My mother has told me that if your body needs a certain vitamin, you will find you feel like eating fruits that include that vitamin.

For example, if you have lack of Vitamin C, you'll get a craving to eat an orange.

Is this true?

  • 1
    I don't recall reports of early long distance sailors knowing they were going to get scurvy because they couldn't eat the fruit they needed.
    – Mark Hurd
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 9:27
  • @MarkHurd: I think that presence of the material in question is probably implied. So, if you're short on Vitamin C, you won't necessarily sit there, going, "You know what, I could really do by an orange", but rather, when you see it on the counter, you desire it. shrug And I suspect that the sailor's accounts probably do include cases where they were yearning for fruits, but they were probably yearning for anything with flavor after months of hardtack and jerky. Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 18:28
  • Not precisely related, but skeptics.stackexchange.com/a/3248/19346 indicates that there is some degree of your body finding items with the nutrients you need more desirable in taste. But that's after eating, not before. Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 18:30
  • Adding this for the joy of somewhat-related weirdness: bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-32428154
    – Benjol
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 13:36
  • I'd agree with the Dukes comments on reddit That hunger cravings is such a complex process it's hard to give a certain answer other than there is an evolved system in humans that generates cravings Pica which probably evolved as an unreliable system that was better than none in malnutrition environments Commented May 7, 2015 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


Ok, this would appear to be supported.

Some of the papers I link will be about rats, some about humans because it's unethical to intentionally starve humans of vitamins.

Compulsive eating habits are a known symptom of vitamin deficiencies. For example patients suffering iron deficiency have been known to crave raw potatoes(high in iron), a craving which goes away after therapy with iron sulfate.


When rats are deficient in Vitamin B1 they have been shown to be able to detect solutions containing it from among a number of other solutions in similar containers and they then drink a lot of it.


Sodium deficient rats show a specific preference for the taste of sodium salt over other salts.


Though there is some evidence that in some cases deficiencies can induce a more general novel-diet preference: ie you get the urge to eat lots of weird things on the off chance that one of them will contain what your body needs.


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