Mrs. S. was a 79-year-old mother of four children, twenty grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She had just returned to her home after a two week hospital stay due to congestive heart failure. I was called there by the family due to her overall, poor, nutritional state.

The patient had lost a considerable amount of weight prior to and during hospitalization. Upon questioning her, she related that she was unable to taste or smell her food. She had voiced this concern even during her hospitalization, although no one had paid her any attention.

The loss of taste and smell can be attributed to many neurological and physiological conditions. However, a very common cause of this annoying symptom is due to a deficiency of zinc. The sense of taste and smell will be regained in a short period of time after taking this mineral.

Although zinc is required in trace amounts, it is essential for life and the normal functioning of the body. It is used in the production of sex and growth hormones and is needed to activate multiple chemical reactions throughout the body.

Zinc has been shown to keep the oxygen-carrying red blood cells healthy as well as to stimulate the production of white cells which help to protect the body from invading germs.

Preventing osteoporosis (demineralization of bones) is dependent not only on a sufficient amount of calcium and vitamin D but also upon an adequate supply of this precious metal. Zinc enhances the absorption of calcium from the intestines. During pregnancy, zinc is necessary to ensure strong bones and normal growth of the fetus.

Since the drinking of alcohol causes a deficiency of zinc, pregnant women should be warned about the use of this beverage. Remember, one can of beer is equivalent to one shot of booze. Even postpartum blues have been associated with zinc deficiency. Also, severe menstrual cramps often can be alleviated with a combination of zinc and vitamin B6.

The average adult needs approximately 25 mgs of zinc daily, but since only one third is absorbed, a person may have to take three times this amount. Excellent sources of this mineral are pumpkin seeds, organ meats, eggs, seafood, mushrooms, soybeans and nuts.

Mrs. S. was given a supplement of zinc, multivitamins and vitamin B6. Within four weeks, she could smell, taste and do the electric slide at her birthday party!

Finally, I would also suggest that you make an appointment with your ear, nose and throat doctor to further investigate the loss of smell.