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Do carrots help you see in the dark? © Dan Bright

Do carrots help you see in the dark?

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The myth that carrots help you see in the dark isn’t too farfetched thanks to high levels of vitamin A being present in these delicious orange beauties.

Carrots won’t give you pure night vision, but eating them will certainly help to keep your eyes healthy.


The idea that carrots help you see in the dark partly has its roots in WWII propaganda. British airmen had a fearsome reputation for their ability to shoot down enemy bombers during night-time London raids. The secret lay in new radar technology, but the British put out a rumour that the airmen were avidly devouring carrots to boost night vision. It’s not clear whether the German army fell for the ruse, but the British public certainly did, helped by government adverts proclaiming: ‘Carrots keep you healthy and help you to see in the blackout’.

Carrots are rich in an orange pigment called beta-carotene. Enzymes in the body convert beta-carotene into a form of vitamin A known as retinol, which is vital for eye health.

Other enzymes convert retinol into a chemical called retinal, which is important for forming a pigment called rhodopsin that operates in low-light conditions. Rhodopsin is found in photoreceptor cells known as rods which reside at the back of the eye, in the retina. These cells are responsible for our vision in low-light, and eating carrots will help to keep them in tip-top condition. Without any vitamin A, we would develop night blindness.

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Dr Emma Davies is a science writer and editor with a PhD in food chemistry from the University of Leeds. She writes about all aspects of chemistry, from food and the environment to toxicology and regulatory science.


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