General Question

SeaTurtle's avatar

Why would a pregnant woman have a craving to eat coal?

Asked by SeaTurtle (1179 points ) May 13th, 2011

I know of two women who had this craving and sucked on a chunk of coal.
I want to know the science behind this, I’m guessing carbon deficiency or toxin build up or something but Ive never heard of carbon supplements being recommended for health.

I had a look and the ingredients of coal are aolinite, pyrite, marcasite, quartz, chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite, and the element carbon. Out of these I only know of carbon.
Anybody have more info on this health issue?

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15 Answers

trickface's avatar

We can’t metabolise Coal as food, that is, use it for energy. It has a lot of carbon obviously but we need our carbon in glucose, which is in bread, sugars, fruits and milks. I read there’s something like a coal pill for a certain medical condition, but it’s pretty rare.

Just another irrational pregnancy craving like coins or rubber.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Pica, the craving and/or eating of non-food items, is sometimes attributed to iron deficiency anemia. It isn’t necessarily that the person obtains the necessary nutrients from the stuff they are eating, it just causes the bizarre cravings. Other common cravings are for ice chewing and paper. I don’t know that this is the definite answer to the pregnancy and coal connection, but it might apply.

SeaTurtle's avatar

Thank you guys, I myself couldn’t find any beneficial nutrients in coal, so its likely an irrational craving due so some other deficiency.

flutherother's avatar

Here’s what the BBC said about it a few years ago. It could be the texture and the smell rather than the taste.

SeaTurtle's avatar

@flutherother , good find thank you.

snowberry's avatar

Yep, I’d say she needs help.

SeaTurtle's avatar

yea thanks @snowberry , very informative.
Wish we could negative vote.

cookieman's avatar

Is her last name Webber by any chance.

laureth's avatar

Do you mean coal (the fossil fuel) or charcoal (burnt wood)? There are charcoal supplements, which I have taken on occasion to ahem clean out the system. In other words, I can understand why people (not just pregnant people) would want charcoal, but I do not understand why anyone would suck on fossil coal.

Some pregnant women do crave clay, though, so maybe that is similar?

krrazypassions's avatar

Maybe those women actually want to eat spicy barbecued food… mmm.. or maybe simply barbecued without any seasoning. (because that’s edible and has a flavor of the coal too)

roma0104's avatar

I have heard of women wanting to eat soil when pregnant as well. Although I cannot remember where I heard this. In any case it is just hormones being kind of wacky and causing weird cravings.

Bagardbilla's avatar

I believe we humans are not all that different from most animals. Their instincts are quite sharp and accurate, this can be seen on how a house cat might eat certain types of grass to help either coughup hairballs or to digest food. Or Amazonian parrots which will travel for hundred of miles to eat certain clays rich in rare minirals… When pregnant, womens senses are hightened and they are much more in tune with their bodies then perhaps any other time in their lives. I believe their cravings are driven by their bodies need for trace minirals and vitamins needed for the fetus’ development at various stages.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

It has nothing to do with being pregnant and having “weird pregnancy cravings”.

A person generally craves a “non-food” because something is missing in their diet. For quite a while, my grandmother was wanting to eat dirt. She was in her 60’s and far from being pregnant. Her doctor put her on iron pills and told her to crunch ice chips until the cravings went away.

claire13's avatar

hi all im a 28 year old 32 week pregnant lady (this is my 3rd pregnancy) i am one of the people that just can not seem to quench my desire to eat coal (the fossil fuel) ive ate approximately 30 pieces in the last few weeks i had the same craving with my other son who is just about to turn 8,with my daughter it was sandstone.
i am a vegetarian also any ideas why im doing this?

snowberry's avatar

I’d say that you are low in some nutrient. The problem is that you’re filling that need with something that is full of toxins, and can/probably will affect your baby in some way. You need to find out what that is. You also need to be taking all your prenatal vitamins, and probably a supplement of whatever the missing nutrient is.

As for exactly what the nutrient(s) are, explain the problem to and ask your doctor.

Iron might be a good guess (see the above answer).

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