Zinc sulfate taste acuity reflects dietary zinc intake in males

Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2016 Feb:11:e21-e25. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2015.11.004. Epub 2016 Jan 14.


Gauging an individual's response after they taste a solution of zinc sulfate has been proposed as a method of determining nutritional zinc deficiency, a so-called "zinc taste test." Despite the lack of evidence regarding any relationship between dietary zinc intake and zinc sulfate taste acuity, clinicians continue to utilize zinc sulfate taste testing with their patients. Therefore, assessing the relationship between zinc sulfate taste acuity and dietary zinc intake is warranted. This report assessed 363 individuals (77 males, 286 females) for zinc sulfate taste acuity and dietary zinc intake. Zinc sulfate taste acuity was assessed by both the Bryce-Smith & Simpson zinc taste test (BSZTT) and the taste intensity visual analog scale (TIVAS). Dietary intake of zinc was assessed by a zinc-specific food frequency questionnaire (ZnFFQ). Zinc sulfate taste acuity, as measured by the TIVAS, was found to be significantly different between the sexes (U = 8766; p = 0.013). Males averaged a TIVAS score of 21.58 ± 2.52 (Mean ± SEM) whereas females had a TIVAS score averaging 31.49 ± 1.67. No correlations were found between female zinc sulfate taste perception and dietary zinc intake as measured by both the BSZTT (rs = 0.014; p = 0.816) and the TIVAS (rs = 0.025; p = 0.679). Similarly, male zinc intake was not correlated with BSZTT scores (rs = 0.199; p = 0.099). However, zinc sulfate taste acuity, measured by the TIVAS, was significantly correlated with dietary zinc intake in the male population (rs = 0.237; p = 0.048). These findings suggest that zinc sulfate taste acuity measurement may aid in the assessment of zinc nutriture among males.

Keywords: Nutrition assessment; Nutritional deficiency; Taste; Taste perception; Zinc deficiency; Zinc taste test.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Astringents / metabolism*
  • Deficiency Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Deficiency Diseases / etiology
  • Deficiency Diseases / metabolism
  • Deficiency Diseases / physiopathology
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Report
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Students
  • Taste Perception*
  • Universities
  • West Virginia
  • Young Adult
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / deficiency*
  • Zinc Sulfate / metabolism*


  • Astringents
  • Zinc Sulfate
  • Zinc