Phytate intake and molar ratios of phytate to zinc, iron and calcium in the diets of people in China

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;61(3):368-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602513. Epub 2006 Aug 23.


Objective: To assess the phytate intake and molar ratios of phytate to calcium, iron and zinc in the diets of people in China.

Design: 2002 China Nationwide Nutrition and Health Survey is a cross-sectional nationwide representative survey on nutrition and health. The information on dietary intakes was collected using consecutive 3 days 24 h recall by trained interviewers.

Subjects: The data of 68 962 residents aged 2-101 years old from 132 counties were analyzed.

Results: The median daily dietary intake of phytate, calcium, iron and zinc were 1186, 338.1, 21.2 and 10.6 mg, respectively. Urban residents consumed less phytate (781 vs 1342 mg/day), more calcium (374.5 vs 324.1 mg/day) and comparable amounts of iron (21.1 vs 21.2 mg/day) and zinc (10.6 vs 10.6 mg/day) than their rural counterparts. A wide variation in phytate intake among residents from six areas was found, ranging from 648 to 1433 mg/day. The median molar ratios of phytate to calcium, iron, zinc and phytate x calcium/zinc were 0.22, 4.88, 11.1 and 89.0, respectively, with a large variation between urban and rural areas. The phytate:zinc molar ratios ranged from 6.2 to 14.2, whereas the phytate x calcium/zinc molar ratios were from 63.7 to 107.2. The proportion of subjects with ratios above the critical values of phytate to iron, phytate to calcium, phytate to zinc and phytate x calcium/zinc were 95.4, 43.7, 23.1 and 8.7%, respectively. All the phytate/mineral ratios of rural residents were higher than that of their urban counterparts.

Conclusions: The dietary phytate intake of people in China was higher than those in Western developed countries and lower than those in developing countries. Phytate may impair the bioavailability of iron, calcium and zinc in the diets of people in China.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biological Availability
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / analysis
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Calcium, Dietary / analysis
  • Calcium, Dietary / pharmacokinetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Food Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Iron, Dietary / analysis
  • Iron, Dietary / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Phytic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Phytic Acid / analysis
  • Phytic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Rural Population
  • Trace Elements / analysis
  • Trace Elements / pharmacokinetics
  • Urban Population
  • Zinc / analysis
  • Zinc / pharmacokinetics*


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Iron, Dietary
  • Trace Elements
  • Phytic Acid
  • Zinc