Phosphorus & Its Supplements – A Complete Guide

pea-soup - Peas are a form of phosphorus

With the first being calcium, Phosphorous is the second most abundant mineral in the human body.

Present as phosphate in every cell, phosphorus is an essential nutrient that carries out a range of important functions in our body from repairing tissues and cells to segregating waste products from our kidneys.

An average human being achieves a sufficient amount of phosphorus from his daily diet.

In fact, unlike the other minerals, there are more chances of phosphorus levels being high in our body than phosphorus levels being low. 

If you end up consuming too much phosphorus in your diet and too little calcium and if you don’t maintain the ideal balance between phosphorus and calcium, you run the risk of having excess phosphorus in your body.

Excess phosphorus can lead to various health issues like heart disease, aches in the joints, tiredness, and fatigue.

Benefits of Phosphorus

  • Supports bone health and keeps them strong.
  • Builds and maintains strong teeth.
  • Produces energy and manages the storage of energy.
  • Aids muscle movement.
  • Filters out waste substances from our kidneys.
  • It controls the steady rhythm of the heartbeat.
  • It helps with the contraction of muscles.
  • Produces building blocks for our genes.
  • Monitors the growth, maintenance, and repair of our tissues and cells.
  • Balances out vitamins in our body and uses them well.

Is Phosphorus a Major Or Trace Mineral?

Phosphorus is a major mineral.

Phosphorus’s main functions are: Important for healthy bones and teeth; found in every cell; part of the system that maintains acid-base balance

Sources of Phosphorus: Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, processed foods (including soda pop)

Foods That Are High In Phosphorus Content

Usually, an average balanced diet contains a sufficient amount of phosphorus without really fretting about it. Moreover, a thumb rule with phosphorus is that foods that are high in protein and calcium are also high in phosphorus. 

Therefore, if your diet has enough quantities of protein and calcium then you need not worry about the phosphorus content. Having said that, here are foods you need to include in your diet to maintain a healthy ratio of phosphorus in your body-

  • Diary products like milk, cheese, yoghurt, etc.
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Seeds
  • Dried fruits
  • Garlic
  • Whole grains
  • Potatoes
  • Green peas
  • Peanut butter

Ideal Phosphorus Intake Chart

The amount of phosphorus each of us needs mostly depends on our age. Adults need a lesser amount of phosphorus than children while they’re growing. For a more detailed amount, refer to the chart below.

phosphorus intake chart
Phosphorus & Its Supplements - A Complete Guide 4

Signs of Phosphorus Deficieny

A dietary phosphorus deficiency is rather rare to come across. It only happens in cases of total starvation or inherited cases of deficiencies. A major deficiency in the level of phosphorus is capable of affecting every system of the body. It can lead to aches in the joints, loss of appetite, trouble in respiratory circulation, weak muscles and even going as far as fractures or seizures.

Unlike a few micronutrients, our bodies do not have the capability to produce their own phosphorus. Hence the intake of phosphorus has to come from food, and if need be, even from external phosphorus supplements.

Phosphorus Supplements

Your body may experience lower phosphate levels due to two reasons,

Either you are consuming a lesser amount of phosphorus in your diet through food intake or you are losing too much phosphorus from your kidneys. In either case, phosphate supplements aim to shoot up the phosphorus levels in your bloodstream thus maintaining a healthy amount of it in your body.

Please note that you should not take any of the below-given supplements if you have severe kidney issues, a low level of calcium or you have a high amount of phosphorus in your body already.

Potassium Phosphate Supplement

A laxative and dietary supplement, potassium phosphate is responsible for regulating the concentration of calcium and helping phosphorus with various cellular reactions. It also plays an important role in the storage of energy in the body.

Potassium phosphate retains water and increases the fluidity of the contents inside the intestines. This thereby leads to smooth muscle constructions inside the intestines.

Sodium Phosphate Supplement

A powerful saline laxative, sodium phosphate is a nutritional supplement that works by increasing the amount of fluid in the small intestine. This results in bowel movement in the next 30 minutes to 6 hours. Hence this supplement is primarily used to treat constipation.

If taken regularly for a long period of time, this supplement can lead to a laxative dependency. So it’s safer to not use these for more than 7 days.

Phosphorus Supplement Side Effects

If you take a phosphorus/phosphate supplement after consulting your doctor, it’s generally safe to use. However, if you consume more doses than prescribed, you can be susceptible to the following symptoms,

  • A severe case of diarrhea that goes on for weeks.
  • Increased level of thirst.
  • Some areas of body tingling or feeling numb.
  • Feeling short of breath on more occasions than one.
  • Migraine and headache.
  • Feeling of head-spinning followed by dizziness.
  • Tendency to vomit
  • Feeling nauseated.
  • Joint aches
  • Feeling weakness in the bones.
  • Difficulty in urinating properly.
  • Pain in the muscles.
  • Swollen feet or ankles.

Hence it’s safe to try and stay within your ideal intake limit and avoid high dosages of these supplements.

Minerals are such an important part of our diet please explore this site to learn more about them.