Phytase is an enzyme that has the ability to liberate the phosphate and mineral residues from phytic acid (phytate), a compound formed during the maturation process of plant seeds and grains that is commonly found in plant-based foods. Roughly two thirds of the phosphorous present in plant based foods (cereal, wheat and various grains) is bound in the form of phytic phosphate.
Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc are frequently bound (chelated) as positively charged ions in phytate. Phytase cleaves and frees the bound phosphates from the phytic acid molecule providing essential phosphorus needed for healthy nutrition. In addition, calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium and manganese are liberated making these essential minerals available as well.
Phytase is one of the many essential enzymes necessary for the digestive process and a key enzyme for bone health. Commonly found in plant material, phytase is a natural enzyme often used for breaking down and increasing the nutritional quality of grains, legumes, seeds and corn. Studies confirm that the use of this enzyme can help reduce the need for calcium phosphate and increase digestive health.
The Health Benefits of Phytase
1. Boosts Mineral Absorption and Bioavailability
Enzymes in food act synergistically with the enzymes within the human body, significantly to the nutritional value of the food. Recent research shows that supplementing with phytase can significantly increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and assimilate vital minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. While dietary phytic acid in plant foods does have some positive effects, such as deterring kidney stones and preventing heart disease and diabetes, phytase is an enzyme that plays an important role by breaking down additional phytic acid and freeing up the phosphorus for use in the body.[2, 3]
2. Reduction of Phytic Acid in the Body
Phytase helps reduce the negative effects of phytic acid in the body. Many of the plants that we eat such as corn, grains, seeds, legumes, soybeans and most cereals contain high amounts of this acid. Referred to as an “anti-nutritional factor,” these phytates (phytic acid) reduce our ability to absorb nutrients. Phytic acid has been shown to create insoluble complexes with these minerals through its negatively charged phytic acid. This acid has the ability to bind to positively charged molecules in these minerals, as well as in proteins.
3. Reduces Mineral Deficiency
Another study from the Centre for Molecular Biology, Federal Research Centre for Nutrition and Food in Germany found that phytase supplementation could create strong increases in mineral uptake and reduce phytate content in both cereals as well as for legume-derived food products. Moreover, the phytase from the fungus, Aspergillus, was found to have a broad pH range with at least 80% of the maximal activity at pH values, and optimal results for phytate hydrolysis. This study concluded that phytase supplementation, while typically and traditionally used for the enhanced mineral content in animal feed, had a promising and wide variety of applications for human digestion, particularly for human intestinal alkaline phosphatase. It may also be a way to reduce mineral deficiency in vulnerable groups such as childbearing women, vegans, vegetarians and people in the developing world.
4. Reduction in Toxic Build-up in the Digestive Tract
Because phytase can break down phytic acid, our digestive process is streamlined and we have less chance of building up excess insoluble complexes in the digestive tract.
5. Cleaves Bound Phosphorus in the Body
Phytase also breaks down bound forms of phosphorus, another way in which it helps us absorb this mineral it , as well as iron. Phosphorus also plays a role in the metabolism as a central part of the energy molecule ATP or adenosine triphosphate.
6. Boosts Bone Health
Phytase may help prevent bone loss and reduce osteoporosis. As we all know, phosphorus is an essential element for the growth and protection of bone density. An animal trial done at Auburn University looked into the effects of the phytase enzyme on digestion. Phytase was found to not only increase the availability of phosphorous, but also lead to better body weight, digestive efficiency, and overall bone strength in lab animals. It was also found that Phytase could significantly increase performance in animals.
How to Read the Units of Measurement for Phytase
Phytase releases phosphate from phytate substrates and is measured in FTU (Phytase Activity/g). One FTU is an FCC measurement based on enzymatic hydrolysis of sodium phytate under controlled conditions by measurement of the amount of orthophosphate released at 37°C and pH 5.5. The FCC notation stands for Foods Chemical Codex and is a division of USP (United States Pharmacopeia). It sets standards for ingredients. In the case of enzymes, FCC is a standard assay used to accurately determine the activity of enzymes. The current compendium is FCC VI.
Where Can I Find The Best Source of Phytase?
The product VeganZyme® contains a 100% vegan form of Phytase produced by the natural fermentation process of A. niger. It comes from all vegetarian, non-GMO sources, is kosher certified, gluten free, contains no animal product and is completely suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
VeganZyme is the most advanced full-spectrum systemic and digestive enzyme formula in the world and is free from fillers and toxic compounds. This formula contains digestive enzymes, which help digest fats (lipids), sugars, proteins, carbohydrates, gluten, fruits and vegetables, cereals, legumes, bran, nuts and seeds, soy, dairy, and all other food sources.
VeganZyme may also be used as a systemic enzyme blend to break down excess mucus, fibrin, various toxins, allergens, as well as excess clotting factors throughout your body.
- Prochaska LJ, Piekutowski WV. On the synergistic effects of enzymes in food with enzymes in the human body. A literature survey and analytical report. Med Hypotheses. 1994 Jun;42(6):355-62.
- Greiner R, Konietzny U, Jany K-D. Phytate – an undesirable constituent of plant-based foods? (PDF). Journal für Ernährungsmedizin 2006; 8 (3), 18-2.
- Ann-Sofie Sandberg, Henrik Andersson. Effect of dietary phytase on the digestion of phytate in the stomach and small intestine of humans (PDF). Journal of Nutrition. 1987 December 16
- Ralf Greiner, Ursula Konietzny. Phytase for food application (PDF). Centre for Molecular Biology, Federal Research Centre for Nutrition and Food. 2006. 9, D-76 131.
- Ralf Greiner, Mercedes Muzquiz, Carmen Burbano, Carmen Cuadrado, Mercedes M. Pedrosa, Carmen Goyoaga. Purification and characterization of a phytate-degrading enzyme from germinated faba beans (Vicia faba Var. Alameda). J. Agric. Food Chem., 2001, 49 (5), pp 2234–2240 DOI: 10.1021/jf0100806.
- Syed S. Sohail and David A. Roland, Sr. Fabulous Phytase: phytase enzyme proving helpful to poultry producers and environment. Highlights of Agricultural Research. 1999. volume 46, number 1.