a toxicity reaction so use caution, you may want to speak to your physician before using supplements to ensure there are no drug interactions with any prescription medications you may be taking. After all, God only gave you two eyes, take care of them.