Moving toward a plant-based diet: are iron and zinc at risk?

Nutr Rev. 2002 May;60(5 Pt 1):127-34. doi: 10.1301/00296640260093788.


With reduced intake of meat and increased intake of phytate-containing legumes and whole grains, movement toward plant-based diets reduces dietary iron and zinc absorption. Although vegetarians have lower iron stores, adverse health effects of lower iron and zinc absorption have not been demonstrated with varied, plant-based diets consumed in developed countries. Improved assessment methods and monitoring are needed to detect and prevent possible iron and zinc deficiency with plant-based diets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Availability
  • Diet, Vegetarian / adverse effects
  • Fabaceae
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Iron, Dietary / pharmacokinetics
  • Phytic Acid / adverse effects
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / pharmacokinetics


  • Iron, Dietary
  • Phytic Acid
  • Zinc