Are you craving that ice left over from a fountain drink or walking around chomping on cups of shaved ice? You are not alone – in fact, I did this a lot when I was pregnant with my first kiddo and couldn’t get enough crushed ice! This is a common symptom of Pica.
Pica is a condition that involves craving and consuming non-food items such as dirt, paper, chalk, or ice. Pica can be dangerous and can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. In this blog post, we will discuss what pica is, its causes, and how it can be treated.
What is Pica?
Pica is a compulsive eating disorder that involves the consumption of non-food substances. The items that are commonly consumed by individuals with pica include dirt, clay, paper, paint chips, chalk, ice, and other non-food items. Pica is most commonly seen in children, pregnant women, and individuals with certain mental health conditions. Pica can be dangerous and can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
Causes of Pica
The exact cause of pica is not known, but there are several factors that have been linked to the development of this condition. These include:
1. Nutritional deficiencies: Pica can be caused by deficiencies in certain nutrients such as iron, zinc, or calcium.
2. Developmental disorders: Pica can be seen in individuals with developmental disorders such as autism and intellectual disabilities.
3. Mental health conditions: Pica is commonly seen in individuals with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
4. Pregnancy: Pica is also seen in pregnant women, and it is believed that hormonal changes during pregnancy may contribute to the development of this condition.
Treatment of Pica
The treatment of pica depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Here are some common treatment options for pica:
1. Nutritional counseling: If pica is caused by a nutritional deficiency, a healthcare provider may recommend nutritional counseling or supplements to address the deficiency.
2. Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy can be helpful in treating pica in individuals with mental health conditions. This can include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or other forms of therapy that address compulsive behaviors.
3. Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to treat underlying mental health conditions that contribute to pica.
4. Environmental modifications: In cases where pica is caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to lead or other toxins, environmental modifications may be necessary to prevent exposure to these substances.
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Consumer Reports completed a review of iron pills, liquids and chews back in January 2022 and has the following recommendations:
NOW Iron provided 18mg in vegetarian capsule in the form ferrous bisglycinate. This form has been shown to be absorbed 2-4 times better than ferrous sulfate when taken with food. It is also inexpensive.
Nature Made Iron is a high-dose option of 65mg ferrous sulfate, and can be taken with only water.
Life Extension Iron Protein Plus provides 15mg of iron per capsule and is a good option for those that tend to become constipated with iron supplementation.
Top pick for liquid is Mary Ruth’s vegan liquid iron which has a pleasant taste.
For a chew, Fusion Lifestyle Soft Chews were mildly sweet with no iron taste and 45mg iron.
Slow release such as Slow Fe may not be bioavailable in the small intestine due to the slow-release nature of this product. This could decrease the overall amount of iron consumed from supplementation.
Treatment of pica depends on the underlying cause of the condition and can include nutritional counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, and environmental modifications. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of pica, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment. We can help you with that! Make an appointment today: https://kaizennutritionwellness.practicebetter.io/#/603a50d22a902906e4cb6ea4/bookings?r=611d7b3e3980330700d07969&step=services
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