Can you eat ice when your iron is low? 

In this article we are going to answer: can you eat ice when your iron is low, what causes people to crave ice, what is the treatment for pica and low iron, can eating ice cause other conditions to develop, and can you treat ice craving. 

Can you eat ice when your iron is low?

Yes, you can eat ice when your iron is low but it doesn’t help with low iron levels. It is a sign that you are low in iron. According to Harvard, pagophagia is usually associated with pregnancy and iron deficiency anemia. 

There is no scientific evidence why people crave ice but there may be a correlation between tongue inflammation in iron deficiency anemia and chewing ice. Also, it may be because of emotional discomfort. 

What is pagophagia?

Pagophagia is the condition when people have an intense craving to chew on ice. It is a type of pica. You have pagophagia if your desire to eat or chew ice is really intense. Other symptoms apart from eating ice are

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Pale and dry skin
  • Sore tongue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Dizziness

What is pica?

Pica is a disorder where people compulsively eat items with no nutritional value. People may eat non-nutritional items like

  • Ice
  • Soap
  • Buttons
  • Clay
  • Hair
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Cigarette ashes
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Chalk
  • Feces

This disorder appears most often in children, pregnant women, with low iron anemia, or accompanied by mental disorders. There is no single cause for pica but there are some underlying conditions that trigger pica.

What causes people to crave ice?

  • Iron deficiency
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Eating disorder
  • Dry mouth
  • Mental health issues

Iron deficiency

It is the most common cause of craving ice. 

Calcium deficiency

Low levels of calcium can also cause ice cravings.

Eating disorder

There are two reasons to eat ice when you have an eating disorder. First, because of nutrient deficiencies, and second, because ice can fill your empty stomach. 

Dry mouth

It can help to moisturize the mouth of people who have a condition called xerostomia. 

Mental health issues

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder or stress can crave to eat ice. 

What are low iron and its side effects?

If you don’t treat low iron it can be fatal for your health. Iron is vital for you to have enough oxygen in your whole body. When you have anemia, there is a lack of enough healthy red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to your body’s tissues. 

You can see low hemoglobin or low iron when you have anemia in your blood panel.  Without enough iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout your whole body. 

Symptoms of anemia include

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Pica: craving ice, dirt, or starch
  • Poor appetite

What is the treatment for pica?

There is no treatment for pica. You need to treat the underlying disease that is causing you to crave ice. 

What is the treatment for low iron?

To treat low iron or anemia you can

  • Increase your iron and vitamin C intake from: red meat, legumes, and leafy greens. 
  • Iron supplements
  • Iron infusions
  • Blood transfusion 

Some complications if anemia isn’t treated are

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Enlarged heart
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Increased infections
  • Growth and development delays

Can eating ice cause other conditions to develop?

  • Dental health problems
  • Malnutrition

Dental health problems

Dental health problems are the main side effect of eating too much ice. The American Dental Association lists it as one of the top things that damage your teeth. It can damage teeth, damage braces or fillings, and crack your teeth. These can lead to other oral problems. 


Because ice does not have any nutritional benefits, it can lead you to nutrient deficiency even more. If you are eating ice because of an eating disorder, malnutrition is a higher side effect. 

How can you treat ice cravings?

You need to treat the underlying conditions. Such as anemia or calcium deficiency. 

What are some foods rich in iron?

There are two forms of iron that come in food, heme, and no heme. You can find heme in animal protein like meat, poultry, and seafood. Non-heme is found in plant foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, leafy greens, and fortified foods. 

  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Wholemeal pasta and bread
  • Iron-fortified bread and breakfast cereal
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, beet, broccoli)
  • Oats
  • Red meat

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults 19-50 years is 8 mg and for women is 18 mg, 27 mg if pregnant and 9 mg if breastfeeding. Women can lose iron when menstruating and in pregnancy because of the rapid growth of the fetus. 

Here is a link for more iron-rich food.

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This article answered can you eat ice when your iron is low, what causes people to crave ice, what is the treatment for pica and low iron, can eating ice cause other conditions to develop, and can you treat ice craving?”