There’s a very good reason as to why we refer to vitamin A as “Vitamin Eye.” Simply put, this vitamin is the superhero of the eye health world.
Vitamin A can help your vision in a number of ways, but it is also widely thought to help boost your immune system and help with cell growth. It also increases neurological function and gives you radiant skin.
Look at me, boasting about vitamin A like it’s my own child. Enough surface facts, what about the vitamin actually makes it so powerful? How does it differ from all the other vitamins out there?
The Powerful Retinoid and Antioxidant
There are two types of vitamin A. One type, most commonly found in animal products, is a vitamin A retinoid that is soluble in fat. The more commonly known type, beta-carotene, comes from plants, fruits and vegetables.
The body absorbs both these types of vitamin A to act as antioxidants that fight free radicals. Free radicals can be detrimental to anyone’s health. When free radicals start forming in the body, they create a chain reaction that can cause severe cell damage and sometimes cell deaths.
When vitamin A is present in the body, it creates a stable bond between molecules, which prevents free radicals from forming. This makes for a healthier overall immune system, promotes healthy cell development (especially in children) and it keeps your retina safe from irreversible cell damage.
Free radicals forming in the body are hard to spot, but some other symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency are not. A gluten sensitivity, inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatic disorders are all signs of a potential deficiency.
Unlike other vitamins and minerals which are easily absorbed into the body through foods and other sources, vitamin A deficiencies are becoming all too common. The people most at risk of developing a vitamin A deficiency are alcoholics, pregnant women of low income and young children.
However, a vitamin A deficiency isn’t always a result of an unhealthy or imbalanced diet. It is sometimes caused by malabsorption. When this happens it means that the body is not absorbing the vitamin as it should, which is why deficiencies are common in people going through bodily changes.
Vitamin A deficiencies are treated as any other vitamin deficiency would be treated. A doctor assesses the degree of your deficiency and then recommends a daily dosage of vitamin A supplements. You’ll have to keep up with the supplements until your vitamin A supply has been replenished.
Like any deficiency, a lack in vitamin A can be harmful to everyone, but it is especially harmful to babies and young children. If left untreated, a deficiency in the vitamin can lead to development issues and blindness.
Vitamin A has long been the go-to vitamin for eye health. Even your mom knew when she told you that you couldn’t play until you ate all of your carrots. Though mom might not have known exactly what it was about carrots that made them so good for the eyes, we’ll give her credit for one heck of a mother’s intuition.
Aside from fighting free radicals, studies have shown that people with a healthy amount of vitamin A in their diets are less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a disease that affects almost everyone as they get older. As the name suggests, AMD is the deterioration of the macula in the eye.
Though there is no cure—at least not yet—for AMD, vitamin A is a strong component in preventing and slowing down the progression of the disease.
Vitamin A also helps regulates the thickness of the cornea. Too soft, and the cornea is susceptible to developing various infections and may even lead to a ruptured cornea. Too thick, and the cornea can become so thick that it will cause clouded vision, followed by irreversible blindness.
Some added benefits of vitamin A for your eye health are that it keeps your eyes moist which is great remedy for those with dry eyes, and it can help your eye adjust to different lights. We’ve all had that horrible experience of being cooped up all day, only to step out into the blinding sun and being temporarily blinded.
Whether you have naturally dry eyes or it’s a result of a side effect of prescribed medication, this is the vitamin for you.
Where to Find Vitamin A: Food and Supplements
You can find the vitamin in various animal products and plant-based foods. You can also find it in supplement form. Supplements come in either tablet form or in candy gummy form.
Tip: gummy supplements can be a good way to trick your kids into taking their daily dose of vitamin A. We won’t tattle.
For the parents, we’d like to recommend our Ocu-Plus Formula. This supplement comes loaded with vitamin A, along with other vitamins and nutrients to achieve optimal eye health.
Maybe supplements don’t interest you and you’d prefer to get your vitamins and nutrients from a healthy diet. Well, hey, that’s great! We have just the food suggestions for you!
The rule of thumb is that the brighter or more highly pigmented the food, the higher in beta-carotene it is. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself at the grocery store.
While you’re there, you may want to look into these vitamin A rich foods:
- Sweet potatoes
- Bell peppers (especially red ones)
- Kale and spinach
- Turkey and beef liver
- Butternut squash
These are our favorites, but feel free to mix and match them with your regular grocery list! Your body and eyes need vitamin A to function and prevent disease. Get it into your diets however you like; you may even learn a few new recipes along the way!