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Craving EarthUnderstanding Pica--the Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice, and Chalk$
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Sera Young

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231146098

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231146098.001.0001

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Pica as a Micronutrient Supplement

Pica as a Micronutrient Supplement

(p.97) Chapter Eight Pica as a Micronutrient Supplement
Craving Earth

Sera L. Young

Columbia University Press

This chapter continues the discussion began in Chapter 7 and explores the possibility that a micronutrient deficiency motivates pica. It examines predictions that can be made from this hypothesis: pica would be associated with a micronutrient deficiency; pica would be associated with populations with the highest micronutrient requirements; elimination of the deficiency would cause pica to cease; and pica substances would provide micronutrients in which the consumer is deficient. It concludes that existing data do not lend much support to the supplementation hypothesis. In fact, the opposite of supplementation may be happening; pica substances may be causing micronutrient deficiencies. Experimental evidence supports the idea that some pica substances interfere with the absorption of micronutrients and can thus contribute to deficiencies.

Keywords:   pica, non-food cravings, micronutrient deficiency, supplementation, iron, zinc

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