What is Phosphorus?
To function properly, the human body needs a wide range of minerals and vitamins, one of which is phosphorus. It is a macro-mineral and a fairly large amount of it is needed to maintain a balanced diet. However, its importance is often ignored in the crowd of nutrients that are available.
It is expected that you have heard of phosphorus. You perhaps do not know what relation it has to healthy living and your diet. It is a mineral found in an array of food such as fish, beans, cheese, and beer. Even though it is one of the most common substances available in your body and the environment, people do not know much about it.
There is a daily-recommended amount for everyone depending on age, but individuals often get their daily amount of phosphorous from a regular diet. Most abnormalities are caused when people consume too much of the nutrient. Causes of excess phosphorus in the human body include kidney disease, excessive phosphorus intake, and low calcium intake. Abnormalities in phosphorus level can also be contributed by health conditions like diabetes and alcoholism.
The daily recommended amount should not be taken lightly as a deficiency or excessive phosphorus can cause heart disease, fatigue, joint pain, or other medical complications.
Why is Phosphorus Necessary
The mineral plays a critical role in maintaining the health of bones, muscles, blood vessels, and cells. It assists the kidney during waste filtering and also helps body repair tissue and cells.
It can be described as a busy mineral, as it has so many functions. It works with calcium, fellow macro-mineral, to build bones and teeth. However, its task is not limited to that. The mineral also serves as the building block of your genetic material. In addition to many other important tasks, it helps you keep the heartbeat steady. Other important uses include maintenance of energy systems and removal of oxygen from red blood cells so that the tissues can use it.
It also assists the body to balance and use different vitamins and minerals. It contributes during muscle contraction and effectively reduces pain.
What are the Signs of Phosphorus Deficiencies?
Having low levels of phosphorus is quite uncommon in healthy individuals. However, it is possible that people suffering from alcoholism, celiac disease or diabetes may face symptoms of phosphorus deficiencies, also known as hypophosphatemia.
The deficiency can lead to many problems but the most significant impact takes place in individual’s energy systems, red blood cells, and skeleton.
Hypophosphatemia is a condition where the level of phosphorus in blood is lower than expected. It can cause your energy level to drop drastically and result in fatigue and muscle weakness. It will also reduce your tolerance for exercise.
If you have insufficient phosphorus, along with the low level of vitamin D and calcium, your body will become weaker over time. Your bones will become softer, and you may suffer from muscle and joint pain.
While it is recommended to pay special attention to the level of phosphorus in your system, you must also note that it can be a symptom of other disorders as well.
To summarize this section, hypophosphatemia can have the following consequences:
- Bone Damage: Bone health highly depends on the normal balance of phosphorus and calcium. Low phosphorus level can cause osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak and brittle. Osteomalacia is another bone disease that is a result of low levels of not only phosphorus but also calcium and vitamin D. While patients are prone to breaking bones in both conditions, the latter is accompanied with the potential to trigger permanent bone deformities.
- Fatigue: Phosphorus is one of the main components of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy currency. Hypophosphatemia compels the body to convert ATP to either adenosine diphosphate, or adenosine monophosphate, which have 2 and 1 phosphates respectively instead of 3. Reduced amount of phosphate leads the amount of energy produced to drop and therefore, individual may feel weakness and fatigue.
- Reduced Red Blood Cell Functions: The main duty of red blood cells is to deliver oxygen from to different tissues. The phosphorus component of hemoglobin helps release oxygen to tissues at the right time. Therefore, reduced phosphorus in the body means less oxygen is delivered to the tissues.
What are the Best sources of Phosphorus?
Getting the right amount of phosphorus is important but it is not difficult at all. You can get your daily requirement of the mineral from a wide range of food items. Below is list of some the best sources:
- Pork and Beef
- Low-fat Dairy
- Soya Foods
- Beans and Lentils
Seeds such as pumpkin and squash seeds are great sources for phosphate. You can get 1233mg of the mineral from 100g seeds. Which means 100 grams of either pumpkin seeds or squash seeds can suffice your phosphorus requirements.
In addition to enhancing the taste of any meal, cheese adds nutritional value. 100g of Romano cheese can provide 760mg phosphorus. You can also rely on other types of cheese like goat cheese, parmesan, non-fat mozzarella, gouda, cream cheese, gruyere and Swiss cheese, etc.
Even though most fishes are can serve as good source of phosphorous, Salmon is especially recommended. 100g of Salmon can provide 371mg of the nutrient. Other fishes like Carp, Tuna, Whitefish and Cod, Mackerel and American Shad also have Phosphorus.
Just 100g of Brazil nuts offer 725mg phosphorus. If you like Almonds, Cashews or Pistachios, you can have those too.
Pork and Beef:
You can get around 300mg phosphorus from 100g of lean sirloin (pork). In the case of beef, 100g of lean beef provide 286mg of the same macro-mineral.
Scallops and other shellfishes are high in phosphorus. 100g of cooked scallops have 426mg phosphorus in them.
Low-fat dairy is great for health. In addition to excellent taste, low-fat yogurt is a good source of phosphorus as well. 100gof yogurthave157mg phosphorus content.
Tofu and soybeans are also sources you might want to consider. 100g of tofu caters you with a phosphorus content of 287mg.
Beans and Lentils:
Adzuki, white beans, yellow beans, chickpeas, black turtle beans, kidney beans, etc. are all great ingredients if you want to increase phosphorus in your diet. 100g of lentils contain 180mg phosphorus.
Top 10 health benefits of Phosphorus
As you have read so far, phosphorus is a mineral with many talents. It helps the human body in so many ways that its availability in the right amount is critical for normal functioning. It is true that it is a blessing for many reasons, but some of the top reasons have been highlighted here:
- Plays significant role during bone formation
- Aids digestion of Niacin and Riboflavin
- Important for excretion and urination
- Reduces weakness, fatigue, and numbness
- Enhances Brain Function
- Essential for Protein Formation
- Plays an active role during cell repair
- Helps regulate hormone balance
- Aids energy extraction process
- Co-factor for many chemical reactions in body
1. Plays Significant Role During Bone Formation
As mentioned, phosphorus is very important for the growth process. Its role in the maintenance of bones and teeth is very significant. Along with calcium, it prepares the bones and teeth to resist wear and tear of daily life.
It boosts the health of your tooth enamel, gums and also tackles the serious concerns like bone loss.
2. Aids Digestion of Niacin and Riboflavin
In the human body, phosphorus is an important part of the digestion process. It stimulates efficient digestion of vitamins niacin and riboflavin. Niacin and riboflavin belong to the vitamin B family and are essential for smooth running of many things including energy metabolism, and neurological and emotional response systems.
In addition, phosphorus can alleviate problems like indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation. It tones the digestive system and enables healthy bowel movements. This improves the overall digestive system and enhances the health of the kidneys as toxins are removed from the body.
3. Important for Excretion and Urination
Phosphorus regulates the filtering of waste through excretion and urination. As the frequency and quantity of urination increases, the balance of uric acid, fat and salt in the body is maintained. Therefore, it can be said that phosphorous helps attain a toxin-free body.
4. Reduces Weakness, Fatigue, and Numbness
The mineral is known for its ability to eliminate problems like weakness, fatigue, numbness, etc. If you want to stay fit and active, it is advised to maintain a normal level of phosphorus. Adults generally need around 1200 mg.
If you follow this requirement, you may get relief from some problems related to sexual performance. So, the nutrient is a solution to the loss of libido, impotence,and frigidity. Sperm motility can be improved by including the right amount of phosphate in your body.
5. Enhances Brain Function
Phosphorous can be found around and inside brain cells. Having the right levels of phosphorous can guarantee proper brain function. It ensures cognitive growth and development.
In fact, studies suggest that phosphorus deficiency can increase the risk of cognitive malfunction. It can also prompt early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other neurological conditions.
6. Essential for Protein Formation
Phosphorus aids the creation of proteins, which is important for reproduction. It also enables the maximum utilization of proteins for proper growth and repair of cells. It has a similar impact on fats and carbohydrates in the human body.
The growth and maintenance of body are facilitated by the metabolism of proteins. This process is perhaps the most vital part of human metabolism, and so phosphorus’ assistance in protein formation is vital.
7. Plays an Active Role During Cell Repair
Phosphorus contributes to the process of repairing and maintaining different body cells after daily wear and tear. It makes sure that body cells are properly developed and active. The nutrient stimulates specific hormones to react and start the metabolic activity.
8. Helps Regulate Hormone Balance
There are hundreds of hormones in the human body and each one has a different purpose. Phosphorus serves as an irreplaceable component of the control system. Regulation of hormonal balance in the human body is another benefit provided by phosphorus. It ensures that reproductive health hormones, and any other hormones, are always available in correct amounts.
This is done by direct interaction with the body’s endocrine glands, which regulate the production and release of hormones.
9. Aids Energy Extraction Process
Phosphorus supports the energy extraction process by stimulating the metabolism of various nutrients. It also helps the flow of energy and promotes efficient use of energy by different organ systems.
10. Co-factor for Many Chemical Reactions
Phosphorus participates in a range of chemical reaction in the body as co-factor. It enables the right utilization of many nutrients.
Are There Any Side Effects of Taking Too Much Phosphorus?
Too much of anything is never good. This rule applies to phosphorus as well. Despite all the aforementioned benefits, if you consume more phosphate than recommended it can lead to some unpleasant consequences.
An excess amount of the mineral can be toxic. It can cause diarrhea. Among more severe consequences is the hardening of soft tissues and organs.
When the phosphorus level in the body is too high, it can combine with calcium in the blood and deposit in soft tissues and muscles. This causes them to harden. The macro-mineral can intervene and affect how the body uses zinc, magnesium, and iron. This often results in diarrhea.
Typically, this happens to those who suffer from kidney disease or dysfunction in how calcium is regulated. However, as modern day diets tend to be high in phosphorus, food intake can be a reason as well. It is very rare to have excess phosphorus in your blood stream but it is not impossible.
Are There Any Phosphorus Supplements?
Like most essential nutrients, supplements and medications are available to substitute Phosphorus. Phosphorus supplements are commonly used as laxatives. They are also prescribed as a treatment for urinary stones and urinary tract infections. They are also great for treating low mineral levels in people suffering from advanced malnutrition.
The supplement can help you if you have overactive parathyroid glands and excessive level of calcium. It may even help bone restoration.
Very few people need to rely on phosphorus supplements to meet daily phosphorus requirement as they can get it from the foods they eat.
Facts About Phosphorus
- In 1669, Hennig Brand discovered phosphorus by extracting the mineral from buckets of urine.
- Around 1% of a human’s total body weight is made of phosphorus.
- Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in your body. Calcium is the first.
- Phosphorus aids formation of proteins, and therefore, the basic building blocks of life: DNA and RNA.
- Children in their puberty need more phosphorus than adults.
- The mineral can help improve your sexual performance.
- Sometimes, it is called the “Devil’s Element.” This is because it was the 13th element discovered. The name also seems appropriate because of the element’s explosive properties. It is spontaneously combustible in air.
- You cannot find Phosphorus on its own in nature. It can only be found in different minerals. Most of the phosphorus reserves are in the Middle East.
The information herein is for general purposes only. It doesn’t
Phosphorus is an element with many advantages. While consumption of adequate amount can benefit you in many ways excessive phosphorus in your body can lead to severe consequences. Pay attention to your mineral intake and make changes accordingly. Do not ignore the symptoms of phosphorus deficiency as they can take dangerous form.