Phosphorus Overview, Health Benefits, Source Food, Deficiency, Side effects

Phosphorus Overview, Health Benefits, Source Food, Deficiency, Side effects

Phosphorus Overview

Phosphorus is an essential macro-mineral.  It is one of the most abundant minerals in the body.  It normally makes up about 1% of total body weight.

All cells in the body require phosphorus and this element is an essential mineral for the normal functioning of the human body. Almost all the phosphorus in the human body is found as one of the chemical forms of phosphorous called phosphate - PO4-ions. The human skeletal system contains approximately 85% of the body's total phosphorus with the rest involved in different biochemical functions in the human body, is bound with calcium to form bones and teeth.  Calcium phosphate is the major mineral component of bones.

Our bodies need a balance of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.  If this balance is not maintained, our health is affected.  Phosphorus is absorbed in the small intestine, and excess is excreted by the kidneys.

Apart from providing strength to bones and teeth, other health benefits of phosphorus are essential for performing essential activities for different body parts like the brain, kidney, heart and blood. Therefore, it is a very bad choice for your health to exclude phosphorus from the list of nutrients that make it onto your plate.

Causes  and Symptoms of Phosphorus Deficiency

A dangerous demineralization of the bones is induced by a deficiency of phosphorus; a deficiency during development also causes the formation of defective bones in children and teenagers. There is a direct correlation between vitamin D and phosphorous, as the vitamin regulates the absorption of phosphorus from the food, this mineral is also involved in the intake of calcium; therefore a vitamin D deficiency can cause a deficiency of phosphorus as well.

Also, certain medications, for example antacids with calcium or magnesium or aluminium, can bind with phosphorus in the intestine, and interfere with its absorption.  Some anti-convulsants may lower phosphate levels too.

Several disease states also cause a deficiency of phosphorus, these include pathologies such as alcoholism, problems related to malabsorption, problems related to diabetic ketoacidosis as well as sepsis and renal defects.

Disorders like hyperthyroidism, osteoporosis due to disuse and hyperparathyroidism can also cause a phosphorous deficiency. A depletion of the mineral phosphorous can also be induced by long term intravenous glucose therapy and the constant use of antacids.

Deficiency Symptoms of Phosphorus

  • poor bone formation and growth
  • impaired bone mineralization that causes rickets in children (softening of bones that result in skeletal problems such as knock-knees, bowed legs, spinal curvature, narrowed chest, and soft skull bones)
  • osteomalacia (adult rickets) that causes bones to be soft and prone to fractures, and symptomized by deformities in the spine and limbs, and rheumatic or arthritic-like pain
  • numbness and tingling of the extremities (hands and feet)
  • difficulty walking
  • increased susceptibility to infection
  • fatigue or muscle weakness
  • anemia
  • loss of appetite and changes to weight
Along with all of these foul symptoms, a deficiency of phosphorus may also invite numbness, anxiety, tremors, weight loss and stunted growth. Death is the eventual result of long term severe hypophosphatemia unless treatment is given to the affected individual. Dietary phosphorous deficiencies tend to be seen only in cases of near or absolute starvation, this is due to the widespread availability of the mineral in the average diet. Certain people are more susceptible to developing hypophosphatemia, the risk of this condition is higher in alcoholics, many diabetics who are recovering from an episode of diabetic ketoacidosis are also at risk, also at risk are many starving or anorexic patients put on re-feeding regimens using foods that are high in calories but low in their phosphorus content.

Lack of phosphorus in kids can be quite dangerous as it can actually stunt their growth.

Good food sources of Phosphorus

Since all living organisms on the earth need phosphorus as a critical component in many physiological functions, the mineral is found in most foods and there is consequently no lack of dietary sources for the mineral. Good sources of the mineral phosphorus include all kinds of dairy products, all meats and poultry, nuts and fishes.

Phosphorus in seeds like nuts, peas, beans and grains, is in a form known as phytic acid or phytate which hinders its absorbability so that only about half the phosphorus can be taken in by the body.

Foods high in phosphorus are · cheese · milk · meat · legumes (adzuki beans, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, yellow beans, lentils) · whole grains (wheat, oats, millet, quinoa, brown rice, corn, rye). 

Moderately high phosphorus foods include · asparagus · brewer's yeast · dried fruit · eggs · fish · garlic · nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, walnuts) · pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds · rice bran.

In addition, to the excellent sources of phosphorus just mentions, the mineral is also found in many polyphosphate food additives as a major component. Processed food and soft drinks are high in added phosphates but these are in a form best avoided as they appear to cause de-calcification of bones. Most databases on food do not list dietary phosphorus derived from food additives and the minerals in such additives is normally not calculated, therefore there is no clarity about the total amount of phosphorus consumed by the average person in the U.S. The average intake of phosphorus intake by men in the U.S was found to be 1,495 mg a day as per the results of a large nutrient consumption survey carried out some time ago - the average intake of phosphorus intake in women was 1,024 mg/daily, men generally consumed higher amounts of the mineral than did women as per the results. It is estimated by the Food and Nutrition Board that the consumption of phosphorus in the U.S. has increased from 10% to 15% over the past 20 years across all age groups and sexes.

A biochemical storage form of phosphate called phytic acid or phytate is the chemical form of phosphorus present in all plant seed - for example, beans, peas, cereals and all nuts contain this form of the element. Humans can utilize approximately fifty percent of the phosphorus from the chemical form of phosphorous called phytate as the human body lacks the enzymes - called phytases alter phytates into phosphorous ions which can be utilized by the body in physiological processes. Phytases are also found in yeasts, therefore there is more phosphorous made bio-available in whole grains incorporated into leavened breads than there is in whole grains incorporated into breakfast cereals or used to make unleavened flat breads of all kinds.

Phosphorus Supplements

Taking vitamins and minerals in their correct balance is vital to the proper functioning of all vitamins.  They work synergistically, which means that the effectiveness of any one nutrient requires, or is enhanced, sometimes dramatically, by the presence of certain other nutrients.

For this reason, if you are looking to take supplements for maintenance of optimal health, the recommended approach is to take a multi-vitamin that has the proper balance of all the necessary nutrients your body needs.

For a list of reputable top ranked vitamin and mineral supplements chosen in an independent supplement review. Many of these are manufactured to pharmaceutical or nutraceutical GMP compliance, which is the highest multivitamin standard possible.

Keep in mind, however, that while mineral supplements are useful to plug nutritional gaps that are almost inevitable in modern diets, and to ensure we get optimal doses of nutrients, they are no substitute for a good diet. Instead, use them to complement a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Health benefits of Phosphorus

All cells in the body require phosphorus and this element is an essential mineral for the normal functioning of the human body. Almost all the phosphorus in the human body is found as one of the chemical forms of phosphorous called phosphate - PO4-ions. The human skeletal system contains approximately 85% of the body's total phosphorus with the rest involved in different biochemical functions in the human body.

Phosphorus is required by the body for bone and teeth formation. Calcium alone can't build strong bones and tissues. New research shows calcium needs phosphorus to maximize its bone-strengthening benefits, and taking a lot of calcium supplements without enough phosphorus could be a waste of money.

Health benefits of Phosphorus for Bone Formation

Phosphorus is a vital part of the growth process, as well as the maintenance of bones and teeth. It works in association with calcium to create strong bones, which can withstand the normal wear and tear of human life. It also helps in boosting the health of your gums and tooth enamel. It also helps in relieving serious problems like bone loss or the loss of mineral density, also known as osteoporosis. This mineral lays the foundation of a strong skeletal structure to ensure health and functional living. One of the recent discoveries of phosphorous also link it to heart health, meaning that with a proper intake, you can better protect yourself from a range of cardiovascular diseases.

Health benefits of Phosphorus for Digestion

Phosphorus plays an important role in facilitating effective digestion in the human body. It does this by stimulating the digestion of riboflavin and niacin in an efficient way. These two vitamins are also essential for human health, so any way that their uptake can be maximized is a good thing. These two varieties of vitamin B are responsible for everything from energy metabolism to neurological and emotional response systems. Beyond the uptake of other vitamins and minerals, phosphorous directly clears up indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and generally tones up the digestive system for regular, healthy bowel movements. This increases the health of the digestive system, as well as that of the kidneys, since the toxins are being eliminated from the body, rather than recycling through the kidneys and stressing that system.

Health benefits of Phosphorus for formation and structure of the nucleic acids -DNA and RNA

Phosphorous also takes part in the formation and structure of the nucleic acids -DNA and RNA), these nucleic acids are responsible for the storage and transmission of genetic information and make up the genes and chromosomes in the human body, nucleic acids can be described as long chains of phosphate containing molecules. The activation of a large number of molecules such as enzymes, hormones and many of the molecules involved in cell signaling depend on phosphorylation reactions. The maintenance of a normal acid-base balance (pH) in the body is also largely dependent on phosphorus and this mineral has a role as one of the body's most vital physiological buffers. Oxygen delivery to cells and tissues is also regulated by the actions of the phosphorus containing molecule 2, 3-diphosphoglycerate-2, 3-DPG, which binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells during oxygen transport processes in the blood.

Health benefits of Phosphorus for Excretion and Urination

Phosphorus plays an important role in keeping the kidneys healthy. It does this by ensuring the proper release of waste from kidneys through the process of urination and excretion. By increasing the quantity and frequency of urination, the body is able to balance its levels of uric acid, excess salts, water, and even fat, since urine is usually about 4% fat. Phosphorous encourages the healthy balance of all fluids and materials that are eliminated from the body, thereby helping the entire body remain healthy and toxin-free.


Health benefits of Phosphorus for Weakness

Phosphorous has the ability to remove minor health problems like muscle weakness, numbness, fatigue and similar ailments. Normal levels of phosphorous in the body are a great way to remain fit and active. A normal amount can be approximately 1200 mg for adults, according to experts and from suggestions of various health practitioners. Sexual weakness can also be cured with healthy supplementation of phosphorous into the body, so issues like loss of libido, frigidity, impotence, and sperm motility can be boosted by having an adequate supply of phosphorus in your system.

Health benefits of Phosphorus for Brain Function

Since phosphorous is an essential element found around as well as inside the cells of the brain, it is obviously responsible for important functions. Proper levels of phosphorous guarantee proper brain function and cognitive growth and development. Studies have linked a phosphorus deficiency to an increased risk of cognitive malfunction, and the early onset of neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Health benefits of Phosphorus for Cell Repair

Phosphorus also contributes to the repair process and maintenance of various body cells which suffer from daily wear and tear. It ensures that body cells are developed properly and remain active for impressive overall health. This contribution mainly comes in the form of helping to create protein and stimulating the correct hormones to react accordingly around the body to stimulate metabolic activity.

Health benefits of Phosphorus for Energy Extraction

Phosphorus is the body's source of phosphate, which helps create and manage energy, synthesize protein, fat and carbohydrates, contract muscles, and maintain the body's fluid and electrolyte balance. It is also essential for stimulating hormone production and helping the body utilize the B vitamins. It combines with calcium to help form the latticework for strong bones and teeth. Over 80% of the body's phosphorus is located in bone. A proper balance of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus should be maintained at all times.

Phosphorus Side effects and cautions

The absorption of dietary phosphorous is reduced significantly by the consumption of aluminum containing antacids by the continual formation of aluminum phosphate, a compound that is not absorbable by the body. Aluminum containing antacids consumed in high doses can also lead to the development of abnormally low phosphate levels in the blood-ending in the disorder called hypophosphatemia, such as situation may also aggravate a pre-existing deficiency of phosphate attributable to other causative factors. The total serum phosphate levels can be significantly reduced by the use of as little as an ounce of aluminum hydroxide gel thrice daily for several weeks - this can also lead to an increase in the loss of calcium in the urine. The disorder called hyperphosphatemia can also develop on the consumption of very high doses of calcitriol, which is the active form of the vitamin D; the use of chemical analogs of calcitriol can also induce this disorder.

Excess phosphorus can cause hyperphosphatemia or high blood phosphate levels.

A common reason for this is over-consumption of foods high in phosphorus, such as canned, processed, or fast foods, or soft drinks.  Many of these have phosphates added to extend shelf life or enhance flavors, especially in baked products, cheeses, meats, and drinks.

A deficiency in calcium or magnesium may lead to excess blood phosphate. At the same time, high levels of phosphorus interfere with calcium uptake, which, if coupled with a low calcium diet over a long period, increases the risks of bone density loss, hypertension, and bowel cancer.

Hyperphosphatemia can also occur in people with impaired kidney function. Healthy kidneys remove excess phosphorus from the blood.  People with chronic kidney diseases are unable to get rid of extra phosphorus, and are at risk of heart and bone diseases, and even death.

As noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association, such patients need to avoid foods high in phosphorus (see Food Sources), and especially fast foods and soft drinks.

Too much phosphorus can cause serious electrolyte imbalances.  It draws calcium out of bones and weakens them, leading to brittle bones.  Excess calcium and phosphorus together may result in harmful calcium deposits or calcification, in soft tissues such as the lungs, heart, muscles, eyes, blood vessels, and especially the kidneys.

Combination of phosphate supplements with high doses of potassium supplements or with the use of potassium sparing diuretics can result in very high levels of potassium - hyperkalemia - in the blood, this is a dangerous disorder. The disorder called hyperkalemia can lead to life threatening heart rhythm abnormalities - arrhythmias - in the person and this is indeed a serious health issue. The serum potassium levels of individuals using such a supplemental combination needs to be checked on a regular basis and they must ensure their health care provider is informed of the supplementation regimen -ideally combined supplements where necessary must be carried out under medical supervision.