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Phosphorus.
The source of all energy in living cells.

Whilst Phosphorus deficiency is rare, it is an extremely important mineral, which requires some attention here.

The majority of Phosphorus found in the body is bound up with calcium in the bones as calcium phosphate, accounting for around 80% of the bodily total. The remainder is distributed throughout the body as inorganic phosphate and in all cells as ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate), which is the main "energy" chamical in the body, as well as being a main component of the genetic materials DNA and RNA, which are found in every cell.

Phosphorus (or phosphate) is also a component of all major types of biochemical compounds, of which ATP and its close relative ADP (Adenosine Di-Phosphate) are prime examples.

Due to the fact that Phosphorus and calcium combine in equaly amounts to form the calcium phosphate that makes bone, Phosphorus is required in the diet in similar amounts to calcium.

Functions of Phosphorus in the body

  • An essential component of bones and teeth
  • Needed to enable communication between cells
  • Required to activate B-complex vitamins
  • Essential part of cell membranes
  • Required for all major biochemical pathways in the body, such as energy production, cell division and ALL others
  • Contributes to the function of many enzymes

Phosphorus deficiency

As stated, this is rare, but may be precipitated by severe medical conditions.

Symptoms of Phosphorus deficiency

Debility
Anaemia
Osteomalacia
Loss of appetite
Mental confusion
Speech problems
Susceptibility to infection
General signs of weakness and lack of energy

Association with other minerals and vitamins

As stated, Phosphorus is intimately associated with calcium in formin bone and is also required in order to activate the B-Vitamins. Phosphorus and calcium have an antagonistic relationship meaning that excess phsphorus will reduce calcium levels.

Normal amounts of Phosphorus in the diet

Age mg/day
Children (0-10 years) 350-550
11yrs+ (inc adults) 800-1,000
Lactation 1,250

Sources of dietary Phosphorus

Phosphorus is an integral component of all living cells, both animal and plant derived. It is therefore present in all natural foods, meaning that it is usually abundant in the diet.

Particularly good sources of Phosphorus include:

Nuts
Meat
Fish
Cheese
Soy products
Whole grains

Fast foods and soft drinks contain large amounts of Phosphorus, but as they are not balanced by calcium (and include other nasties such as trans-fats), they should be avoided.

Phosphorus supplements

Because of the abundance of Phosphorus in virtually all foods, supplementation is not normally required.

Back from Phosphorus to minerals

Related Links

Antioxidants
Amino-acids
Carbohydrates
Essential fatty acids
Fats
Minerals
Plant extracts
Proteins
Trace elements
Vitamins

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