Science Questions with Surprising Answers
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Dr. Christopher S. Baird

How do carrots help you see in the dark?

Category: Health      Published: December 15, 2012

By: Christopher S. Baird, author of The Top 50 Science Questions with Surprising Answers and Associate Professor of Physics at West Texas A&M University

Carrots do not give humans better-than-normal night vision. Public Domain Image, source: Christopher S. Baird.

Carrots do not help you see in the dark. Carrots do provide Vitamin A (in beta-carotene form) which is used by your body to maintain normal eyesight. But eating excess Vitamin A does not lead to better-than-normal eyesight. Most Americans get sufficient Vitamin A in their diet and therefore have the best eyesight that carrots can provide. This myth was created by the British during World War II to hide a secret weapon, according to the book "The Invention That Changed the World" by Robert Buderi. During the war, the British Royal Air Force had been intercepting night-time Nazi air attacks at surprisingly good rates. In an effort to conceal the secret weapon that was giving them such success, the British pretended their high night-time spotting rates were a result of their pilots eating large quantities of carrots. The real cause of their success was a then cutting-edge technology known as radar. While overeating carrots may not help you see in the dark, it can make your skin orange. This is a harmless condition known as Carotenosis.

Topics: beta carotene, carrot, carrots, dark, eyes, night vision, see in the dark, vision