Zinc status and taste acuity in older Europeans: the ZENITH study

B Stewart-Knox, EEA Simpson, H Parr, G Rae, A Polito, F Intorre, N Meunier, M Andriollo-Sanchez, JM O'Connor, C Coudray, JJ Strain

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Age-related decline in taste acuity may be both a cause and an effect of depleted zinc and/or increased zinc requirement. Objective: The aim of this study was to explore associations between zinc status and taste acuity in healthy older European adults aged 55-90 y. Sample: Volunteers were recruited within Italy (n = 108 aged 70-90 y), the United Kingdom (UK) (n = 93 aged 55-70) and two regions of France (n = 186), Grenoble (aged 70-90 y) and Clermont-Ferrand (aged 55-70 y). Methods: A signal detection theory approach was adopted, employing a three-alternative, forced-choice procedure. The data were converted to R-indices and bivariate correlations were computed to explore relationships between serum zinc, erythrocyte zinc and taste acuity. ANOVA was undertaken to determine regional differences in zinc status. Results: Higher erythrocyte zinc status was associated with better acuity for salt (sodium chloride) taste in the sample as a whole (P = 0.012) (n = 385). Higher serum zinc levels were associated with greater sensitivity to sour taste (citric acid) (P = 0.015) only in the older groups (aged 70-90 y). There were no apparent associations between serum or erythrocyte zinc status and acuity for bitter (quinine) or sweet (sucrose) tastes irrespective of age. Conclusion: These results agree with those previously suggesting that age-related detriment in sensitivity for salt taste may be associated with depleted zinc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S31-S36
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue numberSuppl.
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Nov 2005


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