Meals and dephytinization affect calcium and zinc absorption in nigerian children with rickets

Tom D. Thacher, Oluseyi Aliu, Ian J. Griffin, Sunday D. Pam, Kimberly O. O'Brien, Godwin E. Imade, Steven A. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Nutritional rickets resulting from calcium insufficiency is common in Nigeria and high dietary phytate is thought to inhibit calcium and zinc absorption. We compared the effects of a high-phytate meal and enzymatic dephytinization on calcium and zinc absorption in Nigerian children with and without rickets. Nineteen children with rickets and 15 age-matched control children, aged 2-10 y, were given calcium (600 mg/d) and ergocalciferol (1250 μg/wk). After 6 wk, calcium and zinc absorption were measured in both groups with and without maize porridge using stable isotopes. One week later, absorption measurements were repeated to assess the effects of enzymatic dephytinization and fermentation of the maize porridge. The phytate concentration of maize porridge (3.87 ± 0.38 g/kg wet weight) was reduced by enzymatic dephytinization (2.83 ± 0.41 g/kg; P < 0.001) but not by fermentation (3.35 ± 0.27 g/kg; P = 0.08). Calcium and zinc absorption were unaffected by the presence of rickets or by fermentation of maize porridge. Calcium absorption was greater with a meal (61.3 ± 25.1%) than without (27.8 ± 14.6%; P < 0.001). Zinc absorption was lower with a meal (16.2 ± 8.0%) than without (63.4 ± 23.9%; P < 0.001). Enzymatic dephytinization increased relative zinc absorption from a meal by 101 ± 81% (P < 0.001) but did not affect calcium absorption. Rickets was not associated with impaired calcium or zinc absorption. Calcium absorption was enhanced by maize porridge, but zinc absorption was reduced. Enzymatic dephytinization increased zinc absorption. Multiple strategies may be required to optimize calcium and zinc absorption in deficient populations J. Nutr.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)926-932
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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