Yes and no. Carrots contain vitamin A, or retinol, and this is required for your body to synthesise rhodopsin, which is the pigment in your eyes that operates in low-light conditions. If you have a vitamin A deficiency, you will develop nyctalopia or night blindness. Eating carrots would correct this and improve your night vision, but only to the point of an ordinary healthy person – it won’t ever let you see in complete darkness.
The idea that it might is due to a myth begun by the Air Ministry in World War II. To prevent the Germans finding out that Britain was using radar to intercept bombers on night raids, they issued press releases stating that British pilots were eating lots of carrots to give them exceptional night vision. This fooled the British public, as well as German High Command and an old wive’s tale was born.
Vitamin A is also important for helping your body's natural defence against illness and infection work properly and keeping skin and the lining of some parts of the body, such as the nose, healthy.
Good sources of vitamin A
Good sources of vitamin A include:
· oily fish
· fortified low-fat spreads
· milk and yoghurt
· liver and liver products such as liver pâté – this is a particularly rich source of vitamin A, so you may be at risk of having too much vitamin A if you have it more than once a week (this is particularly important if you're pregnant)
You can get vitamin A by including good sources of beta-carotene in your diet, as the body can change this into vitamin A.
The main food sources of beta-carotene are:
· yellow, red and green (leafy) vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers
· yellow fruit, such as mango, papaya and apricots