The old wives' tale of gaining night vision by eating carrots, doesn't quite hold up to scientific investigation, but it does contain a smidgen of truth. Raw carrots contain lots of vitamin C and beta carotene. While they won't endow you with the super power of seeing in the dark, the vitamin content can protect your eyesight and help prevent eye trouble down the line. Before you start devouring carrots quicker than Bug's Bunny, let me explain why vitamin C is so important for our eyes.
Vitamin C has many benefits for our health. It promotes wound healing and the absorption of iron. It assists in maintaining healthy capillaries, teeth, gums and cartilage. Almost every cell in our body depends on this vitamin, including the cells of the eyes.
To understand the connection between vitamin C and eye health, this blog will look at:
The importance of collagen for eye health
Why antioxidants are so beneficial for our eyes
What contributes to a vitamin C deficiency
How to get more vitamin C in your diet.
Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen and collagen is really important for our eyes. It basically holds them together (the eye is made up of layers of connective tissue maintained by collagen) and protects them.
Current research points out that changes to our collagen levels could be a causative factor in the development of cataracts. Collagen levels decrease as we age, so it's important we give ourselves a chance to create as much as we can by upping our vitamin C. Collagen supplements are also available, and using bone broth in cooking is a traditional way of including more collagen in your diet.
Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration are two conditions linked to free radical damage but vitamin C is helpful in pressing the brakes on these diseases.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant which means it fights free radical damage in the body that can lead to age-related diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration. The body makes antioxidants, but not enough to keep on top of this job. This means we need to provide our body with enough antioxidants so it can do this work for us.
Studies show that supplementing with 364mg of vitamin C daily gives a 57% reduction in the risk of certain types of cataracts. People with a high risk of developing AMD who took 500mg of vitamin C per day (along with beta carotene, vit E and zinc) slowed the progression of the disease by 25%.
A study from King's College London showed that participants who had a higher intake of vitamin C were associated with a 33 percent risk reduction of cataract progression, and had clearer lenses after 10 years than those who consumed less vitamin C. More than 300,000 cataract operations are carried out each year in the U.K; so, let's have a look at how we can maximise our intake of this pretty amazing vitamin.
Our bodies don't create vitamin C, so it is up to us to boost our daily intake through diet and supplementation. However, it can be trickier than you think to get your daily dose of vitamin C, and you could be falling short without realising it.
Diabetics, smokers and those using steroid medications are likely to need vitamin C supplementation, as these situations deplete vitamin C and are linked to degenerative eye issues too. Even if you don't fall into these categories, though, you might not be getting as much vitamin C from your diet as you think for a few reasons:
You take a vitamin C supplement but it doesn't seem to work
Most vitamin C supplements are produced synthetically. This means the body doesn't recognise them when we ingest them.
Vitamin C is water-soluble, so you end up excreting most of these synthetic supplements during your toilet break. The way to combat this very expensive trip to the toilet is by choosing a vitamin C supplement that is readily bio-available. This means your body recognises the supplement and will take it in as food.
Nature-C tablets are made from freeze-dried fruit, so they are incredibly well absorbed by the body and they taste delicious too.
You don't eat any raw fruit or veg
Cooking your food depletes its vitamin C content. If you steam or boil your veg, the vitamin C will leach out and into the cooking water. Unless you are using the left-over water for cooking you will be missing out on all that lovely vitamin C.
The fruit and veg you do eat is usually from a can, readymade meal or has been sitting in the fruit bowl/vegetable basket for a week
Sugar competes with vitamin C for absorption so, if you are eating refined sugar regularly, it is unlikely you are getting full use of the vitamin C in your food.
My self-care tip: Getting more vitamin C in your diet
In my video I share the simplest (and tastiest) way I have found to get more vitamin C into my day. Read on for more simple tips on adding more vitamin C to your daily diet.
Simple tips to get more vitamin C in your diet
Cut up colourful, fresh, raw veggies and keep them in a bowl beside your desk or on your kitchen table. Snack on them throughout the day. Carrots and peppers are great for this. Slice up some pineapple and melon too.