Do Nutrient Deficiencies Cause Cravings?

Cravings are defined as urgent, abnormal, intense, or longings. Some people believe that these are caused due to nutrient deficiency. Some insist that carvings are about what our brain wants not what our body needs. Here in this article we will observe and will explore whether can form of nutrition deficiency cause food cravings or not.

Link between Nutrient Deficiencies and Cravings

A lot of people believe that food cravings are the body subconscious way of feeling the nutritional need. They think that when there is a lack of specific nutrient in the body then body naturally craves for the food that is rich in that nutrient.

For instance, cravings for cheese or meat are often seen as a sign of low calcium and iron and chocolate carvings are seen as a sign of lower magnesium levels.

Nutrient Deficiencies That May Cause Cravings

Sometimes carvings lead to insufficient intake of certain nutrients.


This is mostly found in the pregnant women and in the children but its exact cause is still unknown. This is a type of condition in which a person craves on a substance such as dirt, ice, soil, laundry. In some studies, it is observed that the individuals who have the symptoms of Pica have low calcium, zinc and iron levels.

Sodium Deficiency:

Sodium is very essential for our body and is needed for our survival and these also help in maintaining the body’s fluid balance. So, cravings for salty foods, sodium are the signs that the body requires more sodium.

Individuals who have a deficiency in sodium have strong cravings for salty food. But sodium deficiency is found very rare in the people, in fact, sodium is found excess in the people body in almost all the part of the world.

So cravings for salty food may not mean that your body is deficient in sodium.

Why Deficiencies May Not Be Linked to Cravings

There are several arguments are made against “nutrient deficiency” theory. Here are some arguments that are most compelling:

Cravings are gender specific:

As per the research, the frequency of the carvings is partially influenced by gender.

For example, women tend to feel carvings twice to that of a man. Men are more likely to crave savory food and on the other hand, women crave for sweet foods such as chocolate. Carving to savory food is due to the deficiency of sodium and the chocolate cravings are due to the deficiency of magnesium.

Other likely causes for cravings:

Carvings are caused by some other factors other than nutrient deficiency. It can be caused by a variety of social, psychological, physical cues.

  • Specific mood
  • High-Stress level
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Suppressed thoughts
  • Poor Hydration
  • Insufficient protein or fiber.

How to reduce cravings?

Now, the individuals who experience cravings a lot can follow the down written strategies to reduce them:

For the starters not drinking enough water and skipping meals leads to the cravings and hunger. So, if you’re having your meals at a proper time and you staying well hydrated then there is the likelihood of reducing carvings.

The more other factors include is getting sufficient amount of sleep and regularly doing meditation or yoga can help in reducing the likelihood of cravings.

Bottom Line:

Generally speaking, cravings are caused by various external factors and have nothing to do with the body calling for any specific nutrient.