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Zinc deficiency

Zinc is an important trace mineral that is found in almost every cell of the human body. It plays many crucial roles in our daily lives. Zinc plays an important role in the growth-height, weight, and bone development in infants, children and teenagers. Zinc helps in building healthy immune system by playing a crucial role in the development of the white blood cells called T-lymphocytes. Increased levels of zinc in the human body have proven effective in fighting pneumonia, diarrhea and infection. Zinc can also reduce the duration and severity of a common cold.

Causes of Zinc Deficiency

  • Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption.
  • Medications like ace inhibitors (blood pressure medications), diuretics and antacids.
  • Diets high in carbohydrates.
  • Ingredients in the food colorings yellow, green, orange and the food additive tartrazine can deplete the bodies zinc reserve.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of the senses like taste and smell, white spots on the fingernails, acne, delayed sexual maturation, growth impairment, hair loss, high cholesterol levels, impaired night vision, impotence, increased susceptibility to infection, infertility, memory impairment, prostate trouble, recurrent colds, and flu, skin lesions and slow wound healing.

Zinc supplements

Several forms of zinc exist and are known as zinc amino acid chelate, zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc chloride. Zinc supplements come in the form of tablets, liquid, capsules and lozenges. One of the most effective and absorbable zinc supplements is zinc chelate. Research indicates that zinc absorption can be improved if the supplement is taken as lozenge and dissolved in mouth. Zinc is generally not combined with iron supplements, which is usually given during pregnancy. Follow the dose prescribed by your doctor, as overdose can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lower the level of HDL cholesterol and also lead to poor immune system function.

Doctors opine that acne and Rosacea are linked to zinc deficiency. Zinc Glucanote and Zinc oxide are the two widely used zinc supplements to treat acne. Zinc plays an important role in the growth of children. Adding zinc supplements to a growing child reduces the incidence and severity of childhood infections. Research also indicates that zinc supplement can reduce child mortality especially in the below poverty areas.

Natural zinc supplements

The foods we consume are the best sources of zinc. Foods that contain zinc include red meat, fish, oysters, whole cereals, cheese, nuts, chicken, beef, wheat germ, bran, eggs, bread, sugars and preserves, canned vegetables, green vegetables, potatoes, fresh fruits and pumpkin seeds.


Zinc plays a vital role in normal growth, strong immunity and wound healing. Zinc is not stored in the body. Hypozincemia is a result of insufficient zinc for metabolic needs of the body. Typical symptoms of zinc deficiency are white bands on fingernails, acne and skin lesions. Red meat, poultry, oysters, seafood, nuts, beans, soy foods, dairy products, whole grains and fortified breakfast cereals contain zinc.


Dysgeusia refers to a distortion in the sense of taste that leaves a persistent foul, metallic taste in the mouth. The taste could even be described as bitter and rancid that stays on and disturbs the desire to eat.

Dysgeusia, if sustained, can have an impact on the quality of life of patients. It can lead to problems like loss of appetite, malnutrition and depression. Dysgeusia can occur at any age. However, taste disturbances are common among the elderly taking multiple medications. Our taste buds are found on the tongue and on the roof of the mouth. They contain cells that collect taste information and send it to the brain. The sense of taste is closely associated with the sense of smell. Some people with Dysgeusia also have an altered sense of smell that affects sense of taste. This is because most of the taste sensations are controlled by nerve cells involved with smell.

Dysgeusia could be caused by several conditions ranging from simple cold and dental problems to serious ones like cancer treatment that alters an individual's sense of taste. Some of the causes are listed below.

  • Deficiency of zinc or vitamins in the body
  • Problem related to the brain or entire nervous system
  • Chemotherapy treatment
  • Excessive smoking
  • Brain tumor
  • Cold, ear infections and dental related problems like gingivitis, tooth abscess
  • Certain medications
  • Copper, lead or mercury poisoning
  • Gastric reflux
  • Jaundice

Diagnosis of Dysgeusia

Dysgeusia is most often diagnosed during a clinical examination. The physician will make note of the history of the patient and will also enquire about the present medical condition that may be causing taste distortion. He may order few blood tests to assess zinc and other vitamin deficiencies that might be causing metallic taste. There are certain 'taste tests' to identify the sense of taste and smell. Taste tests allow the patient to respond to different concentrations of a substance. Sometimes a chemical that releases sour, sweet, bitter and salty taste is directly applied on the tongue that helps in determining if Dysgeusia is present or not.

If the Dysgeusia is related to neurological condition that has damaged the nerves of mouth or head, CT scan and other imaging tests are performed to assess the extent of damage.

Treatment of Dysgeusia

Many a times, Dysgeusia is reversible. Treatment for the condition depends upon the underlying disease that is causing the metallic taste. Dysgeusia disappears on its own if it is caused by minor problems like cold and dental infections. However, Dysgeusia may almost become untreatable, if it is caused by nerve damage.

If, certain medication is causing the bitter taste in the mouth, the doctor may alter the dosage or prescribe alternate medicine to provide relief. Recent studies show that artificial saliva and mouth wash containing pilocarpine gives much needed relief in cases of medicine-induced Dysgeusia.

Some simple remedies to improve the saliva flow in the mouth also go a long way in treating taste distortion. Chewing on breath mints, sugarless gum, or lozenges will encourage saliva and remove the bitter taste in the mouth.

Most patients suffer from Dysgeusia due to zinc deficiency. Such patients are treated with zinc supplementation.

Few natural remedies like rinsing the mouth with salt solution, brushing twice or thrice a day, consuming citrus fruits, adding more seasoning and spice to the food, and drinking more water are simple measures that help in treating Dysgeusia.

Tags: #Zinc deficiency #Zinc #Dysgeusia
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: May 25, 2024