What Does Phosphorus Do to Your Body?


​​Phosphorus is an essential mineral found in many different foods. It is also available as a dietary supplement. Phosphorus is a component of your teeth and bones. It is also a major part of ribonucleic acid, also known as RNA. This is important in protein synthesis and is a part of every cell. Therefore, phosphorus has many health functions. It also reduces the risk of many conditions. These include osteoporosis, anxiety, and anemia. Because of this, it is important to understand the groups at risk of phosphorus deficiency. We also need to find out the recommended daily intake.

Health Functions​

Phosphorus has many health functions. One of the main roles of phosphorus is to build healthy bones and teeth. It works with calcium and vitamin D in the body to keep bones and teeth healthy. This is why it is important for calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus to be in balance. Phosphorus also comes in the form of a phospholipid. A phospholipid is made up of a phosphate group and fatty acids. These special structures act as the body’s crucial energy source, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides energy and storage to the body. It also helps reduce muscle pain after a workout. Lastly, phosphorus plays a major role in the regulation of gene transcription. It is also used in the regulation of biochemical processes in the body. Phosphorus is important in pH regulation.

Disease Risk Reduction

Phosphorus can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the medical condition in which the bones become fragile and brittle. This often happens as someone ages. Getting enough phosphorus can also reduce the risk of anemia. This is a condition in which the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. Phosphorus may also reduce anxiety in adults. It can also help with generalized fatigue and irritability. Phosphorus has an important role in post-workout muscle health. Therefore, eating enough of it may reduce post-workout fatigue and injury. It also promotes muscle strength.

Groups at Risk

Phosphorus deficiency is rare. This is likely due to the widespread availability of phosphorus in most common foods. However, some may be more at risk than others. Certain genetic disorders involve a mutation of a particular gene. This mutation disrupts phosphorus metabolism, resulting in lower than normal phosphorus levels in these individuals. Tumor-wasting syndrome also results in low phosphorus. When you have this disease, the kidney wastes more phosphorus than usual. Refeeding syndrome may also lead to phosphorus deficiency. It may occur as a result of anorexia, alcoholism, or other certain diseases. This happens when an individual has been in a starved state or malnourished for a while. When it is time for them to eat again, there are imbalances in their nutrients. This causes phosphorus to move intracellularly, causing a low level of phosphorus within the blood.

Intake Recommendations

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDAs) for phosphorus differ based on age. This is because our needs differ as we grow older. Certain factors may also change the recommended value. You can find your RDA for phosphorus in the table below.

AGE IN YEARS RECOMMENDATIONS (MILLIGRAMS PER DAY)
6 to 11 years
500 to 1250 Mg/D
12 to 19 years
1250 Mg/D
20 to 69 years
700 Mg/D
>70 years
700 Mg/D

Many different types of foods contain phosphorus. This includes dairy products, fish, eggs, and poultry. Vegetables, nuts, and legumes are good sources too. A decent amount of phosphorus is also found in dates too. In the United States, dairy products contribute close to 20% of the total phosphorus intake. Bakery items come at second with 10%. Phosphorus is also readily available in supplements for those who need additional amounts.

Conclusion

Phosphorus is a mineral found in many different foods. It is also available as a supplement for those who need additional amounts. Phosphorus deficiency is common in many groups. It is especially true for those with the tumor-wasting syndrome and genetic disorders. Consuming adequate phosphorus can reduce the risk of many diseases. This is because phosphorus has a role in bone health, muscle repair, and mental health.

Written by:

Allison Tallman, MS, RDN, CNSC

Registered Dietitian

Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian
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PubMed Central

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