MONSTER CRAVINGS CAUSED BY SIMPLE NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES: Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids and Essential Fatty Acids

By Dr. Laura Thompson

One of the first taps on your shoulder that you get when you have a vitamin, mineral, amino acid or fatty acid deficiency, is a craving. Recurrent cravings become recurrent taps on your shoulder – clues to pay attention to. Clues to look deeper. Yes, there may be emotional causes, but nutrients are always part of the picture.  

Most nutrient deficiencies go unnoticed, so you have to be a nutrition detective in order to discover them. It is not so difficult. 

Listen to your body. Really. Desire for certain foods, repetitively, can indicate more than just cravings – or addictions. At the root, these could be the need for more protein, better carbs, more vitamin B or zinc.  

(Is there a method behind the madness?)

Love of certain foods is one thing that makes the world go 'round. We all have our desires - the foods that make our tongues hang out. Unnatural food cravings however, appear as obsessions. They can lead to a distorted perception of food and even eating disorders. When children and adults crave certain foods, there is often a reason - a reason based on body needs -- nutrient deficiencies:


  • Need for brain fuel or energy - (Carbohydrates fuel the brain.)
  • Need for body fuel or energy - (Carbohydrates fuel the body.)
  • Deficiency of amino acids or protein 
  • Presence of infection or yeast in the body. Bacteria, yeast, viruses, parasites, cancer cells thrive on sugar.

Alcohol (all forms):

  • Need for brain fuel or energy
  • Need for body fuel or energy
  • Hypoglycemia – poor sugar metabolism and protein deficiency
  • Presence of yeast in the body – As alcohol is fermented, yeast or candida in the body can cause you to crave alcohol in order to feed the yeast. This is especially true with beer and wine. 

Bread, cereal, pasta:

  • Need for brain and body fuel
  • Unbalanced blood sugar
  • Presence of infection or yeast in the body


  • Need for minerals for supporting the adrenal glands in producing energy
  • Dehydration or need for water - The body craves salt to help retain water.


  • Need for EFA's (essential fatty acids) for brain power
  • Need for proteins/amino acids for proper neurotransmission for balanced brain chemistry
  • Need protein/amino acids for muscle fuel

Spicy or highly seasoned food:

  • Need for nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals
  • Need for zinc - When deficient, it can lead to impaired sense of taste and smell. Some people require strong tasting food because they don't taste anything otherwise.


  • Need for iron – Person may be anemic.
  • Need for folic acid, B6 or B12

Dirt or clay:

  • Need for minerals or other nutrients - People with the eating disorder, pica, crave non-food substances. The body is looking for nutrition from dirt, clay, soap, paint chips, cigarette ashes or broken crockery. Serious mineral deficiencies, as well as metal toxicity can lead to this disorder. 


The answer to eliminating cravings is to -- correct the deficiencies. Replenish the nutrients. You can figure it out yourself with the list above, or you can get specialized testing to determine your individual issues. Generally, I suggest:

  • Blood Test Assessment to see indicators and patterns that reveal deficiencies and imbalances.
  • Bio Terrain testing to look at vitamin, mineral or antioxidant deficiencies
  • Neurotransmitter testing to reveal amino acid deficiencies and brain chemical imbalances

The first test is probably familiar to you. Most people have had blood tests before. Ask your doctor or health practitioner to assess your blood work in a special way, with highly specialized computer software. The analysis tells your individual nutritional story. It can help pinpoint issues before they become medical problems. This is especially helpful for people who’ve been told that their blood test looks fine, yet they don’t feel tiptop.

Tests 2 and 3 are simple urine collections, easy for adults, as well as children. And if you have a PPO insurance policy and you’ve met your deductible this year, the neurotransmitter testing is essentially free. The lab test is covered by all PPO’s.  What a great gift. It’s a rarity in the natural medicine field to have something covered by insurance!

Taking action now to keep cravings under control at holiday time will help you avoid some of the common hazards. Imagine if everyone kept their blood sugar balanced, brain fueled and immune system strong during the holidays. We would have fewer arguments, less depression, and relatively no colds or flues. The trickle down effect would be enormous!

Dr. Laura Thompson, Family Nutritionist and Naturopathic Endocrinologist has a nationwide practice by phone, and locally in Carlsbad, California. Call for in-home testing info, 800-608-5602.  

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products suggested, are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please check with your health care practitioner for your best health options.

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