Phosphorus: Essential Nutrition for All Body Cells - dummies

Phosphorus: Essential Nutrition for All Body Cells

By Christopher Hobbs, Elson Haas

Phosphorus is an essential macromineral, meaning to be healthy you must include this nutrient in your diet. Dietary sources include almost all foods. Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral nutrient in the body, after calcium.

This mineral is part of all cells, especially cell membranes, and is essential to bone strength, because it’s the main structural component of bones and teeth, as calcium phosphate. Phosphorus is also an important element in energy production.

Key functions of phosphorus:

  • Functions in bones and teeth and in cell energy production. Your main energy-storage molecule, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) contains phosphorus.

  • Helps synthesize protein and is part of phospholipids (fat molecules), such as lecithin, which cells use to make membranes.

Almost all foods contain phosphorus, but the amounts of phosphorus are greater in animal products and high-protein foods like meats, fowl, fish, eggs, and dairy. Nuts, seeds, and many vegetables are rich in phosphorus as well.

Phosphorus is a required mineral. Adults need about 800 mg daily.

Sodas and other drinks containing phosphoric acid may cause excessive amounts of phosphorus intake, which can interfere with proper calcium metabolism. The optimum calcium to phosphorus ratio is approximately 1:1, but in the average American diet, that ratio commonly varies between 1:2 and 1:4.

Phosphorus deficiency and toxicity are not very predominant; excesses of phosphorus may alter calcium balance, and phosphorus deficiency may lead to energy and metabolic problems.