Chocolate cravings are the most common of food cravings, although the lure of chocolate beckons women more often than men. According to a study by Ohio State University in 2003, chocolate cravings aren’t entirely understood. Food cravings in general can be a sign of some deficiency and this is true of chocolate as well, however, cravings can also be a result of habit, addiction, hormonal imbalance and emotional triggers.
Chocolate is high in fat and sugar, which are known to be addictive. One reason for craving chocolate could be that your body needs the sugar fix and because you like the taste of chocolate, that’s what you reach for. In addition, sugar and fat activates the release of endorphins, as well as serotonin and galanin: mood-lifting hormones that deliver a feeling of satiety. The compounds in chocolate, particularly tryptophan, causes the release of serotonin.
It’s normal to have cravings and eating chocolate is, in itself, not harmful. However, since chocolate contains large amounts of fat and sugar, it can create a real problem for those trying to lose weight or keep from gaining weight in the first place. Studies show that maintaining a healthy diet rich in magnesium and foods that increase the production of serotonin can help suppress chocolate cravings. Below are 5 supplements that may help suppress chocolate cravings.
Unusually strong cravings for chocolate could indicate a need for magnesium. Magnesium plays a crucial role in building strong bones, regulating heartbeat and assisting in the manufacture of amino acids in your body. The best way to get magnesium in your diet is to eat magnesium-rich foods such as salad greens, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. If you want to take a magnesium supplement, how much should you take? A safe amount is between 300 to 500 milligrams daily. If you’re already taking a multi-vitamin, check the dosage of magnesium included. Taking an excess of magnesium can cause diarrhea, and be aware that magnesium can be toxic and cause low blood pressure and possibly cardiac arrest.
Calcium intake can regulate levels of serotonin. Your body needs calcium for muscle contraction and for expansion and contraction of blood vessels, as well as for regulating hormones and enzymes. Most of the body’s calcium—99%–is stored in the bones and teeth. The recommended daily allowance for calcium in women between the ages of 18 to 50 is approximately 1000 mg.
Zinc is an essential mineral and is important to the production of serotonin. Recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc for women (not pregnant or lactating) over the age of 19 is 11 milligrams. Foods rich in zinc are oysters, beef, crab and supplemented breakfast cereal.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is important for the production of serotonin. The RDA of vitamin C for women is around 90 milligrams, and many doctors recommend getting your daily allowance from food. A serving of strawberries or an orange can provide 80% of your daily recommendation.
Supplementing your diet with essential B-vitamins can have an immediate effect on the production of serotonin. Taking a complex B-vitamin supplement can help reduce chocolate cravings. If you’re taking a multi-vitamin already, chances are you’re getting the RDA of B-vitamins. The best way to increase your intake is by eating a healthy balanced diet. Foods rich in B-vitamins are turkey, oats, bananas, avocados and legumes.