Vitamins and Taste
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009

Bitter                     Salty                    Sour                     Sweet

Vitamins play an essential role in our general well-being, and a simple lack of them can cause untold problems. A great example of this was highlighted in the Chicago Tribune yesterday, relating to one of the bodily senses, taste. The cumulative effects of vitamin deficiency can contribute to a loss of the ability to taste food. The article focusing on some of the key vitamins relating to taste:

  • Folic acid (or folate)—abundant in legumes and vegetables and green leafy "foliage"—helps in the formation of new cells within the body. Interestingly, a deficiency of this vitamin can show up as a smooth, red tongue and resulting loss of taste sensation. Blood tests can detect if a deficiency of this vitamin exists.
  • Vitamin B-12—a vitamin found almost exclusively in foods of animal origin (meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk)—is closely related to folic acid. So a deficiency of one is often linked to a deficiency of the other. A deficiency of vitamin B-12 may affect the nerves that carry taste sensations to the brain. Note: Microwave cooking destroys vitamin B-12. Best to cook meat and other B-12 containing foods by another method.
  • Thiamin—a B-vitamin found primarily in whole grain or enriched grain products—occupies a special site on nerve cells. A deficiency of thiamin can therefore interfere with normal taste sensations.
  • Zinc—a trace mineral found in high amounts in oysters, beef and crab—supports several processes in the body, including the perception of taste. A deficiency of zinc can cause changes in taste and appetite.

If you are having any difficulty with your taste sensations, investigating your daily nutrients is a good place to start searching for answers. Simple alterations can help you back on your way to appriciating the full spectrum of life: Open wide and have a taste!

DSIB: Folic Acid
DSIB: B-12
DSIB: Thiamin
DSIB: Zinc
Chicago Tribune: Vitamin deficiencies lead to loss of taste


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