Why Does Blood Have a Metallic Taste?
Red blood cells make up the largest portion of human blood cells with a share of 95%. The remaining 5% consists of white blood cells and platelets. All these blood cells float in the so-called blood plasma. Fresh blood tastes like an unpolished piece of iron. If you’ve ever touched a metal handrail and then smelled your hand or stuck your finger in your mouth, you probably know this taste of metal. Blood is mostly made up of red blood cells. These cells are the cause of the metallic taste. So in summary, cells contain a protein called hemoglobin, which contains iron.
The component that causes the metallic taste in the blood is actually iron. However, a large iron carrier should not be considered immediately, the components of the blood should be looked at more closely. A distinction is made between red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and blood platelets. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, the red blood pigment composed largely of small iron ions. Oxygen taken from the lungs binds to these iron ions and is thus distributed throughout the body. A person has about five grams of iron in their body, and to maintain this level, they need to consume at least twice that amount each day through food.
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Even if there is only five grams of iron in the whole body, this certainly small amount is responsible for the characteristic taste. Compared to all other trace elements, iron is actually the most abundant element in our body. After all, it is responsible for the distribution of oxygen in the organism, and therefore indispensable for us.
The normal value depends on gender and age. It is between 4 µmol/l and 30 µmol/l in women, and between 6 µmol/l and 30 µmol/l in men. If the iron content in the blood is too high, there is a risk that the excess iron will accumulate in important organs. In most cases these are the liver, heart or pancreas. In the long term, the function of organs may be restricted, even leading to the development of serious diseases (cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure or pancreatic cancer).
To summarize what we wrote;
The characteristic taste of blood is the result of the perception of iron ions through the taste buds of the tongue. In the blood, iron ions are found in the red blood pigment hemoglobin.
Accordingly, the taste of blood in the mouth occurs when the iron ions themselves or blood gets on the tongue.
Iron ions enter the mouth primarily through dentures.
Another possibility is disturbances in the sense of taste due to illness or medication.
The most common causes of a taste for blood in the mouth are bleeding gums, blood coming from the respiratory tract and less frequently from the stomach and esophagus.
Causes of Iron and Blood Taste in the Mouth: Bleeding Gums
It is by far the most common cause of a blood and iron taste in the mouth. Inflammation of the gums and periodontium (gingivitis and periodontitis) is the result of bacterial deposits (plaque) that harden into tartar through mineralization with calcium ions in saliva and offer an excellent substrate for bacteria in the oral flora. There they can not only reproduce undisturbed, but find enough leftover food for their growth. The acids they secrete attack tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. This eventually separates the gums from the teeth so that tartar and bacteria settle more on the gums, which creates and promotes inflammation. Gum bleeding also occurs in vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) and in the course of HIV infections.
Causes of Iron and Blood Taste in the Mouth: Mouth Ulcers
It occurs in recurrent aphthous stomatitis called aphthae. These are small sores in the mouth and usually occur multiple times, being fairly small but extremely painful for their small size. They usually get better within two weeks, but after a while they return and keep coming back. They are found on the inside of the cheeks, on the soft palate that extends to the throat, and on or under the tongue. Larger ulcers usually take weeks to heal and can leave scars. As a result, a metallic blood taste occurs in the mouth.