Phytase supplementation increases bone mineral density, lean body mass and voluntary physical activity in rats fed a low-zinc diet.J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Jul; 21(7):653-8.JN
Phytic acid forms insoluble complexes with nutritionally essential minerals, including zinc (Zn). Animal studies show that addition of microbial phytase (P) to low-Zn diets improves Zn status and bone strength. The present study determined the effects of phytase supplementation on bone mineral density (BMD), body composition and voluntary running activity of male rats fed a high phytic acid, low-Zn diet. In a factorial design, rats were assigned to ZnLO (5 mg/kg diet), ZnLO+P (ZnLO diet with 1500 U phytase/kg) or ZnAD (30 mg/kg diet) groups and were divided into voluntary exercise (EX) or sedentary (SED) groups, for 9 weeks. SED rats were significantly heavier from the second week, and no catch-up growth occurred in EX rats. Feed intakes were not different between groups throughout the study. ZnLO animals had decreased food efficiency ratios compared to both phytase-supplemented (ZnLO+P) and Zn-adequate (ZnAD) animals (P<.01 compared to ZnLO). The ZnLO+P and ZnAD rats ran 56-75 km more total distance than ZnLO rats (P<.05), with the ZnLO+P rats running more kilometers per week than the ZnLO rats by Week 6. In vivo DEXA analyses indicate that rats fed phytase-supplemented diets had higher lean body mass (LBM) than those fed ZnLO diets; and that rats fed the Zn-adequate diets had the highest LBM. Body fat (%) was significantly lower in EX rats and was both Zn- and phytase insensitive. Rats fed phytase-supplemented diets had higher bone mineral content (BMC), bone area (BA) and BMD than rats fed ZnLO diets; and in rats fed ZnAD diets these indices were the highest. The dietary effects on BMC, BA and BMD were independent of activity level. We conclude that consuming supplemental dietary phytase or dietary Zn additively enhances Zn status to increase BMD, LBM and voluntary physical activity in rats fed a low-Zn diet. While the findings confirm that bone health is vulnerable to disruption by moderate Zn deficiency in rats, this new data suggests that if dietary Zn is limiting, supplemental phytase may have beneficial effects on LBM and performance activity.