Oats, Wheat, Calcium and Phosphorus

by brenda on April 22, 2011


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I recently read an article that was published in 1929 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and I want to summarize it for all of you. It is titled "The Influence of Cereals Upon the Retention of Calcium and Phosphorus in Children and Adults." 

Keep in mind, cereal as we know it today was invented in 1877, and the Kellogg company was founded in 1906. All of the first cereal producers were Seventh Day Adventists and staunch vegetarians and believed that eating cereal for breakfast was better for humans than eggs or meat. (Side note: The Kelloggs believed that we would have a less promiscuous culture if everyone ate cereal ;)).

In 1924, Wheaties were invented: the first cereal aimed at kids, with sugar as one of the ingredients.

So, for the summary (I will add my notes in blue):



There were very few studies about how cereals effected mineral absorption/retention. The only studies that had been done before this were on dogs and rats. (Note that rats have 30 times more phytase than humans, so they would be able to break down cereals/grains MUCH more efficiently than humans. I would argue, any study done on rats in this area would not be comparable to a study actually done on humans). In dogs, it was found that oatmeal caused rickets. (Rickets: Vitamin D deficincy, malabsorption of calcium and phosphorus, softening of bones). Oatmeal also caused rickets in rats (keep in mind, 30 times more phytase–if it’s causing rickets in rats, what is it doing to humans??), but this effect was overcome if the rat also consumed cod liver oil or if the grain was hydrolyzed (soaked).

Another experiment showed that if rats (again 30 times more phytase) were fed meat, liver, salt, cod liver oil, lard, eggs, molasses and lettuce, they could handle higher levels of wheat and oats than corn, without the effects of rickets.

In a similar study, rats (30 times more phytase ;)) were fed white bread, dried eggs, dried milk, dried vegetables and meat, and those rats did very poorly (the diet consisted of about 70% white bread) and many died.

Pretty much all studies about rickets involve grains and cereals. It’s well known that most humans eat a diet that is made up of many grains and cereals.

This study involves rolled oats and refined wheat and mainly focuses on children and mineral retention.


This experiment included boys ages 3 to 5, girls ages 12 & 13, and adults.

One type of cereal was fed at a time for several days to see what the effect of that particular cereal was. It was more cereal than a person who can afford "an adequate diet" would consume, but less than a poorer person would consume. (We have increased our consumption of wheat as a culture–an "adequate diet" back in 1929 would have included a lot of meat, eggs, and dairy. As a country, we have decreased our meat, eggs and dairy consumption and now consume many more grain products than in the past. Frankly, much of our country now eats like the "poor" people in 1929).

Subjects in the two groups were fed lean ground beef, canned peas, dry milk (re-constituted with distilled water), canned peaches, filtered butterfat (ghee?), lettuce and sugar. They also ate Cream of Wheat or steamed rolled oats, white bread or oatmeal muffins, and pudding made of white bread or oatmeal muffins, with sugar, cocoa, and a small amount of eggs and milk. (See, doesn’t this seem like a diet that a typical American might eat now? Beef for maybe lunch & dinner (if both), Cream of Wheat for Breakfast, white bread for lunch, oatmeal muffins with dinner, pudding for dessert…lots of sugar…lots of grains…).

Stool and urine samples were collected, as well as samples of all of the food.

The boys stored 46 percent of the minerals they consumed when they ate oats. The girls only stored 29 percent (when they ate oats). The percentages were only slightly better when the groups consumed wheat.

The girls stored 25 percent of the phosphorus they consumed when they ate wheat. When they ate oats, there was a noted phosphorus loss.

Extra phosphorus was consumed during the oat period. Even still, there was a decrease in 4 of the children, and only 1/3 to 1/2 of the added phosphorus was retained in the other 2 children. (Translation=oats make our body dispose of phosphorus, a necessary mineral)

In all but 1 case, more calcium was lost in the feces when the subjects ate oats (compared to when they ate wheat).

When the subjects consumed the oat diet, they produced greater amounts of feces.

If someone is going to consume oats, they must consume a lot of calcium so that the calcium:phosphorus intake ratio will be balanced.


I thought this was interesting information & I wanted to share it! 🙂


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cat August 6, 2015 at 10:11 am

That was fascinating and helpful. Thanks. I wonder why oats leach phosphorus. So we can eat oats if we eat dairy and eggs or some source of calcium? Or we should not eat oats? You made an excellent point about how according to this study we now, 100 years later, eat like the “poor” people who could not afford real food. :/


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