3 Craving that May Reveal Iron Deficiency And What You Can Do About It!


Have you ever had intense cravings of certain food items (or even non-food items)? Don’t overlook these three signs as they could be your body trying to tell you that it’s deficient in iron…

3 Cravings that May Reveal Iron Deficiency
1. Craving Ice
If you have a random craving to eat ice it might not be so random. Craving ice can be a telltale sign of low iron levels.

2. Uncooked starch
This may seem a bit odd but if you are craving starchy items, such as flour or uncooked rice, it could mean you are deficient in iron.

3. Dirt
If you thought uncooked starch was an odd thing to crave, this probably tops it. If you are low on iron, you may crave dirt or other ‘earthy’ items such as charcoal, chalk, or clay.

What are other signs, besides these cravings, that could be a sign of low iron?
Other signs may include feeling tired and weak, difficulty focusing, cold hands or feet, and paleness.

Why do we need iron in our body?
Iron is extremely important in helping your blood carry oxygen to various parts of your body. If you are deficient, it could lead to anemia. Maybe you aren’t getting enough in your diet or maybe your body isn’t absorbing it properly.

How much iron do we need?
The recommended daily intake for adult women is 18mg of iron and this increases with pregnancy. The recommended daily intake for adult men is about 8mg of iron.  The best source of iron is through your food choices.

How can I get iron in my diet?

Some foods that are good sources of iron include:

    • Various meat sources, clams being the highest source of iron
    • enriched whole grain cereal products
    • leafy green vegetables such as parsley or spinach
    • beans
    • potatoes
    • yellow vegetables
    • nuts, seeds, dried fruit

Iron comes in two forms through the diet. It can come from plant sources or from meat sources. Iron in meat sources are 2 to 3 times more easily absorbed than plant sources. Therefore, vegetarians may need to supplement or increase intake of iron-rich vegetables.

What are some ways that we can increase absorption of iron?
One way to increase absorption of Iron is to also eat a source of vitamin C with your iron-filled meal. Some references say this only helps absorption of iron rich food sources, not supplements.  For example, you could pair a spinach salad with strawberries, which are known for their high vitamin C.

What are some foods that may decrease absorption of iron?
If you are low on iron, you should know that drinking a lot of tea, coffee or soda during your meal, or within an hour after meals, can lead to decreased iron absorption due to the high levels of tannic acid. Additionally, calcium found in dairy products may decrease absorption in the same way.
If you are worried you may be deficient in iron, it is important to see a doctor so that they can test you for iron deficiency and provide you with customized nutritional advice.  You do not want to take iron supplements without doctor permission as high amounts of iron could be dangerous.


Kloss, Jethro. “Back to Eden.” Lotus Press. 2009.
“Iron deficiency anemia.” MayoClinic.com. 1/2/2014.
Mahan, Kathleen and Escott-Stump, Sylvia. “Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy: 12th ed.” W.B. Saunders Co. 2008.
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