Taste buds are our receptors for taste. The human tongue has on average 2,000 to 10,000 buds and these are replaced every 2 weeks. The number can vary greatly from individual to individual. As we age the number decreases to about half which is why older adults seem to lose their taste for certain foods. They enable us to differentiate between our 5 tastes: salty, sour, bitter, sweet and umami (savory). Young children have an abundance of taste buds and therefore can find the taste of food more intense. This is the reason why certain foods such as broccoli can be unpleasant to them. Taste buds are located on the upper surface of the tongue, soft palate, upper esophagus, cheek and epiglottis (flap that prevents gag reflex). Our saliva dissolves food and enables it to come in contact with these taste receptors. This information is forwarded to the gustatory areas of the brain allowing us to experience taste. It has not been determined whether each taste is assigned to a particular area or all areas can detect all tastes. We do know that humans have evolved to find salty, sweet and umami foods pleasant while many have a dislike for bitter or sour since these are often associated with rotten or spoiled. However, our sense of taste is helped greatly by our sense of smell. The olfactory cells in the nose enable us to smell what we are eating. This partnership sends a true message to the brain about taste. It is the reason why when we experience congestion as a symptom of a cold or allergy, we have difficulty tasting our food. That is, the chemicals released while chewing are unable to reach the receptors in the nose. Smoking, toxins and very hot liquids can severely damage our taste buds. Since saliva is such an important element in allowing us to taste, it is wise to abstain from drinking liquids while eating. This will enable the true flavor of each food to be properly received.
Sufficient vitamin or veitamin (either is correct) intake is extremely important for proper health. An insufficient amount of an essential vitamin can be the source of many diseases. But what exactly is a vitamin and why in addition to a healthy diet have we been convinced to take vitamins in the form of gummy bears and to drink Vita Water, Propel, Gatorade or any of the other many products that are substitutes for plain water. Vitamins are compounds that our body requires for normal functioning and a sufficient amount should be obtained from food. Diseases due to lack of vitamins were observed long before the term was ever coined. Sailors at sea for long periods of time would suffer from severe inflammation and loss of teeth. James Lind a naval officer in 1747, discovered that something within citrus fruits would reverse this malady and so a cure for Scurvy was established. Around 1929 Gowland Hopkins of the University of Cambridge, while working with rats, discovered that unless milk was added to their diet the rats would not sustain necessary growth. During the same period a Dutch physician named Christiaan Eijkman, while working in the Dutch West indies, noted massive outbreaks of paralysis. His experiments led to the discovery that the elimination of the fibrous husk from rice had been the source of the disease known as beriberi. The missing ingredient because of its particular structure was given the name amines. It came to be believed that these amines were vital to life. The combination of the two words (vital and amines) is how the word vitamin originated. Both Gowland and Eijkman were awarded the Nobel prize and the term vitamin was officially established. We here in the U.S have an abundance of food and this variety should supply us with a complete profile of our daily allotment of nutrients. If, however, your blood test shows a deficiency in any particular vitamin, you should initially attempt to satisfy this need via food. If subsequently there is still a deficiency, follow your doctor’s advice as to what vitamin may be needed to fill the gap.