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GSE Phytic Acid / Phytate - Malabsorption Agent

Phytic Acid - "Malabsorption Agent"

Phytic acid in plants

Phytic Acid is a plant seed's storage form for ~70% of its phosphorus  (and also the B-vitamin inositol) – phytic acid is especially found in the outer hulls (bran portion) of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, with higher amounts found in plants grown using typical commercial high-phosphate fertilzers rather than natural compost. The plant uses the phosphorus as an energy source to sprout the seed

Srivastava BN and others. Influence of Fertilizers and Manures on the Content of Phytin and Other Forms of Phosphorus in Wheat and Their Relation to Soil Phosphorus. Journal of the Indian Society of Soil Science. 1955 III:33-40.

– It's snowflake-like molecule is basically an Inositol (B-vitamin) ring with 6 phosphate groups attached -


(Phytic acid, myoinositol hexaphosphate, IP6)

–   The grasping "arms" of the phytic acid molecule easily bind with other minerals - e.g. calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc making them unavailable via digestion. In this form it is called phytate . . .

Phytic acid / Phytate as food

When phytic acid is bound / chelated to a mineral it is called phytate


Phytic acid in whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes  eaten by humans and other NON-ruminants is an Antinutrient  (non-ruminants have only one stomach, do not chew the cud and do not produce the phytase enzymes required to break down phytic acid) - which can cause nutrient deficiencies (Eg. of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper) if not first prepared for consumption by soaking, fermenting or sprouting these foods - methods which produce phytase enzymes to at least partially break down the phytic acid. However, studies reveal that some people can consume phytic acid without adverse consequnces, possibly mitigated by favorable gut flora (which may break down phytase) and other dietary contributions - such as the concurrent consumption of vitamin A and vitamin D  (provided in animal fats)


Vital for bones and teeth, and health in general,  PHOSPHORUS as a component of phytic acid in food, is mostly INdigestible by NON-ruminants -  and If consumed, without first being broken down by preparatory methods producing phytase enzymes, it will pass out in the stool.

Phytic acid  inhibits enzymes needed for digesting food - including pepsin for breaking down protein in the stomach, amylase for  breaking down starch into sugar, and the pancreatic enzyme trypsin for protein digestion in the small intestine.

Tannenbaum and others. Vitamins and Minerals, in Food Chemistry, 2nd edition. OR Fennema, ed. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, 1985, p 445.

 Singh M and Krikorian D. Inhibition of trypsin activity in vitro by phytate. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 1982 30(4):799-800.

Phytic acid can bind to minerals (Eg. magnesium, zinc, iron) in whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes and also in your digestive tract to minerals that you consumed in other foods - making them UNavailable for intestinal absorption - unlike ruminants, humans are unable to break down phytic acid and if not broken down prior to consumption (by soaking, fermenting, sprouting - preparation methods that produce phytase enzymes) it can cause several health issues related to nutrient availability/utilization when consumed on a regular basis:

Cause mineral malabsorption

✔ Negatively impact utilization of protein and starch/carbohydrate

✔ Interfere with lipid absorption.

However, consumed in moderation, phytic acid also confers some beneficial effects.

Phytic Acid - Good or Bad for your health?

Who is eating phytic acid?

World Consumption of Phytic Acid

What foods contain phytic acid?

What Foods contain Phytic Acid


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