Everyone craves certain foods at certain times of the day or month. While these craving could be about our love of junk food or crunchy fruits, sometimes yearning for a specific type of food can indicate a vitamin deficiency we would never think to pair with the craving. Find your sweet tooth comes out in the winter? You could be lacking vitamin D due to less sun exposure. Some cravings are the body's way of telling us we need to amp up our nutrition.
If your food cravings are for salty foods rather than sweet, research suggests this could be due to a calcium deficiency. Calcium keeps our bones strong and healthy and does much more for our systems, besides. If you lack in calcium, you might be at an increased risk of developing bone-thinning diseases like osteopenia. Other symptoms that you need a higher calcium intake include lethargy, brittle fingernails, and difficulty swallowing. If you believe you need more calcium, try eating more dark leafy greens, seeds, beans and lentils, and natural dairy products.
If you're craving citrus fruits, you could have a mild vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is an important nutrient that has a lot of benefits. It is one of the most important supplements for a healthy immune system, which prevents viruses and infections from attacking our bodies. This deficiency is quite rare and can cause skin problems, sore joints, and fatigue. Try eating strawberries, tomatoes, and oranges.
Vitamin D is a nutrient that the human body produces naturally by absorbing sunlight. In parts of the world, or during seasons, where there is less sunlight, vitamin D deficiencies are quite common. If you feel fatigued and are craving sugary foods, your body might need more vitamin D. Luckily, vitamin D supplements are readily available, and lots of foods are fortified with the nutrient, including milk, cereal, and orange juice. Additionally, salmon, tuna, and egg yolks are naturally high in vitamin D.
If you find yourself craving ice cubes to munch on, you might have an iron deficiency. This nutrient deficit can lead to extremely low levels of red blood cell, which are needed to carry oxygen around the body. If oxygen does not get to your muscles and tissues, iron-deficient anemia can develop. If you suspect your body is running low on iron, add more dark green leafy vegetables and lean meats to your diet.
Unlike vitamin D, the body cannot create vitamin B12 on its own, but the nutrient is essential for nerve and metabolism health. Those with vitamin B12 deficiencies might crave chocolate. After you've indulged a bit (dark chocolate has a lot of health benefits, after all), you may need to increase your intake of organ meats and other animal products, which are some of the only natural sources of vitamin B12. If you do not eat animal products, some plant-based foods such as soy alternatives and nutritional yeast are fortified with the nutrient.
Women who experience irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding might be lacking in iodine, which is vital to metabolism. While iodine deficiencies are rare in the U.S., they are not unheard of. In fact, there is research that suggests it might be more common than we think. If you are craving salty potato chips, your body could be lacking iodine. Seafood and sea vegetables are some of the richest sources of this trace mineral. Try adding cod, shrimp, tuna, and seaweed to your diet.
In addition to vitamin B12, cravings for chocolate and other sweets could be a sign of a magnesium deficiency. If your sugary yearnings are paired with irritable or anxious feelings, you could need more of this mineral, which is essential for more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body. To up your magnesium, try eating nuts, seeds, and kale instead of chocolate.
Potassium is another nutrient deficiency that can lead to cravings for sweets. Experts link a diet rich in potassium to wide-ranging good health. Benefits of the mineral and electrolyte include lower blood pressure and protection against strokes, kidney stones, and osteoporosis. It's not uncommon to get too little potassium in your diet, but adding bananas and leafy greens is a great way to up your intake and prevent the fatigue, muscle cramps, and digestive issues a deficiency can cause.
Fat has a bad reputation. While it is true there are harmful fats, this nutrient is also essential for a healthy body. Omega-3 fatty acids are an example of beneficial fats. They contribute to cognitive and visual development, immune strength, and brain health. If you're craving fried foods, you might need more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. You can get these in flaxseed, walnuts, and fish.
Most of us get enough B6 in our diets. However, if you have deficiencies in other B vitamins, its quite possible you also lack vitamin B6, which can lead to cravings for potatoes, rice, and other carb-loaded foods. Counteract these cravings and up your B6 levels by eating more chicken, soya beans, and fortified wholegrain cereals.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.