What is phosphorus?

Next to calcium, phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the human body.  About 85% of its total quantity is deposited in bones , and the remaining is present in smaller amounts in soft tissues and extracellular fluids. Phosphorus helps filter out waste in the kidneys and plays an important role in storing and using energy. This mineral is needed for growth, maintenance and repair of all tissues and cells. Maintaining normal blood calcium and phosphorus concentrations is essential for bone development.



What is the function of phosphorus?

Phosphorus is important for the development of healthy bones and teeth. In the form of phospholipids, it performs a part in cell membranes by transforming food into energy. Also, it is a constituent in the production of genetic building blocks of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), certain proteins and sugars as well as needed to help balance and use of certain vitamins (of the vitamin B group) and minerals.

Individuals with certain health conditions such as diabetes, starvation and alcoholism as well as medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease have low levels of phosphorus in their systems. Therefore, it is important to find the proper balance between calcium and phosphorus in order to ensure proper bone density and prevent osteoporosis from developing.



Which foods are rich in phosphorus?

Most individuals receive plenty of phosphorus in their diets. It is present in almost all foods and is added to the production of many processed foods. Foods such as
cereals, legumes, eggs, meat (both red and white), milk, fish, cheese and vegetables are especially rich in phosphorus.



What is the recommended daily requirement of phosphorus?

The recommended daily intake of phosphorus is 800 mg in adults ages 19 and older. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should increase their doses by 400 mg if they are under the ages of 18.



What are the consequences of phosphorus deficiency?

Phosphorus deficiency is very rare and mainly caused by extensive use of certain medications. Among the possible consequences of phosphorus deficiency include rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, fragile bones, irregular breathing, numbness, weakness, anxiety and tiredness.  Also an imbalance between levels of phosphorus and calcium can lead to osteoporosis.



What are the consequences of excessive phosphorus intake?

Having too much phosphorus in the body is generally more common and more stressful than having too little. Excessive intake of phosphorus can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Too much phosphorus is mainly found in individuals with severe kidney disease or severe dysfunction of calcium levels. In the first few days of a child’s life, too much phosphorus can lead to reduction of calcium levels in the blood as well as muscle spasms.



It is true that phosphorus can help improve memory?

Most memory problems occur with age, and reflect changes in the structure and function of the brain.There is no scientific evidence to prove the link between phosphorus intake and improved memory. Rather than relying on a single nutrient, it is advisable to stay healthy by maintaining a healthy, well balanced diet.