Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the human body, after calcium. Approximately 85% of the body’s phosphorus is found in the bones and teeth, with the remainder present in cells and tissues. Phosphorus is an essential component of a healthy diet and is involved in numerous physiological processes.

Functions of Phosphorus

  • Bone and teeth formation: Phosphorus, along with calcium, is vital for the formation and maintenance of strong bones and teeth.
  • Energy production: Phosphorus is a component of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary source of cellular energy.
  • DNA and RNA synthesis: Phosphorus is a crucial element in the structure of nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA.
  • Acid-base balance: Phosphorus, in the form of phosphate, helps regulate the body’s acid-base balance.
  • Cell membrane structure: Phosphorus is a component of phospholipids, which are essential for cell membrane structure and function.

Good Sources of Phosphorus

  • Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are rich sources of phosphorus.
  • Meat and poultry: Beef, chicken, and turkey provide significant amounts of phosphorus.
  • Fish: Salmon, tuna, and other fish are good sources of phosphorus.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas contain substantial amounts of phosphorus.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of phosphorus.

How Much Phosphorus Do We Need?

 (Based on NIH recommendations): The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for phosphorus varies depending on age, sex, and life stage. Some general guidelines are:

  • Infants 0-6 months*: 100 mg/day (milligram)
  • Infants 7-12 months*: 275 mg/day
  • Children 1-3 years: 460 mg/day
  • Children 4-8 years: 500 mg/day
  • Children 9-13 years: 1,250 mg/day
  • Adolescents 14-18 years: 1,250 mg/day
  • Adults 19 years and older: 700 mg/day
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 700 mg/day

* Adequate intake (AI)

What Are The Signs of Phosphorus Deficiency?

Phosphorus deficiency, or hypophosphatemia, is relatively rare but can occur due to certain medical conditions, malnutrition, or alcoholism. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Weak bones and teeth: Low phosphorus levels can lead to decreased bone mineral density and tooth decay.
  • Muscle weakness and pain: A phosphorus deficiency can cause muscle weakness, cramps, and spasms.
  • Fatigue: Low phosphorus levels can contribute to decreased energy production and fatigue.
  • Loss of appetite: A lack of phosphorus can result in a reduced appetite and weight loss.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Phosphorus?

Excessive phosphorus intake, or hyperphosphatemia, can lead to several health issues, particularly in individuals with kidney problems. Some possible consequences include:

  • Calcification: High phosphorus levels can cause calcium to deposit in soft tissues, leading to calcification and potential organ damage.
  • Bone loss: Excess phosphorus can interfere with calcium absorption, resulting in bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Kidney damage: High phosphorus levels can strain the kidneys, potentially worsening existing kidney issues or causing new problems.
  • Imbalance of other minerals: Excessive phosphorus intake can disrupt the balance of other minerals in the body, such as calcium and magnesium, which can lead to a range of health issues.