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  5. Phytic Acid For Skin: Benefits, Foods and Precautions

If you’re a skincare enthusiast, you must have heard about the exfoliating benefits of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) for the skin by now. While there are several types of AHAs with different functions, one of the mildest varieties is the phytic acid. Derived from rice, legumes and grains, phytic acid has several benefits for your skin. Wondering what they are? Scroll down to find out.

How Does Phytic Acid Benefit Your Skin?

Phytic acid is popularly used in toners, masks, peels and other in-office treatments. The antioxidant properties of phytic acid make it a popular ingredient in many skincare products. Here are some of its benefits:

1. Fights Signs Of Aging And Scarring

Being an AHA, phytic acid possesses exfoliative properties. It’s a milder version of glycolic acid, allowing it to shed off dead skin buildup, but in a gentle way. This can reduce the appearance of signs of aging. Phytic acid is also used in the form of chemical peels to reduce melasma and scarring.

2. Fights Free Radicals

Phytic acid is also an antioxidant. It works as a free radical scavenger, preventing havoc-creating molecules from damaging your body and skin.

Note:

Free radicals are molecules that have lost an electron. These radicals scavenge through your body in search of their pair. The antioxidant properties of phytic acid contribute one electron to these molecules and prevent them from damaging your skin. 

3. Fights Acne

Phytic acid reduces the appearance of pores and acne lesions.

Phytic acid should ideally be used in concentrations between 0.5-5 per cent. The higher the concentration levels, the more its pace of exfoliation.

Who Should Use Phytic Acid?

Phytic acid is a gentle hydroxy acid that can be used on sensitive skin. However, speak to your dermatologist about the concentrations you should use topical phytic acid in. 

Can Phytic Acid Be Mixed With Other Hydroxy Acids?

Phytic acid may be recommended in combination with glycolic acid (or other alpha-hydroxy acids) to increase its efficacy. Talk to your doctor about what concentrations you can use it in when combined with another hydroxy acid.

Which Foods Are High In Phytic Acid?

These foods contain a good amount of phytic acid. 

Almonds

0.4-9.4%

Beans

0.6-2.4%

Lentils

0.3-1.5%

Hazelnuts

0.2-0.9%

Wheat

0.4-1.4%

Rice

0.1-1.1%

Sesame seeds

1.4-5.4%

Peanuts

0.2-4.5%

Rice bran

2.6-8.7%

Peas

0.2-1.2%

Tofu

0.1-2.9%

Rice bran

2.6-8.7%

Wheat bran

2.1-7.3%

Wheat germ

1.1-3.9%

Phytic Acid And Mineral Absorption

One major drawback of phytic acid, which can prove to be beneficial to your skin in some cases, is that it is often termed an ‘anti-nutrient’. This is because it absorbs minerals like iron and zinc. It also reduces the efficacy of calcium (1). So if you consume foods containing phytic acid during your other meals, you may experience mineral deficiency.

However, it only reduces the efficacy of the minerals particular to that food source. For example, if you eat almonds in between your meals, chances are that phytic acid will reduce the amount of minerals you get from these nuts. It will not affect the minerals you eat before or post that.

Make sure you don’t consume these foods in between your meals or add them to your main diet.

How Much Phytic Acid Is Too Much?

If you experience trouble with digestion or are low on your minerals, consuming too much phytic acid may not be a good idea for you. Limiting your intake to 100-400 mg per day is recommended. But, how can you do this?

Here are a few ways of reducing the phytic acid content of a food source:

1. Soaking

Soaking legumes overnight in water followed by cooking can help reduce their phytic acid content (2) (3). Soaking and cooking has been shown to be more effective in reducing phytates as compared to soaking alone (4). 

The duration of soaking also can make a difference in removing phytate content. For example, one study soaked chickpeas for 12 hours and saw a 55.71% reduction in phytates (5).

2. Germination (Sprouting)

In this process, phytic acid content can reduce by 40% in legumes and grains (6) (7).

3. Fermentation

Fermentation promotes phytic acid reduction. One study recorded an 88.3% reduction in phytate content of germinated millet sprouts (8) (9). These techniques used separately or in combination with one another can considerably reduce phytic acid content of foods high in phytates.

Can Phytic Acid Benefit Your Body In Any Way?

If you have zinc or iron deficiency, avoid consuming foods rich in phytic acid too often. However, it is not harmful for those who follow a balanced diet.

If your body does not lack necessary minerals, phytic acid may actually be beneficial in many ways. Research suggests that phytic acid may prevent kidney stones and cancer.

Precautions To Take With Foods High In Phytic Acid

If you are a non-vegetarian, phytates are not much of a concern for you. However, vegetarian and vegan diets highly rely on foods rich in phytic acid like nuts and seeds. So it may be a matter of concern for non-meat eaters. 

Non-vegetarians have one more advantage up their sleeve. Heme-iron, found in animal-derived foods are not absorbed so easily by phytic acid. On the other hand, non-heme iron, found in plant-based foods is easily absorbed by phytic acid. So if you’re vegan, it’s important that you maintain a balanced-diet and not binge too much on foods rich in phytates.

Phytic acid comes with its own set of pros and cons. It is beneficial to your body and skin, when consumed in proper quantities. Follow the precautions we mentioned to avoid side effects.

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