With food cravings, check for iron, zinc deficiency


In the past four years, I have had two children. During both pregnancies, I craved mint sweets. I could not get enough of them, and in the final months more or less ate nothing else, as I couldn't face anything but the mints. My second son is now 8 months old. I am not pregnant again, but my mint cravings are back with a vengeance.

Within a couple of weeks after giving birth both times, the thought of eating mints made me want to vomit. Why do I crave mint, pregnant or not? I have never had any other cravings.

We urge you to see your physician to have your iron and zinc levels tested. Deficiencies in these nutrients might trigger urges to eat nonfood substances like ice chips, laundry starch or clay.

Even though mints are food, your unusual craving might signal that you are lacking one of these minerals. Correcting the deficiency might vanquish the craving.

My husband has been taking Prilosec OTC for heartburn. Lately, he has not been able to find it on the shelves. The last pharmacy he went to told him that it's so popular that you now need a prescription for it. Huh? Why would you need a prescription for an over-the-counter drug?

Prilosec was once the most successful prescription heartburn medicine in the world. When the drug lost patent protection, it became available over the counter.

We checked with Procter & Gamble, and the manufacturer told us that demand has outstripped expectations. This explains why Prilosec OTC has been hard to find. The company anticipates adequate supplies by January.

If your husband can't wait that long, he probably could get this acid suppressor by prescription. It is sold by the brand name Prilosec or the generic omeprazole.

Schools use liquid soap to kill germs. Do these antibacterial soaps kill cold viruses?

No. But washing thoroughly with soap and water can rinse off viruses and reduce the likelihood of catching colds.

I have relatives who make milkshakes for my 5-year-old granddaughter. They always put a raw egg in the milkshake. They seem to think the uncooked egg is better for the child. I believe I have read that all eggs should be cooked before eating. Is this true? What is the danger of eating or drinking uncooked eggs?

Raw eggs can be contaminated with salmonella. Such bacteria can cause food poisoning that can lead to serious illness. Any food that contains uncooked eggs, such as homemade cookie dough, cake batter or eggnog, can pose a hazard. Pasteurized egg products can be purchased in the refrigerated dairy case. They would be far safer.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site: www.peoples pharmacy.org.

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