Why Do People Crave Salt When Pregnant?

Satisfying a pregnancy craving is one of the most gratifying of all experiences. During pregnancy, your body is literally growing organs and tissues with the end goal of creating a whole human in a shockingly short amount of time. Given this massive undertaking of human engineering, it may not come as a shock that during this time, your body has increased nutritional needs to support the whole process.

According to Healthline, the human body requires an increased amount of vital nutrients such as calcium, folate, iron, and protein during pregnancy. It is also recommended that the amounts of these building blocks consumed increase with each trimester. Healthy sources of dietary requirements are of course the goal, but hell hath no fury like a pregnant person in search of a donut.

While growing a human, the body's delicate balance of hormones is thrown out of balance, sending your brain all sorts of mixed signals, according to Intermountain Health Care. Some of these mixed signals are interpreted as "pickles and ice cream sound delicious." 

Your cravings might be telling you something

The truth about pregnancy cravings is that they can be caused by circumstances other than hormonal chaos. We know that during pregnancy, nutritional needs change. Sometimes a pregnant person's food craving is the body's way of letting you know that one of those needs is not being met. In an article for HuffPost Australia, nutritionist Fiona Tuck broke down what some of the most common pregnancy cravings could mean.

Salt is something that is almost universally yearned for by pregnant people, and according to Tuck, this could mean that your body is not receiving enough dietary sodium to "help maintain fluid balance, blood pressure and nerve transmission." Making slight adjustments in your diet can be the answer to correcting your body's need for extra sodium, but be careful not to overdo it.

Pregnant people in general are prone to conditions such as edema, which is the swelling of hands, feet, legs, etc. According to What to Expect, excess salt intake can lead to the exacerbation of such conditions.

Overall health is important

Pregnancy is a time to pay special attention to your diet and health overall. John Muir Health explains that many pregnant people are not getting the total nutrition needed to most efficiently support a pregnancy.

Most are deficient in several key vitamins or minerals. Many medical sources, like the Mayo Clinic, recommend a variety of healthy sources of things like folate, protein, fat, and iron that are the ideal building blocks of a healthy pregnancy diet, but in addition to foods that you should be eating, there are also many that you should not be.

Listening to your body and what it's telling you, albeit sometimes in the form of a potato chip craving, is also critically important to your overall health and happiness during this time in your life. Indulging every once in a while is something that is to be expected, but if you are concerned with any symptom you are experiencing — craving-related or otherwise — always consult your medical team first.