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September 2022

J Am Diet Assoc. 1988 Dec; 88(12): 1562-6.

Nutritional status and phytate:zinc and phytate x calcium:zinc dietary molar ratios of lacto-ovo vegetarian Trappist monks: 10 years later.

Harland BF, Smith SA, Howard MP, Ellis R, Smith JC.

Department of Human Nutrition and Food, School of Human Ecology, Howard University, Washington, D.C. 20059.

A nutrition assessment of 16 members of a community of lacto-ovo vegetarian Trappist monks was conducted in 1977. Plasma zinc was found to be low-normal, which was attributed primarily to high intakes of phytate-containing foods. Individual and group counseling were instituted over a 10-year period in an attempt to emphasize the importance of wise food selection within the constraints of lacto-ovo vegetarianism. In 1987, a more comprehensive nutrition assessment of 21 members of the same community was performed. Food composites were analyzed, and 3-day instead of 24-hour dietary records were kept. Intakes of phytate-containing foods had decreased from 4,569 to 972 mg/day; intake of dietary zinc had increased from 7.4 to 9.7 mg/day; and the phytate:zinc molar ratio had decreased from 67 to 14 for the years 1977 and 1987, respectively. An analyzed phytate:zinc molar ratio of 9.8 and an analyzed phytate x calcium:zinc molar ratio of 0.3 were representative of the 1987 community. Both were within normal ranges. Plasma zinc had risen to upper-normal levels. The 1987 nutrition assessment showed that it is possible to be adequately nourished with a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet provided one has proper knowledge of the phytate-containing foods and the methods for compensating with foods of greater mineral density (primarily zinc).


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