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Nutrients 2009, 1(1), 3-17; doi:10.3390/nu1010003

The Amelioration of Olfactory Acuity upon Sexual Maturation Might Affect Food Preferences

1
Lab. “Food Neurochemistry”, University of Parma, 43100 Parma, Italy
2
“National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition” (INRAN), Viale Ardeatina 546, 00178 Roma, Italy
3
Dept. of Physics & Related Technologies (DIFTER), University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze (Ed. #18), 90128 Palermo, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 April 2009 / Accepted: 14 May 2009 / Published: 10 June 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Abstract

Upon sexual maturation, olfactory acuity in women ameliorates and starts oscillating across the cycle. During ovulation, mean olfactory threshold is 30 times lower than during bleeding. Interestingly, menstruated women undergo maleodorant trimethylaminuria. We argued that olfactory amelioration during ovulation might concur to a mating strategy, whereas olfactory impairment during bleeding might protect women against self-refusal. Testosterone and its 17β-estradiol derivative might be responsible for the synchronization of these menstrual events. Furthermore, we posed the question whether olfactory detection amelioration upon sexual maturation might provoke a change in food preferences, for instance a reduction in fish consumption. A preliminary survey in Italy provided encouraging results: 15-44 year-old women have lower fish consumption than 3-14 year-old girls. Surprisingly, men exhibited the same behaviour, so new olfactory tests as well as testosterone measurements are under way.
Keywords: olfactory threshold; menstrual cycle; testosterone; trimethylamine; fish consumption; food preferences olfactory threshold; menstrual cycle; testosterone; trimethylamine; fish consumption; food preferences
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Bignetti, E.; Sinesio, F.; Aiello, G.L.; Cannella, C. The Amelioration of Olfactory Acuity upon Sexual Maturation Might Affect Food Preferences. Nutrients 2009, 1, 3-17.

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