Soy protein, phytate, and iron absorption in humans

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URL: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/56/3/573/4715420?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Journal: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Publication Date: 09/1992

Summary: The effect of reducing the phytate in soy-protein isolates on nonheme-iron absorption was examined in 32 human subjects. Iron absorption was measured by using an extrinsic radioiron label in liquid-formula meals containing hydrolyzed corn starch, corn oil, and either egg white or one of a series of soy-protein isolates with different phytate contents. Iron absorption increased four- to fivefold when phytic acid was reduced from its native amount of 4.9–8.4 to < 0.01 mg/g of isolate. Even relatively small quantities of residual phytate were strongly inhibitory and phytic acid had to be reduced to < 0.3 mg/g of isolate (corresponding to < 10 mg phytic acid/meal) before a meaningful increase in iron absorption was observed. However, even after removal of virtually all the phytic acid, iron absorption from the soy-protein meal was still only half that of the egg white control. It is concluded that phytic acid is a major inhibitory factor of iron absorption in soy-protein isolates but that other factors contribute to the poor bioavailability of iron from these products.

Key Takeaways

Phytates are anti-nutrients plants that bind minerals and prevent their absorption. This study confirms this by comparing iron absorption in soy-protein to iron absorption in soy-protein that has had its phytates reduced. There was a 4-5 fold increase in iron absorption with reduced phytates. Then iron absorption was between soy-protein with all phytates removed and egg whites. The egg whites still resulted in 2x the iron absorption capacity of soy-protein after phytate removal.

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