According to Alina Petre, MS, a growing number of people believe that food cravings are the body’s subconscious way of filling a nutritional need. It is assumed that when the body lacks a specific nutrient, it naturally craves foods that are rich in that nutrient.
Research done by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has found that it can be true, that the urge to eat certain foods may be a symptom of a specific vitamin or mineral shortage. Here are some food cravings that you may have that is telling your body it needs more vitamins.
Craving chocolate could mean that you are dealing with a magnesium deficiency. This is most common in women because menstruation can deplete magnesium. According to Nutritional scientists at the University of Central Lancashire, many things can lead to magnesium deficiency, like drinking too much soda, coffee, tea, or alcohol. Consuming a diet too high in sugar can cause this deficiency, and high levels of stress can as well. Great sources of the mineral can also come from spinach, almonds, avocados, and shrimp. If you do eat chocolate, dark chocolate is the best because it contains a high dose of magnesium.
Salt and Sugar
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that people with low zinc levels often have deadened sense of taste, which makes them crave salty and sugary foods. As you age, your ability to absorb zinc declines, but it helps support your immune system and increases heart and bone health. You can also have a zinc deficiency when you lead a high-stress lifestyle. The best foods to eat when you are feeling this craving are eggs, nuts, oysters, liver, and dark poultry meant to satiate and up your zinc.
If you are craving meat and are also feeling lethargic, you may be low in iron. This is an extremely common deficiency, especially in vegans, vegetarians as well as women during their pre-menopausal years. These meat cravings can stem from the fact that iron sources from plant-based foods aren’t as promptly utilized by the body as animal-based iron sources, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Other than chicken, beef and pork, great sources of iron include beans, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Also have a food that is rich in vitamin C, like broccoli, red bell peppers, or strawberries to boost iron absorption.
When you are having a cheese craving, nutritionists say it is likely you’re missing omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are among the best fat sources. Great sources of this essential fatty acid can be found in wild-caught tuna, salmon, sardines, cheese, and eggs. If you’re looking to eggs for omega-3s, Pennsylvania State University suggests sourcing them from farms that pasture feed their chicken in natural sunlight, as they provide a better source of long-chain omega-3 fats.
A vitamin B deficiency can cause some non-nutritive cravings such as ice, dirt, soil cornstarch, and others. This is known as pica, commonly in pregnant women and children, and its exact cause is unknown. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, pica can be a symptom of anemia—due to B-12, folate, or iron deficiency. Craving foods like leafy greens, rice, fortified cereals, seafood, eggs, bananas, poultry, dairy and potatoes can also indicate a deficiency from the B-vitamin family.