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July 2021

J Am Diet Assoc. 1987 Aug; 87(8): 1043-7.

Phytate:zinc and phytate X calcium:zinc millimolar ratios in self-selected diets of Americans, Asian Indians, and Nepalese.

Ellis R, Kelsay JL, Reynolds RD, Morris ER, Moser PB, Frazier CW.

The literature indicates that phytate:zinc and phytate X calcium:zinc millimolar ratios of a diet may provide useful indexes of the bioavailability of dietary zinc. However, there is little information on the phytate:zinc and phytate X calcium:zinc millimolar ratios for total human diets. We have therefore determined the phytate:zinc and phytate X calcium:zinc millimolar ratios of self-selected diets of 29 American omnivores, 23 American vegetarians, 30 Asian Indian immigrant vegetarians, and 26 Nepalese lactating vegetarians. Criteria for selection of subjects were: good health, no extreme dietary habits, and no intake of nutrient supplements. According to the limited literature, the suggested critical values for phytate:zinc and phytate X calcium:zinc millimolar ratios in animal diets and retrospective calculations from human diets are greater than 10 and greater than 200, respectively. The mean phytate:zinc and phytate X calcium:zinc millimolar ratios of American omnivorous diets in the present study were less than 10 and 200, respectively. Confirmation of the critical molar ratios as indexes of the bioavailability of zinc in human diets has not been established by experimentation. However, if the data from animal studies are applicable to human diets, the present study suggests that phytate has little influence on zinc bioavailability of most American diets. In contrast, the mean phytate:zinc and phytate X calcium:zinc millimolar ratios of all vegetarian diets were above the proposed critical levels. Those data, therefore, suggest that phytate might increase the risk of impaired zinc bioavailability for vegetarians consuming a relatively high level of calcium.


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