zinc challenge test

The Zinc Challenge Test: A Primer on Zinc

According to some estimates, there are literally hundreds of zinc containing enzymes in the plant and animal kingdoms.

Zinc is a trace element that has a remarkable ubiquity in terms of its presence and importance in our body’s various metabolic functions.

Signs of zinc deficiency

Growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function characterize Zinc deficiency .

In more severe cases, zinc deficiency causes hair loss, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hypogonadism in males. It also leads to eye and skin lesions, weight loss, delayed healing of wounds. Taste abnormalities, and mental lethargy can also occur.

According to an article in the Journal of Nutrition, severe zinc deficiency states affect clinically numerous organ systems including the epidermal, gastrointestinal, central nervous, immune, skeletal and reproductive systems (Hambidge and Walravens 1982 ). In view of our knowledge about the biology of zinc, it is likely that zinc-dependent metabolic functions suffer in all tissues.”

When zinc deficiency occurs, it is usually due to inadequate zinc intake or absorption. Increased losses of zinc from the body, or increased requirements for zinc are likely causes as well.

Some individuals may be at higher risk of zinc deficiency. Case in point being people who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, as well as those who drink high amounts of alcohol. Vegetarians and pregnant and/or lactating females are likely to suffer from low zinc too.

There are 5 reasons why zinc deficiency will affect your gains in the gym as detailed in this article.

Common food sources

A wide variety of foods contain zinc.

Did you know that oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food (considering zinc’s role in reproductive health, you can see why oysters are, in some circles, a famous aphrodisiac).

Red meat and poultry however, provide the majority of zinc in the American diet. Other good food sources include beans, nuts, certain types of seafood (such as crab and lobster), and organic dairy products.

Test for zinc deficiency

A quick and easy way to check for zinc deficiency is the zinc challenge test, using a liquid form of zinc. As the sense of taste is often one of the first signs of zinc deficiency, this particular test is a great way to access zinc status without complications of urine or blood testing.

To perform the test, put a few tablespoons of zinc status liquid into a cup. Ask the patient to drink from the cup and to hold it in his/her mouth until a definite taste develops, and then spit it out (upset stomach can occur from swallowing due to the sulfur in some products).

This should take thirty seconds and responses are classified as follows:

  1. No specific taste or other sensation.
  2. No immediate taste is noticed, but after a few seconds a slight taste variously described as “dry,” “mineral,” “furry,” or “sweet,” develops.
  3. A definite, though not strongly unpleasant, taste is noticed almost immediately and tends to intensify over time.
  4. A strong and unpleasant taste is noted almost immediately.

What do these results tell us?

1 and 2 suggest severe zinc deficiency.
3 indicates a slightly low zinc level.
4 is ideal and indicates adequate zinc status.

Note:Those who have eating disorders will invariably score low on this test.

Charles R Poliquin