Phosphorus - The Body Energiser

Information on Deficiency, Benefits, Food Sources

Phosphorus is a mineral colleague of calcium within the body. A proper balance of phosphorus must be present in the bloodstream for good teeth and bones or nourish the brain and nerves.

Phosphorus is a soft, non-metallic element found in the body only in combination with other substances. As a result, it is neither luminous nor inflammable. In the human body, phosphorus is a part of the energy transporting systems in the cells, and is also a component of the phospholipids.

An adult human body contains about 400-700 g of phosphorus as phosphates. At least two-thirds of this amount is found in chemical combination with calcium in the bones and teeth, and the rest in other tissues.

Recommended Daily Allowance - Phosphorus
Men 1200 mg
Women 1200 mg
Children 800 mg

Absorption of Phosphorus

Phosphorus is absorbed in the small intestine as inorganic phosphates. Phosphorus present in an organic combination such as phytic acid, is hydrolysed to inorganic phosphate before absorption. Since the enzyme, phytase, is not present in human digestive juices, phytin phosphorus is absorbed only to a very slight extent in human beings. Phosphorus present in animal foods such as milk, meat, and eggs is absorbed to a greater extent than that present in cereals and legumes, as the latter exists mostly in the form of phytic acid.

The kidneys are the major pathway of excretion of the absorbed phosphorus. The retention of phosphorus in children on different diets has been reported to vary from 10% to 40%. The retention of phosphorus depends on various factors like the quantity of phosphorus ingested, the calcium content of the diet, and vitamin D intake.

Phosphorus Benefits - Functions in the Body

Phosphorus is essential for the proper utilization of not only calcium but also other minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Phosphorus is indispensable for all active tissues. In combination with calcium, it feeds the nerves. It aids the growth of hair and helps counteract fatigue. This mineral is important for the regular functioning of the heart and for normal kidney functioning.

Phosphorus is essential in the chemical processed involved in the utilization of carbohydrates and fats. It liberates their energy at the rate demanded by the body. It also helps in regulating the acid-alkaline balance of the blood, which is vital for the maintenance of health and prevention of disease.

Phosphorus is also necessary for the formation of the phospholipids - lecithin and cephalin - which are integral parts of a cell structure and also act as intermediates in fat transport and metabolism. This mineral is also an essential constituent of the nucleic acid and nucleo-proteins of body cells.

Phosphorus Sources - Rich food in phosphorus

The most important food sources of phosphorus are whole grain cereals, milk, and fish. Vegetables such as carrots, and leafy vegetables; fruits like black currants, raspberries, raisins, and apricots are fairly good sources. Other sources of this mineral are soya beans, lentils, and other pulses and legumes.

Phosphorus Deficiency Symptoms

A phosphorus deficiency may cause loss of weight, retarded growth, reduced sexual powers, and general weakness. It may result in poor mineralisation of the bones, and a deficient nerve and brain function. Conditions associated with calcium deficiency may also occur due to phosphorus deficiency. Deficiencies of phosphorus are however rare, as it is one of the elements available in large quantities in most diets.

Phosphorus Side Effects - Precautions

There are no known toxic effects of phosphorus.

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