Generally, fiber and compounds associated with fiber in cereal products (e.g., phytates) have been found to reduce the apparent absorption of minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and manganese) in humans, livestock and animal models. The effects of "soluble" forms of fiber (specifically pectins, gums, resistant starches, lactulose, oligofructose and inulin) on mineral absorption are more difficult to characterize. The addition of these soluble forms of fiber has been found in various studies to add viscosity to the gut contents, promote fermentation and the production of volatile fatty acids in the cecum, have a trophic effect on the ceca of animals and increase serum enteroglucagon concentrations. Thus it is not surprising that the addition of soluble forms of fiber to diets often has been found to improve absorption of minerals. This may reflect absorption of electrolytes from the large intestine. Future work should address the mechanisms by which ingestion of nondigestible carbohydrates improves mineral absorption in humans.