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If You've Got A Craving For Dirt, You Could Be Anemic.

Anemia, or iron deficiency, is the most common blood disorder in the world, but it often goes undiagnosed. According to the World Health Organization, it likely affects more than 25 per cent of the population. Although it is most common in school-age children, non-pregnant women are the most affected by anemia.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), about 20 per cent of women of childbearing age have iron deficiency anemia.  If left untreated, it can cause serious health problems including heart failure or an enlarged heart.

So, how do you detect the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States?

Here is a list of symptoms of moderate to severe iron deficiency anemia, according to the American Society of Hematology, (ASH):

  1. General Fatigue
  2. Weakness
  3. Pale Skin
  4. Shortness of Breath
  5. Dizziness
  6. Strange cravings - like dirt, paint chips, clay, cardboard and corn starch
  7. Tingling or crawling feeling in your legs
  8. Swollen, or sore tongue
  9. Cold hands and feet
  10. Fast or irregular heartbeat
  11. Brittle nails
  12. Headaches


Thankfully, iron deficiency anemia is preventable and can be avoided by eating a diet with high iron foods and vitamin C.

You might try one, or a combination of these high-iron foods:

  • lamb, pork, chicken and beef
  • beans
  • pumpkin and squash seeds
  • leafy greens - especially spinach and kale
  • dried fruit - like raisins or apricots
  • eggs
  • seafood - try clams, sardines, shrimp and oysters
  • iron-fortified dry and instant cereals

If you're stumped for inspiration, check out our recipes for Bourbon Coke Steak with Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Chicken Caesar Wrap or Gyros with Greek Chicken.

Menstruating or nursing women  need about 15 mg of iron each day, while pregnant women require about 30 mg daily. If you aren't sure how much iron you consume in your daily meals, try this Food Advisor - just put in what you eat per day or week and it will calculate everything for you!

With a few, small, dietary changes, you can prevent iron deficiency anemia and those strange cravings for mud pie!

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