Q. I saw an article about ice craving and related vitamin or mineral deficiencies. You said a popcorn addiction could also signal a deficiency in something, but you didn’t say what.

I eat popcorn ALL THE TIME. Could you please tell me what I might be lacking?

A. Ask your doctor to check your iron and zinc levels. If either of them is low, it could lead you to binge on popcorn even when you don’t really want it.

When people crave non-food substances such as clay, cornstarch or ice, doctors call the condition pica. But many readers have told us that similar uncontrollable cravings for popcorn, tomatoes or carrots cleared up when their anemia or zinc deficiencies were corrected. We have heard from a few people who craved radishes.

We trust that once you are tested and the deficiency identified, you will be able to find a way to correct it. After that, you may be surprised that you just won’t be interested in popcorn any more often than other people.

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  1. Susan

    When my iron level is low, I crave popcorn, when it gets to the point that’s all I want to eat then I am ready to get an iron infusion. Once I get my iron, I can’t stand the sight of popcorn till the next time.

  2. conie

    I eat 6 to 7 microwave popcorn bags a day.I want nothing else.I am Type 2 diabetic.Does that mean anything? Couple months ago i craved Blue slushes.I had 3 to 4 large ones a day.Before that A Certain type of chips.Do you know what is making me have these cravings?

  3. everlena

    since I started eating healthier, all I want to eat is popcorn on the stove

  4. Betty

    I ate popcorn every day for over three years-obsessively. I only wanted it made in an iron Dutch oven with coconut oil and sea salt. I only wanted the popcorn and could have forgone all other food and drinks if it meant I could eat popcorn. Four months ago I was diagnosed as being anemic, very anemic and a week after my first iron infusion I forgot about popcorn. It has been over 4 months and I have NO desire to have popcorn. Could there be a connection?

    • Susan

      Yes that’s me

  5. Bev
    Gainesville, FL

    I too, have had an abnormal appetite for ice and popcorn. I eat 2 micro wave bags every day and cannot deny myself because it’s all I think about. I have hyperthyroidism and have been on medication for that for a few years and I get it check at least 2 times a year. I have a fast heart rate and get out of breath, and have had a heart stress test, and nuclear heart test, colonoscopy and gastro test at the same time, and all was normal. I am under a lot of stress and feel tired much of the time, but manage to get all my daily things done. My hemoglobin was 9 the last time it was checked 2 months ago. I also have a lot of muscle aches and pain and some nights it is hard to sleep. What should I have tested next?

  6. betty

    I craved popcorn, addicted to popcorn for over 3 years…until it was determined that I was extremely anemic. A week after the first iron infusion, I had NO desire for popcorn. none. This is after 3 years of wanting it ALL the time, every meal, between meals, I’d give up everything just to eat popcorn. But now I could couldn’t care less. any connection? makes me wonder.

  7. CJ

    I have the same question about eating popcorn all of the time. Will it cause an imbalance of nutrients? I cook it the same way as above- in a brown paper bag, but with oil and I do add popcorn salt. Since I have been making it this way rather than “store-bought” microwave popcorn, I crave it all of the time.

    • The People's Pharmacy

      It doesn’t sound dangerous, but it might be displacing other nutritious foods. Do ask your doctor to check for deficiencies (especially iron or zinc) the next time you have a check-up. Correcting the deficiency usually gets rid of the cravings.

  8. JWC

    A “normal” thyroid or iron test result does not mean that your thyroid or iron is OK. For years, I have been perplexed about why my thyroid tests, including free T3 and T4 are normal when I have every symptom of low thyroid. I tried Armour and all of the other doctor prescribed meds for low thyroid even though my tests were all normal. Didn’t help and just caused my heart to race.
    My iron tests are all normal yet I have symptom after symptom of iron deficiency. My Restless Leg Syndrome was making my nights miserable. I tried the standard iron years ago and it did not improve my RLS and just caused digestive symptoms. About 6 months ago, I saw some iron that was touted as a “better tolerated form of iron”. Within two days of taking a 1/4 dose of this iron, my RLS had moderated to 10% of its original problem. My leg cramps that heretofore were only held at bay with soap in the bed stopped completely. I worked up to a full dose in a few weeks and I am rarely troubled with RLS. All of this with “normal” iron tests.
    I started researching the connection between low iron and thyroid problems and found out that there is a connection. I also learned that just because my iron levels are normal doesn’t mean that my body has access to that iron. I learned to not take my dessicated thyroid at the same time that I took iron and they cancel each other out. I learned to always take iron with Vitamin C. I also learned that I cannot expect any overnight miracles with my thyroid like I did with RLS and leg cramps, that it will take 2 to 3 months as thyroid is a very slow actor. I am currently taking 50 mg of Carbonyl iron. I understand from my research that Iron Glycinate might even be better.

  9. s.h.

    I used to chew ice as a child and recently found my old medical records in my mama’s things. I was being treated for anemia during that time!
    I must write again that I tried the low dose-over the counter iron supplement for another problem, that is when a song would get stuck in my head. like after hearing “On The Road, Again”, etc. I am a musician and this can be annoying. I decided to give it a try, since it only happened a couple times a year [now].
    I just took 1 little OTC iron tablet 2 days in a row, and just forgot about it. Day 2 it stops. NOT a coincidence, I am convinced. IT happens to musicians fairly often.

  10. Soozi

    I pop 1/4 cup of popcorn in a small brown lunch bag, in the microwave. No oil. No salt. Salt free spices for seasoning, but I enjoy it plain. It’s a little warm in winter, satisfies crunching in front of the tv every night. Some days we eat two servings each.
    It’s not a craving. It’s our healthiest choice for a snack.
    Is it unhealthy to eat that much salt free, fat free popcorn? Every day? Can it lead to an imbalance of nutrients?

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