You want to know why you’re craving Ice?

There are 4 main reasons why people crave Ice.

  1. Iron Defiency Aneamia
  2. Vitamin B12 Defiency / Pernicious Aneamia
  3. They just really love Ice!

I will go into more detail about the main symptoms of the first 2 below. If you have a fair few of the Symptoms on the list, it’s definately worth a visit to the GP or a Healthcare Professional and getting some blood tests to check your levels. Please, don’t start taking any vitamins until you have had your levels checked as in the case of B12 it will mask your “real” B12 levels and in the case of Iron – if you aren’t Deficient it is dangerous to take too much.

1. Iron Defiency Aneamia

The most common symptoms include:

  • Tiredness and lack of energy (lethargy)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart Palpitations
  • A Pale Complexion

Less common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Tinnitus
  • An altered sense of Taste
  • Feeling Itchy
  • A Sore or abnormally smooth tongue
  • Hair loss
  • A desire to eat non-food items, such as ice, paper or clay (pica)
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Painful open sores (ulcers) on the corners of your mouth
  • Spoon-shaped nails

Treatment for iron deficiency anaemia involves taking Iron supplements to boost the low levels of Iron in your body. This is usually effective, and the condition rarely causes long-term problems.

You’ll need to be monitored every few months to check the treatment is working and your iron levels have returned to normal.

The underlying cause will need to be treated so you don’t get anaemia again. Increasing the amount of iron in your diet may also be recommended.

Good sources of iron include:

  • Dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale
  • Iron-fortified cereals or bread
  • Brown rice
  • Pulses and beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Meat, fish and tofu
  • Eggs
  • Dried fruit, such as dried apricots, prunes and raisins

2. Vitamin B12 Defiency / Pernicious Aneamia

The most common symptoms include:

  • Struggling to think clearly
  • Irritability, Impatience and Mood Swings
  • Unusual Tiredness and Exhaustion
  • Waking-up Tired
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Swollen Tongue
  • Feeling Bloated or Full
  • Pale Yellow-Tinged Skin
  • Brittle, Easily Damaged Nails.
  • Pins and Needles

Less common symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Inability to cope with everyday tasks
  • A desire to eat non food items, in particular Ice.
  • Unusual Gait
  • Unsteadiness
  • Burning feet/legs

Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency is usually treated with injections of vitamin B12, in a form called hydroxocobalamin.

At first, you’ll have these injections every other day for two weeks, or until your symptoms have stopped improving. Your GP or nurse will give the injections.

After this initial period, your treatment will depend on whether the cause of your vitamin B12 deficiency is related to your diet. The most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK is pernicious anaemia, which isn’t related to your diet.

If it IS related to a lack of vitamin in your diet, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals. Alternatively, you may need to have an injection of hydroxocobalamin twice a year.

People who find it difficult to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets, such as those following a vegan diet, may need vitamin B12 tablets for life.

Although it’s less common, people with vitamin B12 deficiency caused by a prolonged poor diet may be advised to stop taking the tablets once their vitamin B12 levels have returned to normal and their diet has improved.

Good sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • meat
  • salmon and cod
  • milk and other dairy products
  • eggs
  • yeast extract (including Marmite)
  • Some fortified breakfast cereals
  • Some soy products.

Check the nutrition labels while food shopping to see how much vitamin B12 different foods contain.1

Unfortunately, the blood tests for Vitamin B12 defiency are not very reliable and unless you’re results are extremely low – it may not be picked up by your GP, they may even refuse to do the test! If you feel that this is the case, and you have symptoms of B12 Defiency, get some good quality Vitamin B12 Tablets and monitor your symptoms. (Click here for a PDF of my simple B12 symptoms tracker) It is IMPOSSIBLE to overdose on B12 and you will soon be able to tell if it’s making a difference or not. There are 2 versions that you get in tablet form and Methylcobalamin is must better absorbed than the alternatives. These are the B12 Supplements that my whole family use.

  1. Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia – Treatment – NHS.UK, Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia,


  1. Sharon Reply

    Hi Jo,
    This is a very informative article. The title itself caught my attention to read this. Not that I am craving ice. It was my teenage daughter. She is not at her healthiest and somehow I just feel that she lacks certain vitamins. icy cold drinks and ice cream are what she crazed for every day. And often lethargic.
    It is very helpful that you have included the food source. I shall get her to increase intake of the food mentioned.
    Thank you.

  • admin Reply

    Hi Sharon and thanks for the comment. I’m glad my post could be of help – sometimes we just don’t realise we are deficient and these “Symptoms” just become part of who we are. Well done on looking out for your daughter, and good luck with the healthy food – it’s not easy with teenagers! 

  • Barb Reply

    Thank you so much for this very informative article. I had no idea that craving ice meant the one might have an iron or B12 deficiency. I have an elderly friend who will only ever drink iced drinks an nothing else. It makes wonder after reading your article if she indeed is B12 deficient or anemic. Do you think if she just started supplementing with iron or B12 pills be enough to remedy the problem?

    • admin Reply

      I think it’s definitely worth getting tested as it’s very common in the elderly, our B12 stores naturally run down as we get older. If getting tested isn’t possible, I would without doubt start her on B12 1000mg tablets and Multivitamins with Iron if she isn’t already taking any. For more information see

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