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Phosphorus makes up 0.8% to 1.1% of total body weight. It is primarily found in the skeleton and teeth in the compound Calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate gives soft organic portions of bone and teeth structural rigidity.
Aside from providing structure for bone and teeth, phosphorus has an important function in nearly all cell metabolic activities. As the major constituent of phosphate, phosphorus is essential for energy storage as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules.
Phosphorus is also an important constituent of RNA and DNA. In addition, it is a part of phospholipids, which are important cellular membrane structures. The phosphate group plays an important role in the breakdown of glucose. It is also found in many enzymes and proteins.
Phosphorus deficiency is a concern mostly for people who take phosphate-binding antacids or who experience excessive losses of urine. Otherwise, it is an extremely rare condition. Symptoms include Fatigue, anorexia, bone demineralisation, osteomalacia, convulsions, and abnormal or incomplete mineralisation of developing teeth. . It may also result from impaired renal phosphate absorption, a characteristic of Vitamin D-resistant rickets. Symptoms are similar to those of other forms of rickets.
Age RDA (mg)
Bone and Dental health:
In large amounts, phosphorus is not toxic per se. However, if the amount is disproportionately greater than calcium levels, increased excretion of calcium can occur, resulting in calcium deficiency.
People with renal insufficiencies may have high blood levels of phosphate due to decreased excretion of phosphorus. Skeletal demineralisation and mineral resorption may occur. Aluminum hydroxide or calcium carbonate can be used to reverse this condition.
There are no known drug interactions or contra-indications for phosphorus.
The following are food sources of phosphorus: Artichokes, beef, broccoli, chicken, egg, ice cream, dried beans, beef liver, cheese, chicken liver, green peas, lamb liver, lentils, lima beans, milk, mushroom, orange sherbet, parsnip, peanut, pork, potatoes, sardines, turkey liver, veal liver, enriched white bread, whole wheat bread, winter squash, and yogurt.
1. Heaney, R.P. In: Bone and Mineral Research, Vol 4. Elsevier: New York, 1986, pp. 255-301.