Grass Roots Nutrition: Carrots
Dear Holly: Do carrots really help you to see at night? -Night Goggles
Dear Night Goggles:
No. But I won’t tell the kids if you don’t want me to. Carrots have Vitamin A and adequate Vitamin A, or beta-carotene, allows you to see within your genetic potential. Extra is not better, unless you’re preparing for an orange-toned halloween costume.
Deficiency of Vitamin A is the leading cause of of blindness in the developing world. Before total blindness occurs from Vitamin A deficiency, night vision is lost. This condition is called xerophthalmia and is rare in the US.
So how does Vitamin A work and how do carrots get involved?
Vitamin A has many jobs in our body, including vision, but also contributes to normal growth and development, reproduction and maintaining our immune system.
Carrots contain beta-carotene, a precursor or “provitamin” to Vitamin A. Your body is able to cleave beta-carotene to create two Vitamin A molecules.
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin found in animal foods such as milk and eggs, and in high concentrations in cod liver oil.
As a fat soluble vitamin, it is possible to overdose if you consume too much. Toxic levels are unlikely to occur from eating whole foods, but possible from high doses of the cod liver oil or supplements.
Beta-carotene is the orange compound found in plant foods, including carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato. It’s also in green leafy veggies. Your body only converts beta carotene to Vitamin A if there is need. Like Vitamin A, carotenoids are fat soluble.
Cooking makes carotenoids more available for absorption, so you’ll absorb more from cooked carrots than raw. You are not going to risk overdose of Vitamin A from too many carrots because your body will not convert extra beta-carotene to Vitamin A.
However, if you go on a juice kick and consume many carrots, you skin may turn orange like a bad spray tan worthy of an oompa loompa. How to tell if your orange pallor is carrots or liver disease? Check your eyes – with jaundice, your eyes are also yellow. With beta-carotene colored skin, your eyes remain white.
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What’s your question for Holly? Send them to email@example.com. For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC and BrideBod, owned by me, Holly Larson, a Registered Dietitian. Visit me online at hollylarsonrd.com and follow us on Facebook. Have a delicious, healthy day!