Phosphorus – The Body’s Second Most Abundant Mineral

Phosphorus is an element of the periodic table with symbol P and atomic number 15, and also the second most abundant mineral in the human body. The mineral is crucial for the production of energy in the body and an essential component of cellular membranes, and also helps a number of B complex vitamins to function effectively.

Phosphorus Symbol

The mineral is also important in bone and teeth health and is a critical part of the bone mineral complex in the form of hydroxyapatite. Most of the mineral in the body is in the form of phosphate ion which is the most abundant intracellular anion.

The major area of storage in the body of this mineral are the bones which contain 85% of the mineral, with approximately 15% in the cells of soft tissues, and about 0.1% in extracellular fluid. The mineral is an essential component of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the major energy source for all cells of the body, and is also a component of DNA, RNA, phospholipids in cellular membranes, and in lipoproteins.

Dietary Recommendations

Intake of this mineral typically exceeds the intake of calcium because phosphorus is so abundant in the food supply. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 700 milligrams/day, for adolescents 1,250 milligrams/day with the average intake for adults being between 1,000-1,500 milligrams/day.

Sources of the Mineral

Phosphorus is abundant in the food supply. Some of the foods that are rich in the mineral are also those rich in protein, which includes meat, poultry, eggs, and eggs.

Phosphorus Rich Foods

Too Much or Too Little Mineral

It is very rare for there to be too little of the mineral resulting in hypophosphatemia, and when it occurs it generally related to hyperparathyroidism due to a tumor, vitamin D deficiency or overuse of antacids. Common symptoms include anorexia, dizziness, bone pain, muscle weakness, and a gait that is considered waddling.

Too much of the mineral termed hyperphosphatemia is generally a consequence of kidney disease, an underactive parathyroid gland, too much vitamin D supplementation, and an overuse of laxatives containing phosphates. Some symptoms can be severe muscle spasms and convulsions.

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For other information on nutrition some great references are:

• Nutrition – Fourth Edition by Paul Insel, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, and Melissa Bernstein

• The Vitamin Alphabet – Your guide to vitamins, minerals and food supplements by Dr. Christiana Scott-Moncrieff MB, CHB, MFHOM

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