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?
- 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.
- Dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Legumes, beans, and peas
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.
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:
- Anti-seizure drugs
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (blood pressure medication)
- Cardiac glycosides
- Cyclosporine (used to suppress the immune system)
- Heparins (blood thinners)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Advil (ibuprofen)
Symptoms of low phosphorus levels include:
What happens if phosphorus is in excess in the body?
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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