Dietary zinc intake and sex differences in taste acuity in healthy young adults

Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health,University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK.
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Impact Factor: 1.99). 05/2007; 20(2):103-10. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2007.00756.x
Source: PubMed


Previous research suggests that adequate dietary zinc intake may be important in determining the sensory experience of food, appetite and consequently, dietary quality. The aim of this pilot study was to explore relationships between taste sensitivity and dietary zinc intake in healthy young adults (age 20-40 years: 24 male, mean age +/- SD = 27 +/- 4.86 years; 26 female, mean age +/- SD = 23 +/- 2.10).
A signal detection method was used to assess taste acuity for the four basic tastes: sweet (glucose), sour (citric acid), salt (sodium chloride) and bitter (quinine). A 4-day food diary was used to determine dietary intakes of zinc (mg day(-1)) and salt.
Males reported a higher zinc intake than females (P=0.001). Higher dietary zinc intake was associated with better taste acuity for salt in females (P=0.017) but not in males. Acuity for bitter taste appeared to be related to zinc intake in males (P=0.007) but not females. Among those whose average daily zinc intake was below the RNI, males were less sensitive than females to sour (P=0.02) and bitter (P=0.014) taste.
These findings suggest that zinc is more important for taste acuity in males than females and indicate the importance of taking sex differences into account when studying taste acuity.

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Available from: Barbara Stewart-Knox, Aug 20, 2015
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    • "Zinc deficiency can lead to a worsening of the sense of taste [13], which can, in turn, damage the taste acuity [14]. It is known that salt taste perception and salty taste preference are influenced by the zinc nutritional status; this not only influences sodium intake, but is also related to blood pressure [15-20]. Previous research conducted outside of Korea has shown that the consumption of zinc in food and via supplements can increase taste acuity [21]. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined salty taste acuity and salty taste preference and sodium intake in relation to zinc nutritional status in 2 rural populations in Korea. And we also examined the main food contributors of their sodium intakes. We enrolled 218 adults (66 men and 152 women) from the Kangneung and Samcheok regions in Korea's Kangwon province in our study conducted from December 2011 to February 2012. Participants from each region were divided into 3 groups based on their serum zinc level (T1: lowest, T2: intermediate, T3: highest). We compared the salty taste acuity and preference, Na index (Dish Frequency Questionnaire for estimation of habitual sodium intake), blood pressure, and intakes of nutrients including sodium by 3 groups of serum zinc level. The results were as follows: a higher serum zinc level indicated a lower sodium intake and Na index (P < 0.05). The salty taste acuity was considerably higher for participants from the Kangneung region than those from the Samcheok region (P < 0.05). And the serum zinc level was significantly higher in participants from the Kangneung region than those from the Samcheok region (P < 0.05). We further divided the participants into 2 groups: those who consumed more zinc than the recommended intake (RI) and the others. We compared salty taste acuity and salty taste preference in the 2 groups. The salty taste threshold and palatable salty taste concentrations were lower for the group with a zinc intake above RI than for the group with zinc intake below the RI. However, the difference was not significant. This study confirms that taste function differs depending on zinc nutritional status. In future, it is required to a large-scale, long-term, prospective study on the correlation between zinc intake, serum zinc levels, and taste perception function and blood pressure.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Nutrition research and practice
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    • "Salt taste acuity was associated (at the 10% level) with component 1 'High salt and saturated fat' intake. This supports previous evidence, which suggests deficiencies in certain nutrients, (which load onto this component) such as zinc (McDaid et al., 2007; Stewart-Knox et al., 2008), iron (Osaki, Ohshima, Tomita, Matsugi, & Nomara, 1996) and protein (Ohara, Tabuchi, Kimura, & Itokawa, 1995) are associated with reduced salt taste acuity. Our finding that salt acuity is associated with 'High salt and saturated fat' and previous findings that salt taste acuity is associated with lower fruit and vegetable consumption and higher risk of gastric cancer (Yang et al., 2011) suggests that it could be a marker of health. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to identify factors associated with taste acuity in healthy older European adults aged 55-87 years, employing a factorial independent design to recruit older adults from centres in France, Italy and United Kingdom. Adults aged 70-87 years (N=387) were recruited in Rome (Italy) (n=108) and Grenoble (France) (n=91) and aged 55-70 years in Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) (n=93) and Clermont-Ferrand (C-F) (France) (n=95). A signal detection theory (SDT) approach was used for detection threshold assessment of the four basic tastes (salt; sweet; bitter; and, sour). Trial data were converted to R-indices. Diet was assessed by means of four day food diaries. Dietary data were converted using WISP and then reduced, using a principal components analysis, to four components: Component 1 'high fat and salt'; Component 2 'high vitamins and fibre'; Component 3 'high fat and carbohydrate'; and, Component 4 'high trace elements'. Socio-demographic information was collected by self report survey. Four separate regression analyses were carried out, one for each of the four basic taste qualities (sweet; sour; bitter; salt). Mean ROC scores for each taste quality were the response variables and age, sex, country, social class and dietary components were predictor variables. The main predictors of taste acuity were age, sex, social class and country, which had differential effects for each taste quality. These data suggest that socio-demographic and cultural factors should be taken into account when considering taste acuity in older people.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Appetite
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    • "There are some possibilities to improve zinc deficiency by examining eating style factors considering these as- pects. Higher dietary intakes of zinc were associated with better acuity for salt taste specifically in females [17]. Pluhator , and others [16] suggested taste preference will provide to be more reproducibly related to zinc nutrients. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated the relationship between taste sensitivity, the frequency and the preference for eating foods rich in zinc, dietary habits, and restrained eating among Japanese female undergraduate students. Forty-three subjects be-tween the ages of 20 and 22 participated in this study. After a taste-sensitivity test for sweetness and saltiness the stu-dents completed a food list indicating the intake frequency and preference of foods rich in zinc and their eating habits. The students were divided into four groups: high salt-taste sensitivity (SA-HG), low salt-taste sensitivity (SA-LG), high sweet-taste sensitivity (SW-HG), and low sweet-taste sensitivity (SW-LG). Individuals in the SA-HG group ate more foods rich in zinc and were more concerned with their health than those in the SA-LG group. Further, the SW-LG group ate more convenience foods than the SW-HG group. High salt-taste sensitivity could be predicted by eating more but less preference of foods rich in zinc, less snacking, and greater regularity of meals. On the other hand there is a signifi-cant positive relationship between the frequencies of eating and preference for foods rich in zinc. This means the results were inconsistent, further research is needed to clarify this point.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Food and Nutrition Sciences
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