Benefits of Vitamin A and Beta-carotene for Your Eyes

Does vitamin A do anything to help eyes and vision? Can a vitamin A deficiency cause loss of sight? Is it harmful to consume too much vitamin A?

Keep reading for answers to these concerns and other helpful facts about this important antioxidant vitamin, consisting of details about eye benefits of vitamin A and beta-carotene, top vitamin A foods, and possible advantages of vitamin A eye drops.

What Is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A in fact is a group of antioxidant compounds that play an essential role in vision, bone development and health of the body immune system. Vitamin A also helps the surface of the eye, mucous membranes and skin work barriers to bacteria and viruses, reducing the risk of eye infections, breathing issues and other transmittable illness.

In basic, there are two types of vitamin A, depending upon the kind of food source it comes from:

  1. Vitamin A from animal-derived foods is called retinol. This “pre-formed” vitamin A can be used directly by the body. Great food sources of retinol vitamin A consist of beef and chicken liver, entire milk and cheese.
  2. Vitamin A obtained from vibrant fruits and vegetables remains in the kind of “provitamin A” carotenoids, which are converted to retinol by the body after the food is consumed. Excellent food sources of provitamin A carotenoids consist of carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and cantaloupes.

Beta-carotene is one of the most widespread and efficient provitamin A carotenoids.

Eye Benefits Of Vitamin A And Beta-Carotene

Due to the fact that vitamin A assists secure the surface of the eye (cornea), it is important for good vision.

Studies show vitamin A eye drops work for the treatment of dry eyes. In reality, one research study discovered that over the counter lubricating eye drops including vitamin A were as reliable for the treatment of dry eye syndrome as more pricey prescription eye drops formulated for dry eye relief.

Vitamin A eye drops likewise have been shown effective for the treatment of a particular type of eye inflammation called remarkable limbic keratoconjunctivitis.

Vitamin A, a minimum of when in combination with other antioxidant vitamins, likewise appears to play a role in reducing the risk of vision loss from macular degeneration (AMD). In the landmark Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) sponsored by the National Eye Institute, people with mild or moderate AMD who took a day-to-day multivitamin that included vitamin A (as beta-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper had a 25 percent reduced risk of advanced AMD during a six-year duration.

Benefits of Vitamin A and Beta-carotene for Your Eyes

It also appears that a combination of vitamin A and lutein may prolong vision in people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP). A four-year research study carried out by researchers from Harvard Medical School and other popular universities discovered that people with retinitis pigmentosa who took day-to-day supplements of vitamin A (15,000 IU) and lutein (12 mg) had a slower loss of peripheral vision than those who did not take the combined supplements.

Because beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body, it’s most likely this provitamin A offers similar eye advantages as the pre-formed retinol type of vitamin A, though more research is needed to confirm this.

And researchers at Columbia University Medical Center found that an artificial, modified form of vitamin A may be able to slow the development of Stargardt’s disease, an acquired eye disease that causes severe vision loss in young people.

When given to mice with the very same hereditary problem as human beings with Stargardt’s disease (also called juvenile macular degeneration), the modified vitamin A prevented the growth of clump-like deposits in the retina called “vitamin A dimers” that are associated with degenerative changes and vision loss.

The National Eye Institute has awarded the scientists a $1.25 million grant to further examine the link in between vitamin A dimers and numerous retinal degenerations, which could cause new methods to treat these diseases.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A shortage is rare in the United States, but it prevails amongst the bad in developing countries. It’s estimated that roughly 250,000 to 500,000 malnourished children worldwide ended up being blind each year due to vitamin A deficiency that could have been prevented with a correct diet.

One of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness. In ancient Egypt, it was found that night loss of sight might be treated by eating liver, which later on was discovered to be a rich source of vitamin A.

An absence of vitamin A causes the cornea to become really dry, leading to clouding of the front of the eye, corneal ulcers and vision loss. Vitamin A shortage likewise causes damage to the retina, which also adds to loss of sight.

Because vitamin A also is necessary for resistance to infection and a healthy immune system, vitamin A shortage can lead to death from respiratory and other infections.

Vitamin A – Daily Value

Most of the times, it’s best to obtain vitamins and minerals from a healthy, balanced diet.

The principle of the Daily Value (DV) was established to assist consumers determine if a food contains a lot or a little of a nutrient, based on its Recommended Dietary Allowance. The DV for vitamin A is 5,000 IU.

The following tables provide DV percentages for some of the best vitamin A foods:

VITAMIN-A FOODS (ANIMAL-BASED)
Food Vitamin A (IU) %DV
Beef liver (3 ounces, cooked) 22,175 443.5
Braunschweiger (pork liver sausage, 2 slices) 7,967 159.3
Chicken liver (1 liver, cooked) 2,612 52.2
Milk shake (16 fluid ounces) 1,012 20.2
Ricotta cheese (1 cup) 945 18.9
Whole milk 395 7.9
Butter (1 tablespoon) 355 7.1
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22 (2009)
VITAMIN-A FOODS (PLANT-BASED)
Food Vitamin A (IU) %DV
Carrot juice (canned, 1 cup) 45,133 902.6
Pumpkin (canned, 1 cup) 38,129 762.6
Sweet potato (baked, 1 potato) 28,058 561.2
Carrots (cooked, 1 cup) 26,571 531.4
Carrots (raw, 1 carrot) 12,028 240.6
Spinach (raw, 1 cup) 2,813 56.3
Cantaloupe (raw, 1/8 melon) 2,334 46.7
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22 (2009)

Vitamin A Toxicity

Vitamin A that comes from animal food sources is not water-soluble and for that reason is not easily excreted from the body. Instead, it is saved in body fat and, if ingested in excess quantities, can develop in the body and become hazardous.

Beta-carotene and other provitamin A carotenoids discovered in vegetables and fruits do not present the very same vitamin A toxicity risk. These compounds are water-soluble and are quickly eliminated from the body, so vitamin A toxicity from vegetarian food sources is unusual.

Beta-carotene supplements, nevertheless, may have major dangers for smokers. Two research studies have actually found that smokers taking day-to-day supplements including 20 to 30 mg of beta-carotene had an increased risk of lung cancer compared to cigarette smokers who did not take the eye supplements. (These studies are controversial, however, and a large study of more than 22,000 male physicians discovered no unfavorable health results when these doctors took beta-carotene supplements of 50 mg every other day.)

The Institute of Medicine has established the following upper consumption levels for the animal-based, retinol kind of vitamin A to reduce the risk of vitamin A toxicity:

  • Children (ages 4 to 8): 3,000 IU
  • Children (ages 9 to 13): 5,610 IU
  • Teenagers (ages 14 to 18): 9,240 IU
  • Grownups (age 19 and older): 10,000 IU

Possible toxicity reactions from long-term day-to-day usage of vitamin A above these levels include abnormality, liver problems, decreased bone mineral density that can result in osteoporosis, and central nerve system disorders.

Dr. D.Roberts / author of the article
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Ophthalmology: Health of Your Eyes
Comments: 1
  1. Nelson Cooper

    So recently i discovered the worth of vitamin A for my dry eyes. When I minimized my vitamin A consumption (3 times in the past 2 years due to me getting an indigestion from my multivitamin) i discovered my eyes were right away drier, and more irritated. Furthermore I likewise think they produced corneal abrasions (im still waiting to get into an eye expert however told it would be this month) the abrasions simply took place extremely easily, im not 100 percent sure how they happened all i understand is nothing struck my eye, but they were unbelievably dry and delicate. My eyes were so dry that the abrasion were caused easily luckily not effecting my vision. I discovered in my research its rather typical in vitamin a deficient nations. Upon rebooting my vitamin An intake (5000 retinol) the abrasions cleared, my eyes were not nearly as dry and normally more healthy. One eye doctor discussed in quite simple terms if the eye is vitamin A lacking it drys up and the cornea can be harmed or torn quickly.

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