Power of Phosphorus – Why This Electrolyte Is Vital For Healthy Bones, Muscles and Kidneys
Important and most abundant, yet seldom we think about it. We must have heard about calcium, vitamin and potassium, but hardly we know about phosphorus, an essential mineral that performs several cellular activities in our body. Let’s learn about this mineral and what are the risks of deficiency and overdose of phosphorus.
Phosphorus – Why it’s crucial for health?
Do you know after calcium, phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in our body? So abundant that it makes up 0.5 percent of the total body of an infant and 1 percent of an adult body. We need phosphorus for many bodily functions including the maintenance of skeletal structure and vital organs such as brain, kidneys, heart, and liver.
Phosphorus is a powerful workhorse. It performs functions including:
Detoxification of the body
Kidneys which are natural laboratory of human body takes the help of phosphorus to remove the waste molecules from the blood. Moreover, for maintaining the balance of sodium, uric acid, fat, and water within the body, kidneys need electrolytes such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Maintenance of strong bones
Calcium and phosphorus are two major minerals that maintain the skeletal structure and strength in the body. In fact, over half of the bones are made of phosphate. Phosphorus also helps in the formation of mineral density in bones to prevent them from fractures and breaks. Both calcium and phosphorus levels should be balanced.
Maintains energy levels
Phosphorus has the responsibility of absorbing and regulating B vitamins, which are vital for energy production. These vitamins also affect neurotransmitter and maintains positive mood. Besides, phosphorus also helps control muscle movement by supporting the transmission of nerve impulses.
Responsible for healthy growth and contributes to production of DNA and RNA
Without adequate phosphorus, toddlers and teenagers can face developmental problems. During pregnancy, it plays a vital role in the production of DNA and RNA, the two major genetic building blocks. Phosphorus is also needed for growth and repair of tissues and cells.
Helps in muscle contraction and proper heartbeat
Phosphorus contributes in effective movement and contraction of muscles. It also helps in keeping normal heart rhythm.
How much phosphorus do we need? Daily recommended intake
The amount of phosphorus our body needs depend on the age. The Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University suggests following intake for children and adults.
- Infants 0-6 months -100 mg
- Infants 7-12 months - 275 mg
Children and teenagers
- Children 1-3 years - 460 mg
- Children 4-8 years - 500 mg
- Children 9-18 years - 1,250 mg
Adult men and women
- Adults 19 years and above - 700 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding women
Phosphorus needs are the same for all women throughout adulthood. There is no specific dietary intake for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Why Calcium Is Crucial For Bone Health? What Are The Other Benefits of Calcium
Risks of too much and too little phosphorus in the body
Most of the people get the required amount of phosphorus through their daily diet and do not need supplements. In fact, there are more chances of too much of phosphorus as compared to deficiency. However, certain conditions such as kidney disease or taking supplements rich in phosphorus may lead to excess of this mineral in the body.
On the contrary, deficiency of phosphorus can occur due to certain health conditions such as alcoholism and diabetes or taking certain medications such as antacids, insulin, and corticosteroids. But in most cases, too much or too little phosphorus is a rare phenomenon.
Side effects of phosphorus overdose
- When there is too much of phosphate in the body, it can be toxic enough to cause diarrhea and harden your organs and other soft tissues.
- Excess of phosphorus may also affect the ability of the body to make effective use of essential minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium.
Side effects of phosphorus deficiency
- Weak bones
- Changes in appetite
- Trouble exercising
- Trouble concentrating
- Developmental problems
For people who take medications, they must talk to a doctor before resorting to high phosphorus diets.
Foods rich in phosphorus
Foods that are high in calcium are also mostly high in phosphorus. Our daily diet contains enough phosphorus that we don’t have to go for supplements or other sources. Non-veg foods are typically high in phosphorus but there are also foods for vegetarians that contains decent amount of this mineral. Here we have drawn a list of phosphorus-rich veg and non-veg foods.
Non-veg foods high in phosphorus
Beef (Bade ka meat)
Lean beef contains high amount of phosphorus. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus in red meat is about 10 to 20 times. But consuming high amount of beef can cause an imbalance of these two minerals.
Dietary intake – 100 grams of beef serving will provide 198 mg of phosphorus. This is 28 percent of the total daily dietary intake mentioned above.
This is perhaps a favorite of many non-vegetarians. Chicken is filled with protein that helps in muscle building and maintaining skeletal tissues. Cooked chicken slices can be added to vegetable salad for a healthy combination.
Dietary intake – Half chicken breast without skin and bone, can give 196 mg of phosphorus, about 28 percent of the total requirement.
Packed with healthy protein and high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is rich in phosphorus too. Salmon can be included through several recipes such as grilling, cooking or chopping with fruit salads and vegetables.
Dietary value – 100 grams of salmon contains 282 mg of phosphorus and 21 gram of protein. The phosphorus content is 43 percent of the total daily consumption value.
One of the complete foods on earth, eggs are inexpensive and known for their high-quality protein and other essential minerals. Whole eggs are best to get all these vital nutrients.
Dietary value – One medium whole egg contains 86 mg of phosphorus, approx. 12 percent of the daily dietary intake.
Daily Sodium Requirement and Food Sources
Veg foods high in phosphorus
This hardy cereal is not only a great source of phosphorus, it also adds up to your daily manganese and selenium intake. These two minerals are needed for appropriate brain functioning. Add barley to stew or soup for meeting the requirement.
Dietary value – 1 cup of barley contains 486 mg of phosphorus, 69 percent of the daily recommended intake.
Kidney beans (Rajma)
A great plant-based food for getting protein, kidney beans are often known as ‘poor man’s meat’. They are inexpensive and a great way to add lots of fiber to diet. Boil them and add some salt for an afternoon snack or cook them and have them with rice for a tasty meal.
Dietary value – 1 cup of kidney beans contains 244 mg of phosphorus, 24 percent of the total daily dietary intake.
Yogurt is derived from milk. So, this naturally gives healthy protein with lots of calcium and other vital nutrients. Non-fat yogurt can be served with fruits for a tasty and nutritious combination.
Dietary value – 1 cup serving provides 233 mg of phosphorus, meets 23 percent of the daily dietary value.
Rich in potassium, potatoes regulates blood pressure and are beneficial for heart health. The vitamin C content boosts immunity and promotes skin health. Mashed or boiled potatoes with a pinch of salt can make up for a great evening snack.
Dietary value – 1 cup of peanuts offers 523 mg of phosphorus, which equals to about 52 percent of daily phosphorus intake.
Loaded with protein, fiber and vitamin E, almonds are one of the superfoods that are heart healthy and offer tons of benefits. And the best part of this crunchy food is that they are tasty and fulfilling as well.
Dietary value – 1/4 cup of almonds contains approx. 162 mg of phosphorus, 23 percent of daily dietary intake.
Phosphorus can be easily derived from the well-balanced diet. However, if you are one of those who is suffering from some condition or taking certain medication, you must talk to a doctor before going for phosphorus rich foods. It might be possible that overdose of phosphorus could be unfavorable to your health.
1. Cupisti A and Kalantar-Zadeh K(2013, March).Management of natural and added dietary phosphorus burden in kidney disease read more
2. Phosphorus(2014). Oregon State University read more
3. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride(1997). read more
4. Calvo MS, et al.(2014, January). Assessing the Health Impact of Phosphorus in the Food Supply: Issues and Considerations read more
5. Phosphorus in diet(2017). MedlinePlus read more