Got a Sweet Tooth?

Got a Sweet Tooth?

Maybe not. If you are someone who used to crave salty snacks but recently have found yourself salivating at the thought of a Hershey’s bar, it may not be just a sweet tooth, but in fact, a real medical problem.

Chocolate cravings specifically can often be a sign of Hypomagnesemia, since the Cacao plant is one of nature’s biggest magnesium sources.  You may also find yourself craving sweets if you are lacking phosphorus, sulphur, chromium, or tryptophan (although it is quite uncommon to see deficiencies of the latter in the Western world).

More common deficiencies include calcium, which can manifest as cravings for cheese or soda and fizzy drinks and iron, which can present as cravings for red meat, coffee or black tea, or ice (a condition known as Pica).

There are many reasons for people to become deficient in certain vitamins or minerals.  One of the biggest factors is the generally poor Western diet, which for a lot of people tends to include too much processed fast food, and not enough leafy greens, crisp veggies, or juicy fruits.  Other factors that can lead to an imbalance in nutrients are kidney disease, liver disease, malabsorption from the GI tract, or various side effects of medications.  These tend to increase in prevalence as we get older, but any of these reasons can affect people of all ages, so if you find yourself all of a sudden craving food you never used to care for, it may be a good idea to check in with your primary care doctor to get some of your levels checked.  (Or take a pregnancy test…pickles anyone?)

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