Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

It’s True – Carrots (and Other Vegetables) Can Help You See in the Dark

Image of Each color in fruits and vegetables indicates an abundance of specific nutrients. Each color in fruits and vegetables indicates an abundance of specific nutrients. (Photo: Defense Commissary Agency)

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision Center of Excellence

Have you ever heard that carrots are good for your eyes, or that they can help you see in the dark?

It's true – carrots are rich in the compound beta carotene, which your body uses to make a form of vitamin A that helps your eyes adjust in the dark.

That's just one of the important links between Vitamin A and eye health. Vitamin A is critical for our ability to see, according to a recent report from the Defense Health Agency's Vision Center of Excellence in Falls Church, Virginia.

"There are many factors that affect your eyes and vision, including genetics and age," said Maria Viswanathan, ophthalmologist at the VCE. "Adequate amounts of Vitamin A can help prevent the development of night blindness and slow age-related decline in sight."

With low vitamin A levels, the eye is unable to send visual signals to the brain. This can result in night blindness as an initial symptom. "High doses of vitamin A supplementation can potentially prevent vision loss," according to the VCE.

Vitamin A supports more than just eye health. It is important for the function of the immune system and reproductive systems. It also contributes to healthy heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs, according to the VCE.

Vitamin A also boosts the immune system by stimulating the production and activity of white blood cells. It's an antioxidant that can prevent or slow damage to cells.

Additionally, vitamin A has a role in preventing inflammation and can help prevent inflammatory conditions like acne.

But the human body cannot make vitamin A on its own, so we rely on the food we consume to help jump start the creation of vitamin A. The pigment beta carotene is a major driver of vitamin A production.

Beta carotene is found in many vegetables. It is the nutrient that gives yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables their color. That includes carrots, cantaloupes, apricots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkins, and papayas. Beta carotene is also found in green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards (even though the color of those vegetables is determined by a different chemical known as chlorophyll).

Beta carotene is also necessary for proper bone growth and development.

In immune health, beta carotene plays a key role in maintaining our body's defenses. It also keeps male and female reproductive systems healthy. During pregnancy, it ensures embryos grow and develop normally.

How Much Vitamin A Do We Need?

"We should ensure that we have the right amount of vitamin A," said Viswanathan. "Too little or too much can have negative effects on your health."

However, the amount of vitamin A people need depends on their gender and age, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. The average daily recommended amount for every individual is measured in micrograms of retinol activity equivalents, a metric known as RAE.

The NIH recommends adult females get 700 mcg RAE, while adult males should get 900 mcg RAE daily. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 770 mcg RAE and 1,300 mcg RAE respectively, according to the NIH.

Although vitamin A deficiency is uncommon in the developed world, it can occur in individuals who have cystic fibrosis, pancreatic insufficiency, chronic liver disease, short bowel syndrome, Crohn's or celiac disease, giardiasis, chronic diarrhea, highly selective dieting, dysphagia, mental illness, or who are bariatric surgery recipients, according to the VCE report.

Premature infants also tend to have low levels of vitamin A in their first year.

A simple blood test will let your health care provider know if you're getting enough vitamin A. But, generally, consuming a diet rich in nutritious and varied fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, and protein should meet your body's needs for vitamins and minerals for optimal health and readiness.

"Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of vitamin A on prevention and/or treatment of various infectious diseases," said Dr. Cecilia Mikita, a staff allergist and immunologist at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

"Vitamin A plays an important role in both innate and adaptive immune responses, specifically the integrity of the skin barrier and regulation of the differentiation, maturation, and function of numerous immune cells," she said.

For more information, or if you're concerned about your vitamin A levels, talk to your health care provider.

You also may be interested in...

When we “Break Bread," we build social bonds

Article
3/25/2021
Picture of military personnel sitting at a table eating food together

Eating socially has been shown to influence happiness and life satisfaction; specifically participating in evening meals with more people.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Army dietitian uses nutritional care to fight COVID-19

Article
3/23/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask standing in front of a Nutrition Clinic

Army dietician plays a critical role in COVID-19 patient recovery.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus

METC trains dietician techs to build, support a Medically Ready Force

Article
3/18/2021
Military health personnel preparing food trays while wearing a face mask

Nutrition plays an important role in military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Education & Training | Medical Education and Training Campus

New NICoE director sets an ambitious agenda for the future

Article
3/8/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask while talking to each other

The accomplished new leader of the NICoE and Intrepid Spirit Center network has plans for increased services and a higher profile for the unique care center.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Education and Training Events | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Centers of Excellence | The National Intrepid Center of Excellence

Proper nutrition impacts overall health & readiness

Article
3/4/2021
Man wearing a face mask restocking fruit at a store

Nutritional fitness implications for Total Force Fitness are far reaching.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness

Strategies for hearing loss prevention help service members stay ready

Article
3/3/2021
An infographic with the words "World Hearing Day" at the top, images of people using their hears to listen, and "educate, protect, monitor" at the bottom

The Defense Health Agency is one of many healthcare entities celebrating World Hearing Day on March 3.

Recommended Content:

Hearing Center of Excellence | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month; TBICoE’s mission lasts all year

Article
3/2/2021
Military health personnel performing a balance test on a patient

Staying a-head of TBI

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | A Head for the Future | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Centers of Excellence

Eating disorders hinder optimal health and TFF nutrition concept

Article
2/25/2021
a picture of the produce section at a grocery store

Disordered eating lessens Total Force Fitness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Heart Health | Heart Health

VCE examines low vision with detection and care

Article
2/18/2021
military health personnel wearing a mask and performing an eye exam

Dr. David Eliason, of the Vision Center of Excellence, says low vision awareness is about prevention, detection, and continuing treatment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Mobile Apps | Medical Research and Development | | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

Total Force Fitness Reintroduction

Video
2/17/2021
Total Force Fitness Reintroduction

The Military Health System is reintroducing Total Force Fitness. The Total Force Fitness concept focuses on a service member’s entire health throughout their career, connecting eight dimensions of fitness to optimize health, performance, and readiness holistically.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Environmental Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Spiritual Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Social Fitness | Financial Fitness | Mobile Apps

DGMC medical study looks at plant-based diet

Article
12/3/2020
Man wearing mask and gloves putting container of salad into salad bar

Researchers measured important cholesterol, weight and blood pressure markers at baseline and at 4-weeks.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Nutritional Fitness

NICoE & ISC Network maintain TBI care during COVID-19

Article
11/19/2020
Image of United States map with locations noted

The Network leveraged their geographic distribution to help each other quickly adapt to changing times.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Traumatic Brain Injury | Centers of Excellence | The National Intrepid Center of Excellence

NICoE’s 3rd Annual Research Fair Focuses on the Future of TBI care

Article
10/28/2020
Man standing at podium next to American flag

[T]he event was intended to educate all attendees, no matter their scientific background.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Centers of Excellence

USU Task Force addresses nutrition and lifestyle’s role in resiliency

Article
9/24/2020
Woman cutting a steak on a plate, with corn

A personal protective lifestyle (PPL) and nutrition (PPN) could be your key to resiliency in the face of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Coronavirus

Healthy Sleep Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

Getting restful sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, and it often takes thoughtful preparation during the day. This fact sheet offers service members and veterans who experience sleep disturbances after a concussion with healthy sleep tips that can likely improve sleep.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | TBI Educators | TBI Provider Resources | A Head for the Future | Centers of Excellence
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 > >> 
Showing results 106 - 120 Page 8 of 9
Refine your search
Last Updated: April 28, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.