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Getting enough vitamins and minerals is essential for optimal overall health.  Out of the whole spectrum, there are two that matter most for maintaining healthy eyes and sharp vision–Vitamin A and beta-carotene.  Let’s take a closer look at their role in eye health, and how to achieve sufficient daily intakes.

Vitamin A: the basics

Did you know that “vitamin A” is actually a whole class of different fat-soluble compounds?  The vitamin A available from food sources falls into two categories–provitamin A carotenoids and performed vitamin A.  Provitamin A carotenoids are plant-sourced, found in fruits, leafy greens, tomatoes, orange and yellow vegetables, and some vegetable oils.  On the other hand, performed vitamin A is found in dairy, meats, fish, liver, and other animal products.

Role of vitamin A in eye health

Vitamin A has a host of functions in supporting eye health.  As an essential nutrient for a strong immune system, vitamin A helps fend off infections and reduce inflammation in the eyes.  But it also suppresses vision loss and macular degeneration with advancing age.  

Beta-carotene: basic facts

Existing only as a provitamin carotenoid, beta-carotene is only derivable from plant (fruit and vegetable) sources.  It’s actually responsible for the pigments of bright-colored vegetables such as peppers and carrots. But these aren’t the only foods that are rich in beta-carotene–dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, spinach, sweet potatoes, apricots, romaine lettuce and squash are also excellent sources.

Role of beta-carotene in eye health

Although it’s been debunked as a myth that you can acquire excellent night vision by eating lots of carrots, getting all that beta-carotene does have many other vision-boosting powers.  One of these is in helping repair the oxidative stress from exposure to light, especially blue light from electronic screens. In addition, beta-carotene can be metabolized by the body to vitamin A, yielding many of the same eye health and immune-boosting benefits from that nutrient.  

Healthy daily intakes

As with most essential nutrients, the best way to get your daily amounts of vitamin A and beta-carotene is through a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.   Getting your daily dose of leafy greens and other vegetables has lots of benefits, including offering up a healthy dose of vitamin A and beta-carotene–while ensuring that you don’t go overboard, as is easy to do with supplements and multivitamins.

Dr. Joseph Cohen O.D.
Woodland Hills Optometrist
Receive an Excellent Service and Comprehensive Eye Care
(818) 345-3937
Providing service in English and Farsi
19737 Ventura Blvd., Suite 201, Woodland Hills, CA 91364