Vitamins that may be helpful

Night blindness may be an early sign of vitamin A deficiency. Such a deficiency may result from diets low in animal foods (the main source of vitamin A), such as eggs, dairy products, organ meats, and some fish. Low intake of fruits and vegetables containing beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, may also contribute to a vitamin A deficiency. Doctors often recommend 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin A per day to correct a deficiency. Beta-carotene is less effective at correcting vitamin A deficiency than is vitamin A itself, because it is not absorbed as well and is only slowly converted by the body into vitamin A.

Dietary zinc deficiency is common, and a lack of zinc may reduce the activity of retinol dehydrogenase, an enzyme needed to help vitamin A work in the eye. Zinc helps night blindness in people who are zinc-deficient;1 therefore, many physicians suggest 15 to 30 mg of zinc per day to support healthy vision. Because long-term zinc supplementation may reduce copper levels, 1 to 2 mg of copper per day (depending on the amount of zinc used) is usually recommended for people who are supplementing with zinc for more than a few weeks.

In a study of women in Nepal, where there is a high prevalence of iron and riboflavin deficiencies, supplementation with 30 mg per day of iron and 6 mg per day of riboflavin for six weeks enhanced the effectiveness of vitamin A in the treatment of night blindness.2 It is not known whether these nutrients would be helpful for night blindness in people who are not deficient.

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