Vitamin A, Retinol and Beta Carotene: The Eye
As a child, you were always told to finish your vegetables, especially those orange colored
crunchy things that they call carrots. Your mom said that it is good for your eyes and if you don’t eat them, you
can go blind early. So believing your mom, and not wanting to go blind, you eat as many carrots as you can.
What is it in carrots and in most yellow/orange vegetables that is supposedly essential for good eyesight? It is
called Vitamin A. Vitamin A actually pertains to a group of compounds which are referred to as retinoids. The term
retinoids came about because of the function of Vitamin A is related to the retina of the eye. And the most
commonly found retinoid is retinol. In carrots, it is the orange colored pigment known as Beta Carotene – see the
similarities in names again?
Vitamin A, Retinol and/or Beta Carotene are vital for several functions to be performed in the body. Primarily,
it is needed to keep the vision healthy. In fact, studies have shown that a deficiency of this vitamin can cause
night blindness since it targets the retina of the eye, which is responsible for the processing and sending of
images to the brain. It uses rhodopsin, which is a pigment responsible for seeing black and white colors, including
the ability to see at night.
Vitamin A is also used for gene transcription. The reproductive system as well as the development of an embryo
during pregnancy needs Vitamin A to be able to follow through with their processes. It is also seen to play a role
in keeping the body safe from disease through the immune functions. The metabolic processes in the bone, including
the development and production of blood cells need vitamin A to do their job well. The skin also uses retinol for
Beta Carotene has also been found to lower the risk of having cancer as well as cardiovascular diseases because
of its antioxidant activity, which is responsible in keeping those toxic substances from entering and harming the
When the body is found to be deficient in Vitamin A, it is manifested usually by its inability to see in the
dark. If the deficiency persists, it can lead to conjunctival drying, until the surfaces of the eyes are replaced
by thick keratinized epithelium and this ends in total blindness.
Knowing the importance of Vitamin A, Retinol and Beta Carotene in the body, it is quite imperative that the body
be given adequate amounts of it. Vitamin A can be obtained in a variety of foods aside from carrots. It is present
in high amounts in liver, broccoli leaves, sweet potatoes, spinach and other leafy vegetables, pumpkins, and most
yellow orange colored fruits and vegetables. Pregnant women should also get their fill of Vitamin A that is just
enough for their body. But this does not mean that you have to take in large amounts of Vitamin A because too much
in the blood can also cause serious harm to the body.
Taking in Vitamin A, Retinol and Beta Carotene in the body will definitely clear your vision and your body from
toxins and help you in having a happy and healthy body.