Why is wanting to chew ice a sign of anemia? Why do you wanna chew ice if you have an iron deficiency?

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Why is wanting to chew ice a sign of anemia? Why do you wanna chew ice if you have an iron deficiency?

In: Biology

It’s called pica. People chew things like chalk, mud, etc. Things with no nutritional value. My mom used to do it, and then I realised it when I was taught about iron deficiency anaemia.

But nobody knows why, though.

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I don’t believe there is anything humans used to eat, that was ice-like, that ever gave us iron.

Pica is a mechanism to eat more diverse food sources, as a means to get the nutrients needed to survive that are missing from a diet, as a last ditch effort, by eating things that an animal doesn’t consider edible. Normally this would be a good way to get sick, but when malnourished this might be a risk worth taking.

For example, lots of animals have odd dietary habits like licking rocks, for salt intake. Pica could be seen as a biological mechanism to get a goat who doesn’t think rocks are food, to start licking them again. The same underlying forces are probably at work with humans, too, when they have a vitamin deficiency.

In another thread not too long ago, somebody mentioned how it increases blood flow to the brain, which is good when being low on iron or having low blood pressure might cause passing out!

Don’t know how true that is, but I’m anemic with low BP, and used to chew on “ice in a towel” (ice cubes wrapped in a wet dishcloth) as a kid. Now, I mostly crave Slush Puppies (not easy to find anymore!)

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