Phosphorus | A Forgotten but Important Nutrient

by Shamsul
Benefits of Phosphorus
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Phosphorus | An Important Nutrient

Phosphorus is a trace mineral that often goes unnoticed. However, it is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium!

This nutrient is to thank you for your smile but also for the structure of your cell membranes and the contraction of your muscles.

Like magnesium, phosphorus is considered a “macro mineral.” This means its recommended daily intake is much higher than that of “micro minerals” such as zinc.

The body is an intelligent machine that regulates its absorption of phosphorus according to its content. For example, in cases of deficiency (which is rare, by the way), the kidneys excrete less phosphorus in the urine, and the bones release their reserves into the blood.

Additionally, since it is closely related to calcium, less calcium absorption results in better assimilation and vice versa. And to properly absorb, you must ensure you consume enough vitamin D.

So, what is phosphorus used for in the body? What are the best sources? What is the recommended daily intake – and can you get too much? Should you take supplements? Here’s what you need to know.

What are the Roles and Benefits of Phosphorus?

Phosphorus’s primary function is to ensure the integrity of bones and teeth—in fact, this is where we find approximately 85% of the phosphorus in the body. By working in concert with calcium, it helps maintain bone mineral density.

However, the roles of phosphorus continue beyond that. He is also involved in:

1- Maintaining blood pH

2- DNA synthesis

3- Tissue repair

4- Kidney function

5- Energy production

6- Regulation of nerve function

7- Muscle contraction

8- The structure of cell membranes

9- Macronutrient synthesis (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids)

10- Finally, phosphorus also acts as an essential electrolyte, just like sodium and potassium.

The multiple functions of phosphorus provide various benefits. For example, its involvement in bone mineralization means that it contributes to strong bones. It also helps with the body’s detoxification (the elimination of waste) through its role in kidney function. It also contributes to the overall balance of the body by maintaining blood pH, regulating the nervous system, and being a constituent of cells.

What are the Best Sources of Phosphorus?

Phosphorus is abundant (and best absorbed) in foods of animal origin, such as:

1- Offal (beef liver)

2- Chicken and Turkey

3- Pork and Beef

4- Certain fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna)

5- Clams and scallops

6- Dairy products (milk, yogurt, fresh cheeses such as cottage and ricotta)

7- To properly absorb phosphorus, you must consume enough vitamin D.

Phosphorus is also found in several plants. However, most of these contain phytic acid, reducing its absorption. However, part of the plant’s phosphorus is absorbed and can be used to meet the daily needs for this mineral.

Plant germination, soaking, and fermentation reduce their phytic acid content and, therefore, increase the bioavailability of their phosphorus.

Plant Sources of Phosphorus Include:

1- Certain legumes (lentils, chickpeas, white beans)

2- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, chia, sesame)

3- Certain nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts)

4- Certain whole grains (spelt, quinoa, oats)

5- Certain soy products (tempeh, soybeans, tofu)

6- Potatoes with the peel

Synthetic, or inorganic phosphorus, is also contained in foods that contain phosphates as food additives. These, including sodium phosphate and phosphoric acid, improve the texture of processed products such as:

1- Soft drinks, sweetened iced tea, fruity drinks

2- Commercial pastries (muffins, pancake mixes, cookies, etc.)

3- Processed meats (hot dogs, pepperoni, bologna, etc.)

4- Fast food meals

5- Frozen meals (kibbles, pizzas, etc.)

Phosphorus obtained from phosphate does not provide the same benefits as from unprocessed foods. However, as phosphate has a high bioavailability, it is much better absorbed. Excess amount can lead to excessively high level in the body (the dangers of excessive are described below).

For example, a single can of soft drink can provide up to 500 mg of phosphate!

Additionally, processed foods provide few nutrients, are full of additives, and can contribute to diabetes and obesity. We can consume them occasionally, but they should not constitute our main source of phosphorus.

How Much Phosphorus Should You Consume Per Day?

Health experts recommend the following daily intakes.

Girls and boys aged 9 to 18: 1250 mg

Women and men aged 18 and over: 700 mg

For comparison, here is the amount of phosphorus found in 10 common foods:

Food Serving Size Phosphorus Content Percentage DV

Pumpkin seeds, shelled and dried 35 g (¼ cup) 432 mg 62%

Beef liver, cooked 85 g (3 oz) 412 mg 59%

Shelled and roasted sunflower seeds 32 g (¼ cup) 375 mg 54%

Cooked lentils 200 g (1 cup) 356 mg 51%

Cooked chicken breast 85 g (3 oz)

283 mg 40%

Cooked quinoa 185 g (1 cup) 281 mg 40%

Cooked lean pork chops 85 g (3 oz) 257 mg 37%

Tempeh 85 g (3 oz) 226 mg 32%

2% milk 250 mL (1 cup) 225 mg 32%

Canned tuna in water 85 g (3 oz) 116 mg 17%

Recipes Rich in Phosphorus

Obtaining enough amount through food is simple. Here are recipes that provide a palpable dose of phosphorus.

1- Omnivorous Recipes Rich in Phosphorus

2- Roast chicken, garlic and lemon

3- Beef flank steak in white wine gratinated in the air fryer

4- Maple Grilled Salmon Fillets

5- Calf’s liver Lyonnaise style

6- Scallop and strawberry carpaccio

7- Pork Chops with Honey Mustard Sauce

8- Italian quinoa salad

9- Tuna, ricotta, and parmesan meatballs

The Main Function of Phosphorus Is to Ensure the Integrity of Bones and Teeth

1- Vegetarian and vegan recipes high in phosphorus

2- Indian lentil croquettes

3- Slow Cooker Vegan Molasses Beans

4- Humus

5- Butternut squash stuffed with quinoa and lentils

6- Savory quinoa breakfast bowl

7- Honey and lime tempeh skewers

8- Tamari Almonds and Pumpkin Seeds

9- Healthy Cranberry Breakfast Patties

10- Almond and tahini cookies

Who is At Risk?

What are the Symptoms of Phosphorus Deficiency?

Deficiency is rare in nations where malnutrition is not a widespread problem. However, certain groups are at risk of being deficient in phosphorus, including people with the following conditions:

1- Chronic alcoholism

2- Kidney problems

3- Hypothyroidism

4- Hyperparathyroidism

5- Vitamin D deficiency

6- Malnutrition

7- Anorexia

Symptoms of Phosphorus Deficiency Include:

1- Loss of appetite

2- Fatigue

3- Bone pain

4- Muscle weakness

5- Numbness

6- Confusion

7- Anxiety

Serious deficiency, called hypophosphatemia, is characterized by blood levels below normal. If left untreated, it can lead to broken bones and seizures. Fortunately, such a situation is an exception, given the rarity deficiency in Western countries.

Should I Take A Phosphorus Supplement?

The vast majority of the population does not need to obtain supplements, given the prevalence of this mineral in a host of foods (natural and processed). Taking supplement form, when not necessary, can cause more harm than good – more on this in the next section.

In addition, certain medications can reduce the level of phosphorus in the body, for example:

1- Insulin

2- Ace inhibitors (to treat high blood pressure)

3- Corticosteroids

4- Antacids

5- Anticonvulsants

6- Diuretics

7- Calcium supplements

People with Kidney Failure Should Limit Their Phosphorus Intake.

If you are in the risk groups listed above or taking a medication that can lower your body’s phosphorus level, your doctor may prescribe a supplement.

You need to always consult a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

Can We Consume Too Much Phosphorus?

Yes, excess phosphorus is possible but it can lead to unpleasant complications.

The tolerable maximum phosphorus intake is 4,000 mg daily (this limit increases to 3,000 mg per day for those aged 71 and over).

Although the body is able to regulate the amount of phosphorus it contains (for example, by excreting more through urine if it does not need it), too much phosphorus, called hyperphosphatemia, can still occur. Although rather rare, this type of situation can be caused by inadequate supplementation or high consumption of processed foods rich in phosphates (food additives). Abuse of phosphate-based laxatives can also cause hyperphosphatemia.

Excess Phosphorus in The Body Can Cause:











The information in this article is provided for your informational purposes only and will allow you to ask your doctor-informed questions. Under no situation can they replace the advice of a health professional. Our editorial team and experts do everything possible to provide quality information. However, Wiselancer can only be held responsible if the content of an article proves to be incomplete or not updated. It is strongly suggested that you consult a doctor if you have a health problem.

Sources: Harvard Nutrition / Healthline /

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