What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus is an essential chemical element in the diet, and is in the form of phosphates, it is also a major component of the miner phase of bone and is involved in nearly all the metabolic processes in the body, as also playing an important role in cell metabolisms. It is primarily found in skeletal tissue and to a lesser extent in the muscle tissue and in the blood. Phosphorus is mainly responsible for the storage and transfer of energy in the body, it contributes to the production of bone tissue and the metabolism of lipids and glucose (the energy source our body uses for everyday functions). Phosphorus levels in the blood depend on sever factors, such as its intake by means of nutrition, the proper absorption of phosphorus from the intestine, adequate renal function, and bone metabolism. It is obtained generally by the body from milk products, cereals, meat, fish, and its use by the body is controlled by the vitamin D and calcium, and is generally in the form of phosphates when consumed in our regular diet. Phosphorus is very essential to the formation of our bones and teeth, and around 85% of the body’s phosphorus and phosphates are stored within the bone and make up 1% of a person’s body weight.


Why measure the level of phosphorus?

The test measures the levels of phosphorus in the blood, and can be prescribed in patients with a suspected disorder in the metabolism, or in the context of a diagnosis of a diseases, such as that of thyroid disease, as hyperparathyroidism and hypoparathyroidism. Excessively high levels of phosphorus in the blood, although they are rare, can combine with calcium to form deposits in soft tissues such as the muscle. High levels of phosphorus in blood only occur in people with severe kidney disease or sever dysfunction of their calcium regulation in their organism.

Normal values of phosphorus range from 2.4 to 4.1 mg/dL. However these vary depending on the laboratory tests. Abnormal values of phosphorus may indicate that the patient has bone metastasis, diabetic ketoacidosis, hypocalcaemia, hypoparathyroidism, liver disease, renal failure, sarcoidosis, too much vitamin D, and certain medications such as that of phosphate-containing laxatives may rise levels of phosphorus in the body. On the other hand lower than normal levels can indicate that the patient may have hypercalcemia, hyperinsulinism, hyperparathyroidism, malnutrition, or too little dietary intake of phosphate or vitamin D, which may later result in rickets or osteomalacia.


Standard of preparation

Sampling is usually done in the morning in the hospital. There are no special preparations needed for this test. The doctor will advise and recommend if you need to be fasting prior to the blood examination. You should inform your doctor of any medication you are taking prior to the exam, as some medical treatments may interfere with the blood results.


Is the examination painful or dangerous?

The examination is neither painful nor dangerous. The patient may feel a tingling sensation with the entrance of the needle in the arm when blood is being extracted for examination.


How is the exam performed?

The exam consists of a simple blood sample test.