What Is Phosphorus Used For?

Reviewed on 2/17/2021
Phosphorus is an essential mineral that the body needs to perform a wide range of essential functions.
Phosphorus is an essential mineral that the body needs to perform a wide range of essential functions.

Phosphorus is an essential mineral that the body needs to perform a wide range of essential functions. It is a mineral that combines with other substances to form phosphate compounds. Besides calcium, phosphorus is the most abundantly present mineral in the body. It has a role in strong healthy teeth and bones.

About 85% of the body's phosphorus is present in the bones and teeth. It is also present in smaller quantities in the soft tissues of the body.

What is the role of phosphorus in the body?

Phosphorus plays an important role in maintaining the good health of the kidneys, bones, blood vessels, muscles, and cells in the body. Some of the health benefits of phosphorus include:

  • Keeps the bones and teeth strong
  • Living cells use phosphate to transport energy with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is a phosphorus compound.
  • ATP and adenosine diphosphate (ADP) are necessary for every cellular process that uses energy.
  • Phospholipids are the main structural components of all cellular membranes. These are made of phosphorus and fat.
  • Reduces muscle pain after exercise
  • Maintains normal pH level in the blood
  • Filters and eliminates waste from the kidneys
  • Helps in the growth, maintenance, and repair of the cells and tissues
  • Production of RNA and DNA

What are the dietary sources of phosphorus?

Many different types of foods contain phosphorus, mainly in the form of phosphates and phosphate esters.

Phosphorus (organic) is found naturally in protein-rich foods such as:

  • Dairy products
  • Egg
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes, beans, and peas
  • Cocoa
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes

Phosphorus found in animal food products is more easily absorbed than that found in plant foods because human intestines lack the phytase enzyme.

Phosphorus (inorganic) is also found in the form of additives or preservatives in fast foods, snacks, ready-to-eat meals, chocolate, aerated drinks, beer, and processed foods. Phosphorus in food additives is completely absorbed in the body.

What is the recommended dietary allowance of phosphorus?

The recommended amount of phosphorus intake depends on age. Pregnant and lactating women require the same amount of phosphorus intake as other adult women.

Recommended daily allowance of dietary phosphorus are as follows:

  • Birth to 6 months: 100 mg
  • 7-12 months: 275 mg
  • 1-3 years: 460 mg
  • 4-8 years: 500 mg
  • 9-18 years: 1,250 mg
  • 19+ years: 700 mg

Normal blood level of phosphorus: Normal amount of phosphorus in the blood is 2.5-4.5 mg/dL.


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What happens if phosphorus is low in the body?

Hypophosphatemia is low levels of phosphorus in the body. Certain health conditions such as diabetes, alcoholism, eating disorder, kidney disease, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease, and certain medications reduce phosphorus absorption and cause lower levels of phosphorus in the body.

Medications that may lower phosphorus levels include:

Symptoms of low phosphorus levels include:

What happens if phosphorus is in excess in the body?

Hyperphosphatemia or high phosphorus levels in the body are generally caused by kidney disease or consuming too much dietary phosphorus and not enough dietary calcium.

Healthy kidneys help remove excess phosphorus in the blood. When a person has chronic kidney disease (CKD), their kidneys cannot eliminate phosphorus very well.

High phosphorus levels in the body can cause damage to the body and are more dangerous to a person’s health.

Higher levels of phosphorus can cause:


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