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Did your parents ever tell you to eat your carrots because carrots could improve your vision?

According to Scientific American, the correlation between eating carrots and improving one’s night vision was first made in a propaganda piece from the British Air Force during World War II. The U.K. Ministry of Food attributed British pilots’ ability to shoot down German aircraft in the dark to the beta-carotene they ingested through their carrot-rich diet. While it’s more likely that their success had to do with the advent of radar, the rumor has persisted over the intervening decades

So is it fact or fiction that eating carrots can help you see in the dark?

It turns out that Vitamin A, which can be converted by the body from beta-carotene, has indeed been shown to improve the night vision when it has been impaired due to a lack of vitamin A. That said, once your body has adequate levels of vitamin A, you can’t continue to improve your vision by ingesting more. This is because – as with many other substances – vitamin A can be toxic in large doses, so our bodies naturally regulate how much vitamin A is in our systems at any one time.

Today, most vision problems are caused by the natural process of aging, genetics, or chronic disease. The best thing to do for your vision as you age is to stock up on green leafy vegetables (which contain nutrients that can protect the eyes by filtering wavelengths that may damage the retina) and ensure that you get enough light when performing detailed work.