Calcium Identified as New Taste

August 21, 2008 05:31 PM
by Isabel Cowles
Researchers have discovered that calcium has a detectable, bitter flavor, and the tongue may have dedicated receptors to detect it.

‘Calcium tastes calcium-y’

The ability to taste calcium has recently been detected in mice, prompting scientists to believe that the flavor of calcium may be detectable by the human palate as well.

“Calcium tastes calcium-y,” said researcher Michael Tordoff, a behavioral geneticist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. “There isn’t a better word for it. It is bitter, perhaps even a little sour. But it’s much more because there are actual receptors for calcium, not just bitter or sour compounds.”

The average adult should consume 1,000 mg of calcium a day, WebMD asserts. According to the site, “most adults in the U.S. don’t get enough calcium. While improving one’s diet will help, many people do need to take calcium supplements as well.”

Tordoff agrees that, “People don’t consume as much calcium as nutritionists would like.” He suggests that, “One reason for this is that foods high in calcium don’t taste good to many people … By understanding how calcium is detected in the mouth, we can either make it easier to consume by reducing its bad taste or even make pharmacological agents that make it taste better.”

Reference: Tordoff’s 2001 calcium study

Related Topics: Other flavors and taste enhancers

The fifth taste: umami
Miracle fruit makes sour taste sweet

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines