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Phosphorus (P) is a mineral that is present in many foods naturally and can also be taken as a supplement. It has many functions within the body. It is an essential component of cell membranes, teeth, and bones. It helps to activate enzymes and maintains a proper range for blood pH.

What Is Phosphorus? What Are The Functions Of P?

A mineral called phosphorus aids in the development of strong bones and teeth as well as the release of energy from food. As a component of DNA, RNA, and ATP, the body’s main energy source, phosphorus maintains the normal operation of muscles and nerves, including the heart. It also serves as a building block for our genes. P levels in the body are closely regulated by the kidneys, bones, and intestines.

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How Much Phosphorus Do I Need? What Are The Recommended Amounts?

Every day, adults require 550 mg of phosphorus. All the P you require should be included in your everyday diet.

RDA: For adult men and women aged 19 or older, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 700 mg per day. P needs throughout nursing and pregnancy are the same at 700 mg per day.

UL: The highest daily consumption that is not anticipated to have a negative impact on health is known as the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). The UL for phosphorus is 4,000 mg per day for adult males and women aged 19 to 70, and 3,000 mg per day for people 71 and above. The UL is 3,500 mg for nursing mothers and 4,000 mg for pregnant women between the ages of 14 and 50.

fish food

What Happens If There Is Excess Of Phosphorus?

Short-term use of high P supplement doses can result in diarrhea or stomach discomfort. Long-term use of high dosages can lower the body’s calcium levels, increasing the risk of bone fracture.

What Are The Food Sources Of Phosphorus? What Are Phosphorus in Food Containing P?

Many foods naturally contain P, but dairy, red meat, poultry, shellfish, legumes, and nuts are the largest sources. These foods contain what is referred to as organic phosphorus. Animal foods absorb it more effectively than plant foods do.

Phytates, also known as phytic acid, is phosphorus storage compounds found in plant foods including seeds, legumes, and whole grains that can inhibit the absorption of the mineral. (Source) Because the body lacks the enzyme necessary to break down phytic acid, it can attach to minerals other than phosphorus, including iron and zinc, as it passes through the digestive tract.

Good sources include:

Red meat

Dairy foods




Brown rice


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Deficiency Of Phosphorus: The Possible Disorder And Their Symptoms

Hypophosphatemia, which is indicated by P levels in the blood that are below normal, is a phosphorus deficiency. The majority of the body’s phosphorus is kept in bones and teeth, therefore blood levels of phosphate may not always reflect the overall quantity of P present.

The most frequent reasons for deficiency are issues with the kidneys or a condition called hyperparathyroidism, in which too much parathyroid hormone is generated and causes phosphorus to pass out of the body through the urine. Overusing antacids with aluminum can also bind to P and raise the risk of a deficit.


Refeeding syndrome, which affects persons with severe malnutrition, is a significant but uncommon cause of hypophosphatemia. Malnourished patients who have cancer, advanced liver disease, alcoholism, or anorexia nervosa may begin receiving extra nutrition through a tube or vein. 

Reintroducing nourishment can cause issues though, as their starvation has impaired their capacity to metabolise food effectively. Rapid changes in electrolytes and fluids in the blood are the result of a sudden inflow of nutrients and calories, which triggers an insulin surge. Magnesium, potassium, and other electrolyte nutrients’ blood levels may plummet suddenly.

Symptoms appearing with a phosphorus deficiency:

  • Poor appetite
  • Anemia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Bone disease (osteomalacia, rickets)
  • Confusion
  • Increased susceptibility to infections

Toxicity Of Phosphorus In Case Of Excess Of Phosphorus

Hyperphosphatemia, phosphorus toxicity, is uncommon since, in healthy people, the body will control any excess amounts. It might happen if you take supplements, but in general, people don’t take them very often, and the amount of phosphorus they usually contain isn’t very high.

A disruption in the normal metabolism of calcium can cause calcium deposits and the hardening of soft tissues in the body, including the kidney, in people with hyperphosphatemia. Some people with this condition may not exhibit any symptoms.

Check out the Functions of Vitamins and Minerals on Health Views Online – Food Nutrients section.