1. Studies on mineral absorption were carried out in ileostomy patients using the metabolic balance technique. The effect of wheat bran on the absorption of phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron was studied. The extent of digestion of bran phytate in the stomach and small intestine was also investigated.
2. Eight patients with well established conventional ileostomies were studied during two periods while on a constant low-fibre diet. In the second period, 16 g wheat bran/d (American Association of Cereal Chemists) was added to the diet. The amount of phytate-P, non-phytate-P, Ca, Mg, Zn and Fe was determined in the ileostomy contents and in duplicate portions of the diet.
3. Of the added bran phytate-P 24–61% was recovered in the ileostomy contents. In the bran period a significantly decreased amount of Zn was absorbed, while the apparent absorption of Fe and phytate-P increased and that of non-phytate-P, Ca and Mg remained constant. Due to the mineral content of bran, the relative absorption differed in some respects from the absolute absorption, being decreased for Zn, Mg and phytate-P but unchanged for Ca, Fe and non-phytate-P.
4. It is concluded that phytate is partly digested in the stomach and small intestine or possibly absorbed. Addition of 16 g bran/d to the diet does not seem to impair the mineral absorption from the small intestine except that of Zn.