Phytic acid is a natural antioxidant that’s mainly found in seeds, nuts, and grains. Foods higher in phytic acid include vegetables, legumes, and cereals.
The phytic acid is also considered an antinutrient primarily because it interferes with mineral absorption. Studies have associated phytic acid with many health benefits, such as treatment and prevention of some health conditions, including certain types of cancer.[i]
People with an existing mineral deficiency should be cautious with regards to the amount of phytic-containing foods they consume and might want to consult a physician or dietician.
Phytic acid is an essential antioxidant. In essence, antioxidants aid in the removal of free radicals from body cells. If left unchecked, the free radicals could contribute to the development of cancer and other types of diseases. Foods that contain phytic acid are generally nutrient-dense. Technically, for many people, foods rich in phytic acid should be included in every balanced and healthy diet.
Research shows phytic acid might help protect against certain types of cancers. The phytic acid might be more protective against colon cancer. It does this through suppression of oxidative damage to the colon cells.[iv]
Research has shown that consumption of phytate seems to have a remarkable protective effect against osteoporosis. Studies focused on postmenopausal women, especially those with low amounts of urinary phytate, showed they were at a high risk of hip fracture and bone loss than women with high urinary phytate.[v]
Another study showed the differences were more significant when comparing women with greater risk factors for osteoporosis. Among these people, diets high in phytate might be more essential to help mitigate the risks of hip fracture and bone loss.[vi]
Phytic acid has a neuroprotective effect, which has previously been found in Parkinson’s disease culture model. This protects the body against neuron apoptosis known to cause Parkinson’s disease. By inducing autophagy, the phytic acid helps in preventing against Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative diseases.
Reduces Glucose Levels
Research shows that phytic acid minimizes blood glucose levels in rats and mice. It does this by slowing down the rate of starch digestion.
Nutrition Needs of Phytic Acid
As of today, there is no recommended dietary allowance for phytic acid.
Phytic Acid Deficiency
Phytic acid shouldn’t be a significant health concern for people following a balanced diet. Nevertheless, people at risk of a zinc or iron deficiency should consider diversifying their diets and not including high phytate foods in their meals. This might be important, especially for people with iron deficiency, vegans, and vegetarians.
There are two main iron types present in foods. These include non-heme iron and heme iron. Animal products contain heme iron, while non-heme is found in plant-based products. The non-heme iron present in plant-based foods is absorbed poorly, whereas heme iron is absorbed pretty fast. Also, non-heme iron is often affected by phytic acid, while heme iron isn’t.[ii]
Also, zinc is perfectly absorbed from meat, even when consumed with phytic acid. As a result, mineral deficiencies caused by phytic acid shouldn’t be a concern to meat-eaters.[iii] Nevertheless, phytic acid could be an issue when the diets are largely composed of high phytate foods and low in animal products.
This is a major concern, especially in countries where legumes and whole-grain cereals are part of the daily diet. Phytic acid isn’t a concern in developed countries, where food availability and diversity is sufficient.
Possible Side Effects
Phytic acid is widely known as an antinutrient mainly because it hinders the absorption of certain minerals like manganese, calcium, iron, and zinc. Some things might reduce the possibility that the phytic acid might cause mineral deficiency, including.
- Eating balanced diets
- Cooking, sprouting, and soaking foods[vii].
The mineral blocking element of the phytic acid occurs during a meal and doesn’t cumulatively happen over a day. This means that phytic-containing foods might affect the absorption of minerals consumed in the same meal but won’t continue to affect minerals in subsequent meals and snacks during the day.[viii]
People with an existing mineral deficiency should pay close attention to the amount of phosphate that they eat. So, if you have a specific mineral deficiency, you might benefit from the support of a physician or a dietician to recommended the most suitable foods, when you should eat them, and whether supplementation with other minerals is necessary. The phytate has been found to hinder digestive enzymes like ß-glycosidase, pepsin, and trypsin.
In excess, phytic acid is known to cause some issues in the gastrointestinal tract, but no evidence has proven this. In more recent studies, there were no harmful effects in GI of mice fed with high amounts of phytate. Researchers strongly believe that the gastrointestinal tract irritation from foods containing phytate comes from dietary lectins.
Dosage And Preparation
Phytic acid is rarely taken as a supplement. The most common source of phytic acid is the food that we eat and the food choices we make. As a result, there is no recommended dietary allowance for phytic acid. For instance, a standard western diet is pretty low in phytate containing about 250 mg to 800 mg of phytate. Vegetarians might have a high intake of phytate. People in developing nations, whose diets mainly comprise legumes and cereals, might have as high as 2,000 milligrams of phytate in their diet.[ix]
Ways To Get Your Phytic Acid
You can get phytic acid from food or IP-6 supplements. Phytic acid is a compound that’s found in a wide variety of plant-based foods. It’s also known as IP6 and inositol hexaphosphate. The acid is the main way phosphorus is stored in different plants, including nuts, seeds, and beans. We recommend that you get your phytic acid from dietary foods because you also get to enjoy other health benefits rather than just taking IP6 supplements.
Foods rich in Phytic Acid
The highest amounts of phytic acid can be found in unprocessed and raw plant-based foods. Incase your diet isn’t nutritious, or you have a zinc or iron deficiency, you should minimize the amounts of phytic acid you eat. Following are the four main foods high in phytic acid:
Most legumes and beans contain high levels of phytic acid. Nevertheless, research shows that soaking seeds before consumption reduces the phytate amounts.
When a plant ripens, phytate quickly accumulates in the seeds. The phytic acid can be found in sunflower seeds, linseeds, and sesame seeds.
Naturally, nuts contain high amounts of phytic acid. Technically, activating nuts is a process that involves soaking the nuts in water and then removing water from them at lower temperatures; this reduces some of this phytic acid. Nevertheless, some people might think this exhaustive process isn’t worth the results, as it only gets rid of small amounts of phytates.
Grains are known to contain small amounts of phytic acid, but only when they have not been processed. Also, whole grains contain antinutrients such as saponins and lectins. Nevertheless, products, which are made with processed grains, contain less healthy nutrients. Fermenting, soaking, and cooking could reduce the phytic acid levels in food. Consuming a balanced diet helps make sure you aren’t consuming lots of phytic acids.
Phytase is widely known as a safe supplement when used according to good manufacturing practices. Carefully read the label, particularly if you have sensitivities or allergies, to determine the source of the ingredients in the supplement and whether the supplement in question is free of allergies.
Avoid supplements that make unsupported claims. No single supplement should claim they could cure, prevent or treat diseases. Supplementing with phytase might be necessary for some individuals. Keep in mind that it’s best to obtain phytic acid from food sources such as grains, legumes, and seeds, if possible. Phytic acid is absorbed better from food than from supplements.
What is the main benefit of phytic acid?
What food is high in phytic acid?
What is phytic acid?
Does the phytic acid cause inflammation?
Do bananas have phytic acid?
Does vitamin C neutralize phytic acid?
- [i] Silva EO, Bracarense APFRL. Phytic acid: from antinutritional to multiple protection factor of organic systems. J Food Sci. 2016;81(6):R1357-1362. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.13320
- [ii] Péneau S, Dauchet L, Vergnaud AC, Estaquio C, Kesse-Guyot E, Bertrais S, Latino-Martel P, Hercberg S, Galan P. Relationship between iron status and dietary fruit and vegetables based on their vitamin C and fiber content. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1298-305. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1298. PMID: 18469253.
- [iii] Hunt JR. Bioavailability of iron, zinc, and other trace minerals from vegetarian diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):633S-639S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/78.3.633S. PMID: 12936958.
- [iv] da Silva EO, Gerez JR, Hohmann MSN, Verri WA Jr, Bracarense APFRL. Phytic acid decreases oxidative stress and intestinal lesions induced by fumonisin B₁ and deoxynivalenol in intestinal explants of pigs. Toxins (Basel). 2019 Jan 4;11(1):18. doi:10.3390/toxins11010018
- [v] López-González AA, Grases F, Monroy N, Marí B, Vicente-Herrero MT, Tur F, Perelló J. Protective effect of myo-inositol hexaphosphate (phytate) on bone mass loss in postmenopausal women. Eur J Nutr. 2013 Mar;52(2):717-26. doi:10.1007/s00394-012-0377-6
- [vi] Gonzalez AAL, Grases F, Mari B, Tomas-Salva M, Rodriguez A. Urinary phytate concentration and risk of fracture determined by the FRAX index in a group of postmenopausal women. Turk J Med Sci. 2019;49(2):458-463. doi:10.3906/sag-1806-117
- [vii] Zimmermann MB, Hurrell RF. Nutritional iron deficiency. Lancet. 2007 Aug 11;370(9586):511-20. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61235-5. PMID: 17693180.
- [viii] Gibson RS, Heath AL, Szymlek-Gay EA. Is iron and zinc nutrition a concern for vegetarian infants and young children in industrialized countries? Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100 Suppl 1:459S-68S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.071241. Epub 2014 May 28. PMID: 24871479.
- [ix] Frølich W. Phytate – a natural component in plant food. National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark.