What Is Phytic Acid?

Phytic acid is a natural antioxidant that is mainly found in grains, nuts, and seeds. Foods high in phytic acid include cereals, legumes, and certain vegetables.

Phytic acid is considered an antinutrient because it impairs mineral absorption. More recently, studies have shown health benefits, as well, such as prevention and treatment of some conditions, including cancer.

People who have existing mineral deficiency should be mindful of the amount of phytic acid-containing foods they eat, and may want to consult with a dietitian or healthcare provider. 

Also Known As

Phytic acid is also known as:

Potential Health Benefits of Phytic Acid
Theresa Chiechi / Verywell

What Is Phytic Acid Used For?

Phytic acid is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help to remove free radicals from cells in the body. These are the highly reactive byproducts of cellular metabolism. Left unchecked, free radicals can contribute to the development of certain diseases and cancer.

Foods containing phytic acid are nutrient-dense, overall. For most people, these foods are important to include in a healthy and well-balanced diet.


Studies have shown phytic acid may protect against certain cancers. Phytic acid may be particularly protective against colon cancer by suppressing oxidative damage to intestinal cells.


Studies have shown that phytate consumption appears to have a protective effect against osteoporosis. Studying postmenopausal women, those with lower amounts of urinary phytate (indicating less in the diet) were at higher risk of bone loss and hip fracture than women with higher urinary phytate (indicating more in the diet).

Another study found the differences were more marked when comparing women who had greater risk factors for osteoporosis. For these people, a diet higher in phytate may be even more important to help reduce their risks of bone loss and fracture.

Possible Side Effects 

Phytic acid is known as an anti-nutrient because it blocks the absorption of certain minerals, such as iron, zinc, calcium, and manganese. Some things can reduce the likelihood that phytic acid will cause mineral deficiency:

  • Soaking, sprouting, and cooking foods 
  • Eating a balanced diet

The mineral-blocking aspect of phytic acid occurs during a single meal and does not happen cumulatively over the course of a day. That means that phytic acid-containing foods may impact the absorption of minerals eaten in the same meal, but will not continue to impact minerals in subsequent snacks and meals throughout the day.

People who have an existing mineral deficiency should pay attention to how much phytic acid they consume. If you have a mineral deficiency, you may benefit from the support of a dietitian or a healthcare provider to suggest the proper foods, when to eat them, and whether supplementation with minerals is recommended.

Dosage and Preparation 

Phytic acid is not typically taken in supplement form. Instead, your source for phytic acid is in the food you eat and the food choices you make.

There is not a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for phytic acid. A typical Western diet is relatively low in phytate with 250-800 milligrams (mg) of phytate. Vegetarians may have a higher intake of phytate. 

People in developing countries, whose diets consist of primarily cereals and legumes may have as high as 2,000 mg of phytate in their diet.

What to Look For 

Phytic acid is naturally found in the following foods:

  • Grains: Such as whole wheat, oats, and rice
  • Legumes: Such as black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, soy beans, peanuts, and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds: Such as walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, and sesame seeds
  • Tubers: Such as potatoes, turnips, beets, and carrots

Cooking, soaking, and fermenting can reduce the amount of phytic acid in foods. Eating a well-balanced diet helps to ensure that you are not ingesting too much phytic acid.

A Word From Verywell

Phytic acid is known as an anti-nutrient because of the way it blocks the absorption of certain minerals. Because phytic acid is found in so many foods and because those foods are generally healthy and nutritious, it is not recommended to eliminate foods that contain phytic acid.

As an antioxidant, phytic acid has some health benefits. Eating a well-balanced diet can both bring you the benefits of phytic acid and reduce the likelihood that you will consume too much and become mineral deficient. If you have an existing mineral deficiency, talk to your healthcare provider or dietitian.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Silva EO, Bracarense APFRL. Phytic acid: from antinutritional to multiple protection factor of organic systems. J Food Sci. 2016;81(6):R1357-1362. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.13320

  2. da Silva EO, Gerez JR, Hohmann MSN, Verri WA Jr, Bracarense APFRL. Phytic acid decreases oxidative stress and intestinal lesions induced by fumonisin B₁ and deoxynivalenol in intestinal explants of pigs. Toxins (Basel). 2019 Jan 4;11(1):18. doi:10.3390/toxins11010018

  3. López-González AA, Grases F, Monroy N, Marí B, Vicente-Herrero MT, Tur F, Perelló J. Protective effect of myo-inositol hexaphosphate (phytate) on bone mass loss in postmenopausal women. Eur J Nutr. 2013 Mar;52(2):717-26. doi:10.1007/s00394-012-0377-6

  4. Gonzalez AAL, Grases F, Mari B, Tomas-Salva M, Rodriguez A. Urinary phytate concentration and risk of fracture determined by the FRAX index in a group of postmenopausal women. Turk J Med Sci. 2019;49(2):458-463. doi:10.3906/sag-1806-117

  5. Frølich W. Phytate – a natural component in plant food. National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark.

By Kathi Valeii
As a freelance writer, Kathi has experience writing both reported features and essays for national publications on the topics of healthcare, advocacy, and education. The bulk of her work centers on parenting, education, health, and social justice.