Can a lack of vitamins really make you go blind?

Updated: Sep 25, 2019


You may have seen in the news recently the story about a boy who lost his sight due to a poor diet of chips, white bread, processed snacks and meat.  I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you some of the science behind the story and also give you some support if you are worried about your own child.


What actually happened?


It’s reported that he was a fussy eater from a young age and could not tolerate the texture of fruit and vegetables, leading to an eating disorder called Avo

idant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.


This has led to nutritional optic neuropathy, which in plain English means that the nerve endings that supply the messages from his brain to his eyes have been damaged.  Whilst he was not found to be under or overweight, he was malnourished.  Due to the severity of his condition, this is now irreversible.


This can happen due to a lack of B12 and Iron, which the doctors confirmed at his appointment and prescribed a treatment of supplements which he, unfortunately, didn’t follow. 


How much of these nutrients do we need?


The recommended daily amount for of B12 for adults is 1 microgram and Iron intake can differ across age groups and also between men and women, on average it’s about 14 milligrams a day. 


Taking too much of either of these supplements can be dangerous, so make sure you get advice from you GP.


How can you make sure you are getting enough of these in your diet?


You can get B12 from these foods:

Oysters

Sardines

Chicken

Tuna

Trout

Salmon

Dairy products

Eggs 

White Potatoes

Banana

Some fortified cereals


It might surprise you to know that the food highest in Iron is, in fact, the one at the top of this list:

Spirulina

Lentils

Broccoli

Cabbage

Spinach

Rocket

Lettuce

Onion

Garlic

Potatoes

Liver

Red meat


The condition that this boy has developed is very rare and is not often seen in this country, this is in fact the first case in the UK due to malnutrition.  Most of us eat a balanced and healthy diet, therefore please don’t panic and worry that you need to do anything different.  But if you are concerned, please see your GP.


If you worry (like I did!) that your child might not be getting everything they need, then I have some ideas to help you out.


Top tips to help a fussy eater


When we call food ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can lead to children feeling ‘good’ or ‘bad’ if they eat these foods and can lead to other issues later on surrounding food, also by banning certain foods completely children are far more likely to rebel and might seek these foods out in secret, or eat them at a friend’s house anyway!  Instead by encouraging them to recognise ‘everyday’ food and ‘sometimes’ food we can educate them to make more informed choices about the food they eat. 

Lead by example, if they see you eating more ‘everyday’ foods they are more likely to copy you. 


•Make a meal plan together, a mixture of the foods they like with other things you want to include.

•Shopping bingo – give them a list of what you need and let them find it in the supermarket

•Cook together – let them prep things if they are able to

•Blind taste game – take it in turns to guess what a food is without seeing it

•Chop it – put it on skewers, chop it up small, etc

•Dip it – try hummus, tomato sauce or dips that they can use

•Hide it – chop it up small and put in sauces, or blend it up 

•Shape it – use cookie cutters to make it fun (sandwiches, cheese, etc)


If you would like some more advice about supporting your family, please get in touch.


Bonny Prim

Health & Wellbeing Coach

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This programme does not constitute a formal coaching programme and results cannot be guaranteed

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Location: Swindon, Wiltshire