Is Phytic Acid a Health Concern?

Phytic acid is not a health concern for those who follow a balanced diet.However, those at risk of an iron or zinc deficiency should diversify their diets and not include high-phytate foods in all meals.This may be especially important for those with an iron deficiency, as well as vegetarians and vegans(2Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

There are two types of iron in foods: heme iron and non-heme iron.Heme-iron is found in animal foods, such as meat, whereas non-heme iron comes from plants.Non-heme iron from plant-derived foods is poorly absorbed, while the absorption of heme-iron is efficient. Non-heme iron is also highly affected by phytic acid, whereas heme-iron is not (18Trusted Source).

In addition, zinc is well absorbed from meat, even in the presence of phytic acid (19Trusted Source).Therefore, mineral deficiencies caused by phytic acid are rarely a concern among meat-eaters.

However, phytic acid can be a significant problem when diets are largely composed of high-phytate foods while at the same time low in meat or other animal-derived products.This is of particular concern in many developing nations where whole grain cereals and legumes are a large part of the diet.


Phytic acid is usually not a concern in industrialized nations, where food diversity and availability is adequate. However, vegetarians, vegans and others who eat a lot of high-phytate foods may be at risk.

The Bottom Line

High-phytate foods, such as grains, nuts and legumes, can raise the risk of iron and zinc deficiency.As a countermeasure, strategies such as soaking, sprouting and fermentation are often employed.For those who eat meat regularly, deficiencies caused by phytic acid are not a concern.On the contrary, consuming high-phytate foods as part of a balanced diet has numerous benefits.In most cases, these benefits outweigh any negative effects on mineral absorption.

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