What is phosphorus?
Phosphorus is a mineral. Highly reactive, it is never found in its free form it nature. Present as phosphate in every cell of the body, it is a nutrient required by all organisms for the basic processes of life, from energy storage to the formation of bones and teeth.
Why is phosphorus necessary?
Healthy bones and soft tissues require phosphorus (along with calcium) to grow and develop throughout life. Optimum phosphate levels also promote healthy metabolism, the utilization of many B-complex vitamins, proper muscle and nerve function, and calcium balance. Phosphates are used to treat a variety of ailments, including constipation, kidney stones, and high blood calcium levels.
What are the signs of a deficiency?
Muscle weakness is the most common symptom of phosphate deficiency; this can include impairment of heart contraction. Other symptoms may include confusion, seizures and coma. The most prominent signs of a phosphorus deficiency include:
- Weak Bones, Broken Bones and Fractures
- Changes in Appetite
- Joint and Muscle Aches
- Trouble Exercising
- Tooth Decay
- Numbness and Tingling
- Weight Loss or Gain
- Stunted Growth and Other Development Problems
- Trouble Concentrating
Are there any risks associated with too much phosphorus?
Excess phosphate intake can result in hyperphosphatemia (high blood phosphorus levels) which can lead to potentially serious electrolyte imbalances and even death.
Are there any other special considerations?
Excessive intake of phosphorus (or phosphate) supplements may worsen conditions such as heart disease, pancreatitis, rickets, osteocalcin (softening of bones), high blood pressure, and liver and kidney disease. Always talk with your physician before taking phosphorus supplements if you have any health conditions.
Are there any clinical uses too?
Phosphates (phosphorus) are also used clinically to treat the following:
- Hypophosphatemia, low levels of phosphorus in the body
- Hypercalcemia, high blood calcium levels
- Calcium-based kidney stones
Although, these conditions require a doctor’s care. Phosphates are also used in enemas as laxatives. Most people get plenty of phosphorus in their diets. Sometimes athletes use phosphate supplements before competitions or heavy workouts to help reduce muscle pain and fatigue, although it is not clear how much it helps or if it improves performance.
What are the good dietary sources of phosphorus?
Good dietary sources of phosphates include milk, cheese, dried beans, peas, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and peanut butter. Protein-rich foods are also good sources of phosphorus, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and legumes. Other good sources include whole grains, hard potatoes, dried fruit, garlic cloves, and carbonated beverages.
What are the medical uses of phosphorus?
Elemental phosphorus is a white or yellow, waxy substance that burns on contact with air. It is highly toxic and is only used in medicine as a homeopathic treatment. You should only take elemental phosphorus under the guidance of a qualified professional. Instead, health care providers may use one or more of the following inorganic phosphates, which are not toxic at typical doses:
- Dibasic Potassium Phosphate
- Monobasic Potassium Phosphate
- Dibasic Sodium Phosphate
- Monobasic Sodium Phosphate
- Tribasic Sodium Phosphate
- Phosphatidyl Choline
- Phosphatidyl Serine