Low zinc, iron, and calcium intakes of Northeast Thai school children consuming glutinous rice-based diets are not exacerbated by high phytate.Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2006 Nov-Dec; 57(7-8):520-8.IJ
Phytate, a salt of phytic acid (myo-inositol 1,2,3,4,5,6-hexakisphosphate), is found in certain plant-based foods. It strongly chelates minerals, forming insoluble complexes in the small intestine that cannot be digested or absorbed. Information on the phytate content of rice-based diets of children in Northeast Thailand is limited. In this study 1-day weighed duplicate diet composites were collected from 40 Northeast Thai children (age 6-13 years) randomly selected from participants (n=567) of an efficacy trial in Ubon Ratchathani province. Diet composites were analyzed for zinc, iron, and calcium by atomic absorption spectrophotometry, and for phytate (as inositol penta-phosphate and hexa-phosphate) by high-performance liquid chromatography; the accuracy and precision were established using a certified reference material for the minerals and an inter-laboratory comparison for phytate. The median (1st, 3rd quartiles) zinc, iron, and calcium contents of the diet composites were 4.3 (3.7, 6.1), 4.3 (3.2, 6.5) and 130 (82, 216) mg/day, respectively. The inositol penta-phosphate and hexa-phosphate levels were so low they were below the detection limit, attributed in part to leaching of water-soluble potassium and magnesium phytate from glutinous rice after soaking overnight before cooking. Clearly, phytate will not compromise mineral absorption from these diets. Instead, low zinc intakes are probably primarily responsible for the low zinc status of these children. In contrast, although intakes of dietary iron appear low, the prevalence of biochemical iron deficiency was also low, suggesting that iron absorption may have been higher than previously assumed. Whether the low calcium intakes compromise optimal bone health in these growing Northeast Thai school children is unknown.