Many people have questions regarding vitamin A and the benefits of taking it to ward off eye disease. Is blindness caused by a vitamin A deficiency? Is consuming too much Vitamin A dangerous to my health? Finally, will taking vitamin A improve my vision?
Vitamin A is comprised of antioxidant compounds that contribute to the health of your immune system, bone growth and vision. Vitamin A also reduces the risk of respiratory problems, infectious diseases, and eye infections.
Vitamin A comes in two forms, depending on the source. The first form, retinol, is vitamin A from animal sources and can be used directly by the body. Excellent sources of this are whole milk, cheese, butter, and beef and chicken liver.
The second form of vitamin A comes from fruit and vegetables and is known as carotenoids. The body converts carotenoids to retinol after food is eaten. Excellent sources of carotenoids include cantaloupes, kale, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin A’s ability to help protect the eye’s surface makes it very important for good vision. One study confirmed that eye drops containing vitamin A are just as effective as expensive prescription eye drops for treating dry-eye syndrome. In addition, vitamin A eye drops are effective in treating an eye inflammation known as superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis. Another benefit of vitamin A is its role in the reduction of risk of vision loss from macular degeneration.
People with retinitis pigmentosa have prolonged their vision by taking vitamin A supplemented with lutein. When combining these two nutrients, the loss of peripheral vision was slowed in comparison to those who did not take the supplements. Although rare in the United States, vitamin A deficiency is common in poor, underdeveloped countries where both children and adults may go blind when they don’t get enough vitamin A in their diet.
Unfortunately there are risks when ingesting too much vitamin A. When excess amounts of vitamin A are consumed, as the nutrient is not water-soluble, it becomes stored in body fat and is not readily excreted by the body. It then builds up and becomes toxic. However, carotenoid vitamin A is water-soluble and therefore does not cause the same problem.
As always, consult a doctor with any questions about your eyesight and how to treat and improve your vision if you begin having eye problems.