Zinc holds the center position in healthy RNA and DNA. If zinc is deficient, optimal health can not be achieved. Everyone is vulnerable, especially children through adolescence. Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in the human body and is found in every bodily tissue and tissue fluid. Biochemical functions in which zinc plays an integral role include enzyme function, protein synthesis, nucleic acid metabolism, the immune system, brain function and development and adrenal function.*
Zinc’s Role in Smell and Taste
Chronic or acute zinc deficiency may be linked with lowered or absent ability to adequately taste or smell. Many studies have shown improvement in the ability to taste and smell following zinc administration.* Zinc absorption can be inhibited due to a flattening of the villi in the small intestine when zinc is deficient.*
Zinc plays many important roles in the body.
1) Zinc plays a key role in maintaining a healthy attitude and mood.* In animal studies, zinc deficiency produced significant behavorial changes such as aggression. In human studies, zinc deficiency created anxiety and mood disturbances.*
2) Zinc is also a key factor in appetite regulation and in maintaining normal weight.*
3) Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system.* Since zinc plays an important role at adrenal hormone receptor sites, lowered zinc levels can mean poorer adrenal function and lowered ability to respond to stress.*
To determine zinc deficiency, a simple taste test (reported in the medical journal, Lancet) helps designate those who may respond favorably to zinc supplementation.
The TEST: The subject should refrain from eating, drinking or smoking for at least one hour before the test, then is asked to place about 1 tsp. of zinc sulfate septahydrate in the mouth for 10 seconds, then swallow. After 30 seconds, the responses will fall into 4 categories:
1) tasteless or “like water”
2) slowly developing dry, mineral-like taste, “furry” or sweet
3) immediate unpleasant taste which intensifies over time
4) strong immediate unpleasant taste (may last up to 30 minutes). Category 1 or 2 suggests the subject will benefit from zinc supplementation.
Zinc and other nutrients are most commonly transported into the blood via the villi of the small intestine; however, with the flattening of the villi, it becomes necessary to give zinc-deficient individuals a form of zinc that can be better absorbed. Zinc Assay, a form of liquid zinc sulfate septahydrate, helps overcome this problem, since it can be efficiently absorbed through the lining of the stomach. Other forms of zinc may be very difficult to absorb in compromised individuals.