A mathematical model of zinc absorption in humans as a function of dietary zinc and phytate

J Nutr. 2007 Jan;137(1):135-41. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.1.135.


The quantities of zinc and phytate in the diet are the primary factors determining zinc absorption. A mathematical model of zinc absorption as a function of dietary zinc and phytate can be used to predict dietary zinc requirements and, potentially, enhance our understanding of zinc absorption. Our goal was to develop a model of practical and informative value based on fundamental knowledge of the zinc absorption process and then fit the model to selected published data to assess its validity and estimate parameter values. A model of moderate mathematical complexity relating total zinc absorption to total dietary zinc and total dietary phytate was derived and fit to 21 mean data from whole day absorption studies using nonlinear regression analysis. Model validity, goodness of fit, satisfaction of regression assumptions, and quality of the parameter estimates were evaluated using standard statistical criteria. The fit had an R(2) of 0.82. The residuals were found to exhibit a normal distribution, constant variance, and independence. The parameters of the model, A(MAX), K(R), and K(P), were estimated to have values of 0.13, 0.10, and 1.2 mmol/d, respectively. Several of these estimates had wide CI attributable in part to the small number and the scatter of the data. The model was judged to be valid and of immediate value for studying and predicting absorption. A version of the model incorporating a passive absorption mechanism was not supported by the available data.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption* / drug effects
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Statistical
  • Phytic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / pharmacokinetics*


  • Phytic Acid
  • Zinc