For those who are unfamiliar with the zinc tally taste test (and very few of my dear clients will have escaped this test), it simply involves holding some liquid zinc sulphate in the mouth for ten seconds then swallowing and describing the taste. It may range from ʻno specific tasteʼto ʻsweetʼor ʻfurryʼto ʻstrongly metallic and unpleasantʼ. No clues given here for the ʻrightʼanswer. I would hate to influence your response! The taste perception test is an especially valuable functional tool in assessing zinc levels. Zinc is required for our sense of taste and smell and a classic symptom of zinc insufficiency is a loss of taste.
Zinc is intricately involved in maintaining an effective and vigilant immune system and it is indeed critical for the normal functioning of almost all systems of the body. Yet it has been estimated that 75 per cent of Australians and New Zealanders consume insufficient zinc and that a significant proportion of the worldʼs population is at risk of zinc deficiency.
An adequate level of zinc is particularly difficult to maintain. The soils in Australia are fairly low in this vital mineral, dietary fibre inhibits its absorption and other minerals competitively inhibit it. (This is because they share uptake pathways.) Oxidant stress also compromises zinc levels. Those exposed to high levels of oxidant stress include people with inflammatory disorders such as allergies, chronic infections, and inflammatory bowel disease. Asthmatics are also known to have high serum copper levels that correspond to low serum zinc.
Given the plethora of zinc antagonists and the approaching cold and ʼflu season, I hope you will very willingly submit to the zinc tally test next time I offer you a shot of zinc sulphate!