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J Nutr. 2008 Dec;138(12):2363-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.093823.

Dietary reference intakes for zinc may require adjustment for phytate intake based upon model predictions.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Section of Nutrition, University of Colorado, School of Medicine, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


The quantity of total dietary zinc (Zn) and phytate are the principal determinants of the quantity of absorbed Zn. Recent estimates of Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for Zn by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) were based on data from low-phytate or phytate-free diets. The objective of this project was to estimate the effects of increasing quantities of dietary phytate on these DRI. We used a trivariate model of the quantity of Zn absorbed as a function of dietary Zn and phytate with updated parameters to estimate the phytate effect on the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) and Recommended Daily Allowance for Zn for both men and women. The EAR predicted from the model at 0 phytate was very close to the EAR of the IOM. The addition of 1000 mg phytate doubled the EAR and adding 2000 mg phytate tripled the EAR. The model also predicted that the EAR for men and women could not be attained with phytate:Zn molar ratios > 11:1 and 15:1, respectively. The phytate effect on upper limits (UL) was predicted by first estimating the quantity of absorbed Zn corresponding to the UL of 40 mg for phytate-free diets, which is 6.4 mg Zn/d. Extrapolation of the model suggested, for example, that with 900 mg/d phytate, 100 mg dietary Zn is required to attain 6.4 mg absorbed Zn/d. Experimental studies with higher Zn intakes are required to test these predictions.

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