Are you losing taste buds?

Are you taking blood pressure medicine and feeling that you don’t enjoy food as much as you used to? You may also have heard that cancer patient can suffer from having a taste disorder or dysgeusia.  The reason they are losing their sense of taste is because they don’t have enough Zinc in their system.  Not only those who take medications for high blood pressure and cancer treatment, but also people who eat instant food, processed food, and unhealthy snacks regularly, are having taste disorder.

Over-taking zinc can be toxic but a deficiency can cause not only a lack of taste or smell but also loss of appetite, poor growth, weight loss, poor wound healing, skin problems (such as acne, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis), hair loss, lack of menstrual period, night blindness, white spots on the fingernails, and depression. For babies and children, zinc deficiency is a serious problem.

So, what does zinc do in your body?

Zinc plays a key role in the synthesis and stabilization of genetic material. It is necessary for cell division and the synthesis and degradation of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, and is therefore essential for the growth and repair of tissue. Zinc helps to protect cells and other compounds against the effects of free radicals. It is vital for the formation of connective tissue, teeth, bone, nails, hair and skin. Zinc may play a role in calcium uptake in bone and modulate the effects of growth hormones. Zinc is considered one of the most important nutrients for the immune system as it is necessary for healthy antibody, white blood cell, thymus gland and hormone function. It is therefore vital in maintaining resistance to infection and in wound-healing. And there are more!


The recommended Zinc intake amount is:






0–6 months

2 mg*

2 mg*

7–12 months

3 mg

3 mg

1–3 years

3 mg

3 mg

4–8 years

5 mg

5 mg

9–13 years

8 mg

8 mg

14–18 years

11 mg

9 mg

12 mg

13 mg

19+ years

11 mg

8 mg

11 mg

12 mg

* Adequate Intake (AI)

Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.


On average, absorption of zinc from food is around 20 to 40 %. Taking in zinc from animal and fish sources makes it more soluble than vegetable sources because these foods contain compounds such as phytates and oxalates which binds zinc and reduces the amount available for absorption.

Regarding the food source of zinc, Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food.  The  other sources of zinc include beef, lamb, pork, crabmeat, turkey, chicken, lobster, clams and salmon.

If you are a vegetarian, you will most probably intake less zinc that those who have meat-based diets. Good food sources of zinc, aside from meats, are dairy products such as milk and cheese, yeast, peanuts, beans, and wholegrain cereals, brown rice, whole wheat bread, potato and yogurt. Of all these vegetarian zinc foods, pumpkin seeds offer one of the most concentrated non-meat food sources of zinc.

Foods With Zinc Unit Serving Size Content
Oysters mg 6 medium 76.7
Pumpkin Seeds dried (Pepitas) mg 1 Cup 10.3
Beef shanks, cooked mg 3 ounces 8.9
Crab, Alaska king, cooked mg 3 ounces 6.5
Pork shoulder, cooked mg 3 ounces 4.2
Breakfast cereal fortified with 25% of the DV for zinc mg ¾ cup serving 3.8
Calms mg 1 cup (227g) 3.1
Chicken leg, roasted mg 1 leg 2.7
Pork tenderloin, cooked mg 3 ounces 2.5
Lobster, cooked mg 3 ounces 2.5
Baked beans, canned mg ½ cup 1.7
Cashews, dry roasted mg 1 ounce 1.6
Yogurt, fruit, low fat mg 1 cup 1.6
Raisin bran mg ¾ cup 1.3
Chickpeas mg ½ cup 1.3
Cheese, Swiss mg 1 ounce 1.1
Almonds, dry roasted mg 1 ounce 1.0
Milk mg 1 cup 0.9
Chicken breast, roasted, ½ breast with skin removed mg ½ breast with skin removed 0.9
Cheese, cheddar or mozzarella mg 1 ounce 0.9
Kidney beans, cooked mg ½ cup 0.8
Peas, boiled mg ½ cup 0.8
Oatmeal, instant mg 1 packet 0.8
Flounder or sole, cooked mg 3 ounces 0.5

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 14. []

Zinc’s absorption increases if you eat these food with Vitamin C and /or citric acid. That’s why you eat oyster with lemon!

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