Phosphorus is second to calcium in terms of the most abundant mineral found in the body. Though primarily present in the bones and the teeth, it is also distributed to the cells. More than fifty percent of all bone consists of phosphate. The mineral is also found to help in maintaining fluids and healthy tissue.
Phosphorous Nutritional Benefits
Phosphorus has several key nutritional benefits, such as being useful in:
- The digestion of niacin
- The digestion of riboflavin
- Keeping body fluids neutral
- Proper kidney functioning
- The contraction of muscles, particularly the heart
- Forming enzymes
- Governing adequate cellular storage and release of energy to the body
- Controlling protein production
- Controlling gene patterns in DNA and RNA
The primary health benefit of phosphorus lies in its usefulness for the development of strong teeth and bones. However, the following are other key health benefits:
- Fights fatigue
- Increases endurance
- Increases energy
Symptoms of Deficiency
Phosphorus deficiencies aren’t generally found to exist since it is so abundant in food sources. However, in rare cases where a deficiency is developed due to a poor diet, the following symptoms may persist:
- Breathing difficulties
- A heavy feeling in the chest
- Chest pains
- Painful bones
- Heart palpitations
- Sensitive skin
- Unintended changes in weight
The following are the most common food sources by which phosphorus is directly gained:
- Whole grains
- Nuts, especially almonds
- Dried fruit
- Dairy products
- Brewer’s Yeast
- Fish, especially salmon
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Squash seeds
It should further be noted that vitamin D from dietary sources assist with the absorption of phosphorus.
Excessive amounts of phosphorus can interfere with calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium absorption. Most often this occurs when intake is increased to dangerously high levels through the consumption of soft drinks and other junk foods.
Ingesting more than 1 gram of phosphorus per day can lead to a toxicity, which can also induce diarrhea and a calcification of the soft tissues and/or of the organs.
Women over the age of 60, particularly those taking calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, should be advised that large amounts of calcium interfere with the body’s ability to absorb phosphorus. It is therefore recommended, that the advice of a health professional be sought to determine the proper amounts of supplementation needed in order to maintain a proper balance of each.
Although supplementation may sometimes be necessary, the best way to assure proper levels and adequate absorption of phosphorus, is to seek to gain this essential mineral through the dietary sources cited above. Whichever method of gaining phosphorus is preferred, it is important that people are educated on its function and its necessity to the body. As are other minerals, phosphorus is particularly needed for the body’s purification, cleansing, as well as for natural cures and home remedies. It should, therefore, be recognized and properly maintained through a healthy diet and exercise.