Nutrition Mythbusting: Can Carrots Help Your Eyesight?

Nutritionist Mythbusting

There are rumors about diet and health that are commonplace through either centuries of wishful thinking or just people trying to sell something to the public masses. Some of them are as old as 1820, such as the vinegar and water diet. Others are recent, like the keto or the gluten-free diet. Either way, these misconceptions have led to the loss of money, health, and in some cases even life. So, what better way to advocate nutrition than to put some of the health and diet rumors to bed?  That is what we are going to look at, as we dive into the madness-inducing world of nutrition misconception. And what better place to find the answers than a nutritionist blog?

Do Superfoods like Carrots Give you Superpowers?

It is no secret. Ever since immortal beings with various superpowers came into our storytelling, everyone has always fantasized about being a superhero. From invisibility to shapeshifting, people have always wanted the perks of an extra evolutionary advantage. While the occasional exception exists, there is a hard and fast rule for human limits. People just can’t easily gain superpowers. But, that doesn’t stop us from trying to beat the impossible. We often claim that if we just work hard enough or take many supplements that our bodies can suddenly work that much more efficiently. One of the biggest examples of this is the notion that eating a bunch of carrots can improve your eyesight.

I have heard rumors range to things like carrots outright improving your eyesight to night vision levels to them practically eliminating the need for eyeglasses. But is it something that has a grain of truth to it, or is it all bogus? If you want to find out when and where this rumor started, we are going to have to go back all the way to WWII.

History of the Carrot Myth

carrot rumorThe idea that a carrot was a superfood had existed in the middle ages, claiming that it could prevent death and all sorts of diseases, however, the idea that carrots gave people better eyesight was relatively recent, and kind of hilarious

This specific rumor was not around too terribly long since the carrot craze only caught on at the early 1940’s for both the Allies and the Axis Powers. The origins of this specific story are not only of historical importance, but it is also an early example of trolling. That’s right, just like Kilroy was a meme before the internet during the same time period, the carrot/eyesight thing was also a predated form of trolling.

See, it all started with the British gaining the technological advancement of radar. Radar gave them the ability to catch enemies by surprise by finding a way to detect their enemies at night. This puzzled the German Army because up until this point, no technology like that had been available to any country. All they knew was the British could suddenly somehow detect where their vehicles in the dark.

Both as a way to entertain themselves and to protect their new tactical advantage, the British military indirectly told German spies through propaganda that their entire country started eating carrots all the time. They specifically stated that the beta-carotene in carrots sharpened their eyesight to the point where they had perfect night vision. Children were encouraged to eat carrots all the time. There were even posters of this everywhere, just so spies would believe it.

The funny part was it worked. The Germans actually bought the countrywide ruse and started eating carrots en masse to catch up to the British Army’s “Night Sight”.  Truly, not all heroes wear capes.

If Carrots Can’t Give you NightVision, What can they do?

carrots eyesight

Carrots still do have health benefits, even if it doesn’t give you the ability to see perfectly at night. One example is the fact that carrots have vitamin A, an important nutrient that should be in your daily diet. However, vitamin A can only improve your eyesight if you are already suffering a loss of vision from malnutrition. If you are suffering from alcoholism, and But unless you are vitamin A deficient, from a poor diet, malabsorption problems, or alcoholism, that extra vitamin A will not do much for your eyes. 

 

Also, if you do find yourself eating one too many of this root vegetable, you can run the risk of your skin turning orange. This is because excess beta-carotene will store in your bloodstream under your skin. If you are not willing to look like a painted Oompa Loompa, you want to make sure that you aren’t going overboard with the carrots.


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