Phosphorus is a nutrient (an essential macro-mineral) occurring in tissues and foods as phosphate (salts of phosphoric acid), phospholipids, and phosphoproteins. In the body most (80%) is present in the skeleton and teeth as calcium phosphate (hydroxyapatite); the remainder is in the phospholipids of cell membranes, in nucleic acids, and in a variety of metabolic intermediates, including ATP. The parathyroid hormone controls the concentration of phosphate in the blood, mainly by modifying its excretion in the urine.

Adult needs (about 1.3?g per day) are always met. The calcium to phosphate ratio of infant foods is, however, important. Phosphate deficiency is common in livestock and gives rise to osteomalacia (also known as sweeny or creeping sickness).

Foods High in Phosphorus

Grilled cheese sandwich, 1 531 mg
Macaroni and cheese, 1 cup 322 mg
Milkshake, vanilla, 10 oz. 289 mg
Milk, 2 %, 1 cup 232 mg
Pizza, 1/8 of 15" diameter 216 mg
Split pea soup, 1 cup 213 mg
Ham, 3 oz. 210 mg
Ice milk, soft serve, 1 cup 202 mg
Oatmeal, 1 cup 178 mg
Lentils, cooked, 1/2 cup 178 mg
Cheese, cheddar, 1 oz. 146 mg
Shrimp, boiled, 2 large 137 mg
Baked beans, white, 1/2 cup 137 mg
Ground beef, 3 oz. 135 mg
Potato, baked with skin, 1 115 mg
Egg, 1 86 mg
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice 74 mg
Romaine lettuce, 1 cup 25 mg
Cauliflower, fresh, 1/2 cup 23 mg

Phosphorus has more functions than any other mineral in your body. Eighty to eighty five percent of all the phosphorus in your body is in your bones and teeth in the form of calcium phosphate. The 1 1/2 - 2 pounds of phosphorus in your body helps to keep your bones and teeth strong. Phosphorus is important to your bones for another reason. Phosphorus is vital to collagen production and bone is 3/4 collagen. Tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, and eyes, are composed greatly of collagen. Without phosphorus, your body could not make any of the above vital connective tissues and organs.

Phosphorus joins up with fatty acids in the body to form phospholipids. Phospholipids have a very interesting characteristic: they are soluble in water and fat. The fatty acid makes phospholipids soluble in fat and the phosphorus makes it soluble in water. This unique trait makes phospholipids very useful as the main component in cell membranes. This allows for fat and water soluble nutrients to pass in and out of the cell. Each cell needs fat and water soluble nutrients to live, so this property is vital. Cell membranes would collapse without phospholipids.

Phospholipids also have a job in the blood. Phospholipids keep blood fat in small globules. Large globules can get stuck on artery walls, which can eventually cause heart disease. Lecithin is a phospholipid used in chocolate to keep it smooth. In the body, phospholipids keep the blood smooth.

Lecithin helps to make bile at an even rate. Bile helps you emulsify fats (break into very small globules). If you don't have enough phosphorus, you can't make lecithin to help make bile, which results in painful gallstones. Lecithin helps to keep fat from accumulating in the liver (cirrhosis).

Phosphorus helps to transport fatty acids throughout your body. It maintains the proper pH in blood and stomach so the needed reactions can take place. Phosphorus has to be present to use fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Phosphorus combines with carbohydrates to be stored as energy. Phosphorus is a MAIN component in ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the primary source of energy for all living cells. Without ATP, you could not catalyze any reaction. Phosphorus is needed in myelin, which is the fatty covering on nerves to help the impulses travel faster. Phosphorus fatty acid compounds make up 1/3 of the brain's dry weight. Muscles could not contract without phosphorus because the nerves could not properly transmit the impulse without myelin. The muscle would not have the energy to contract without phosphorus containing ATP.

The RDA for phosphorus is identical to that of calcium: 1200 mg until 24 and from then on 800 mg a day.

In a healthy varied diet, we easily get enough phosphorus. Phosphorus is added to processed and refined foods in large quantities. If you eat a lot of processed foods, then you should watch your phosphorus intake so you don't get too much.

You should be careful when eating fresh foods because they could be covered with a arsenic compound containing pesticides. Arsenic and phosphorus are very similar in molecular structure. So similar, in fact, that your body thinks it is phosphorus and puts it in compounds. These compounds of course don't work. This is especially dangerous when you think about phosphorus's role in myelin and cell membranes.

Phosphorus deficiency is very rare by itself. It is usually accompanied by calcium deficiency. As a result, the signs for phosphorus deficiency are almost identical to those of calcium deficiency. Most people get way too much phosphorus, though, so it's not one of those nutrients you can easily be deficient in.

Food and Fitness: phosphorus

A non-metallic element which is an essential component of the diet. It is a constituent of many vital compounds in the body, including ATP, DNA, and phospholipids (see separate entries), but it is found mainly in bones. Vitamin D and calcium regulate the availability of phosphorus for bone formation. Most meats and fish are rich sources of phosphorus; deficiencies lead to rickets and poor growth, but this is rare compared with the effects of calcium and vitamin D deficiency on bone development.

Veterinary Dictionary: phosphorus

A chemical element, atomic number 15, atomic weight 30.974, symbol P. Phosphorus is an essential element in the diet. In the form of phosphates it is a major component of the mineral phase of bone and is involved in almost all metabolic processes. It also plays an important role in cell metabolism. It is obtained by the body from milk products, cereals, meat and fish, and its use by the body is controlled by vitamin D and calcium.

* p.-32 — a radioisotope of phosphorus having a half-life of 14.3 days and emitting only beta rays; used in the form of sodium phosphate P-32 for treatment of polycythemia vera, chronic myelocytic leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and in localizing certain tumors during surgery. Symbol 32P.

* calcium:p. ratio — see calcium: phosphorus ratio.

* inorganic p. — any phosphorus-containing compound which does not also contain carbon.

* p. nutritional deficiency — causes rickets in the young and osteomalacia in adult ruminants. In less severe deficiency states there is pica, growth retardation, infertility and possibly retention of placenta. See also postparturient hemoglobinuria. An unlikely nutritional deficiency in carnivores.

* p. poisoning — is very rare because of the absence of elemental phosphorus from the environment. Causes severe gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhea. If the animal survives the gastroenteritis there is a subsequent acute hepatic insufficiency.

* p. restriction — indicated in the dietary management of chronic renal disease and secondary hyperaparathyroidism; in dogs and cats, usually accomplished by reducing the content of meat.

* p. supplements — supplementing the diets of animals exposed to phosphorus deficient feeds is usually achieved by feeding bone meal, or calcium or sodium phosphates. All are readily assimilable but none are palatable and special devices are often necessary to get animals to take required amounts. See also dietary phosphate.

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