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Scientists May Have Discovered a Sixth Taste: Calcium

Calcium = The Sixth Taste?

Scientists in Philadelphia have discovered that mice can taste calcium. Since humans and rodents share many of the same genes, the human tongue should taste calcium as well. For centuries the four basic tastes were sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. However when umami, the fifth "savory" taste, was recognized 100 years ago, the door opened to research other tastes. According to Michael Tordoff, a geneticist who participated in the mice study, a human's palate can detect the mineral. It tastes:

Calcium tastes calcium-y, 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.

Tordoff claims that the bitterness of certain vegetables, like bok choy or dark greens, is due to high levels of calcium. Although milk is full of calcium, the fats prevent us from tasting it.

Since I've always thought it was crazy that only four basic tastes exist, the discovery is incredibly interesting, and I think that maybe I've tasted calcium. What do you make of the findings? Have you ever tasted calcium?


Join The Conversation
smartelder1 smartelder1 8 years
I hope this is true because calcium is one of the most deprived nutrients of a person's diet. I believe some people are intuitive eaters, and those people have a refined ability to know what their body needs, and this includes calcium. Cool article.
cherryblossom cherryblossom 8 years
I totally understand this! just the other day i bought individual pots of apple sauce with calcium for bone health , and although i like all other kinds of apple sauce i noticed that there was a bitter chalky tangy kind of taste which made me not want to eat it.
lexichloe lexichloe 8 years
Interesting study. I love milk, so I would have to say if the calcium taste exists, I probably have tasted it.
milosmommy milosmommy 8 years
Sure whenever I eat a tums...they try and give them a fruity flavor, but there is definitely a bitter flavor there too that I guess is the calcium.
Rasputin45 Rasputin45 8 years
If it tastes like really bitter dandelion greens, then I definitely have tasted it, but less so (or in a more delicious way) in things like like beet greens, spinach, etc. I wonder if that could be it?
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that it's intersting - although sometimes when i'm craving food - and i don't know what i want - i can't just categorize it as simply as sweet, salty, sour etc. i wonder what calcium tastes like though - since i don't drink milk. i have to resort to certain foods that are high in it - yet i'm not always sure about what i'm tasting or picking up on.
shafiii shafiii 8 years
this is def true. since i don't enjoy drinking milk and can't swallow pills i take this calcium tablets that dissolve in water. although they have a slight citrus taste, it also tastes bitter especially at the end. its a taste that can't really be given a name. it must be the taste of the calcium itself.
aphill4 aphill4 8 years
I HAVE!!!! I recently bought a container of very small fresh mozzerella balls, as in, swimming in a pool of their own water to keep them fresh. I used a few the day that I got them and then again a few days later and I definitely noticed an accumulation of extra calcium threads (nothing gross, I promise) around the balls themselves. I tried one before using it, and right then and there I became familiar with a distinct flavor of a fresh bitterness, if you could call it that. It certainly didn't taste rancid or anything like that, and I had kept it very well preserved, so I knew it hadn't gone bad, but I specifically tasted a unique taste that I hadn't when I first bought them. Judging by what I've heard calcium tastes like, I'm guessing that's what I got! Short story long, sorry guys!
caryatid caryatid 8 years
chalky? maybe?
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