What is a zinc test and why is it important?
It’s important to know your zinc level!
A zinc deficiency can play a role in food cravings, immune function, fertility, and many other health issues. Did you know that your level of zinc can even be related to your sweet tooth?
Read more to find out how knowing your level can help you,
Need to keep your sweet tooth at bay?
There are many reasons why you may be struggling with sweet cravings – a poor relationship with food and sweets, not eating balanced meals, not eating enough throughout the day, unstable blood sugars, etc.
Another cause of strong sweet cravings could be due to low levels of this nutrient in your blood and saliva. Adequate levels of zinc can help improve your taste perception!
Once your level improves, you become more sensitive to sweetness, and need less sugar to achieve the same taste.
Zinc may not be the culprit for strong sweet cravings, but our dietitians can help you discover the root cause of your struggle with sweets. Check out this blog about healing your relationship with food.
What are the health benefits of zinc?
Zinc is an important mineral in the body for many reasons:
- aiding in night vision
- prostate function
- wound healing
- reduction of inflammation
- enhanced immunity
- improved skin
- toned down body odor
- proper growth and development
- is crucial to the body’s ability to utilize over 100 enzymes that help regulate dozens of bodily processes every day.
How much zinc do you need?
Recommended intake levels are provided by the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI’s) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine. Daily recommendations depend on your age, sex and life stage.
- Average, daily intake requirements for adults (aged 19 years and older) is:
9 mg/day for women
11 mg/day for men
- Pregnant woman and children especially need to be aware of sufficient levels.
How best to meet your recommended needs?
You can meet your daily needs with food sources such as seafood, poultry, beef, nuts, seeds, and some fortified cereals.
However, you may need supplements if you are deficient. A deficiency can negatively affect the immune system and cognitive function, cause diarrhea, hair loss, poor appetite, skin disorders, and changes in taste.
How can you test your zinc levels?
Want a simple way to determine if you are deficient? There are products like Zinc Challenge by Designs for Health or Zinc Tally by Metagenics that allows for a simple taste test taste to gauge the level of zinc in the body. The simple taste test reveals your status in a matter of 30 seconds.
How to do a zinc challenge
Want a simple way to determine if you are deficient?
You can purchase a test* online, and find out quickly if your zinc levels are low.
This easy taste test uses a challenge liquid as a gauge of nutrient levels in the body.
The simple taste test reveals your status in a matter of 30 seconds.
- To perform the test, simply put two tablespoons of the challenge liquid into a cup.
- Drink from the cup and hold the solution in your mouth until a taste develops.
- Your taste buds will give you information about your zinc status
- Results in taste will vary giving valuable information regarding your levels in the body.
What do the taste test results mean?
Compare your personal results to your taste test with these descriptions and see which category best describes your results.
- If you do not taste the zinc, you have a deficiency. Or if after a few seconds the solution becomes “dry”, “mineral”, “furry”, or “sweet”; this is an indicator of severe deficiency.
- If you experience a mildly unpleasant taste; this indicates a slightly low level.
- An immediate, strong, metallic taste indicates adequate levels.
What is suggested should you have low levels?
Eating a balanced diet that provides adequate zinc and working with your nutritionist to determine appropriate supplementation. Take a supplement for eight weeks and retest.
Which foods are high in zinc?
Who is at risk of a zinc deficiency?
You are at risk if you have a:
- diet that avoid foods with good sources of zinc
- history of surgery on your intestines
- diabetes or renal disease
- history of anorexia nervosa or malnutrition
You are also at risk if you use any of these prescription medications:
- Female hormones
- ACE inhibitors
Could an eating disorder cause a deficiency?
Yes, nutrient deficiencies are often found with clients with eating disorders. In the study listed below, over 54% of people struggling with anorexia nervosa were deficient in zinc.
Source: Humphries L, Vivian B, Stuart M, McClain CJ. Zinc Deficiency and Eating Disorders. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 1989; 50(12):456-9.
How can I do a zinc challenge?
As indicated above, you can order your own test.
Or our group of dietitians can provide the test for you. Call 301-474-2499 to speak with your Registered Dietitian or email us at [email protected] so you can get zin tested in our office. .
Still not sure how easy it is to take the challenge?
Watch two of our dietitians take the challenge in this video.
Blood testing instead of the oral challenge:
You can also get a blood test to determine your zinc levels. This can be done at your doctors office or at our office. Here is a link about our micronutrient testing.
Ask your Registered Dietitian for more information or fill out our contact form.
-Blog reviewed and updated January 27, 2022
Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients. Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.