Risks Associated with Excess Phosphorus or Low Phosphorus in the Diet

Phosphorus is a mineral that the body needs to perform its various functions. It is found naturally occurring in many foods.

The body requires phosphorus to keep the bones strong and healthy. Those with health conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes would need to adjust phosphorus in their diets.

Too high or too low levels of phosphorus can lead to medical complications such as heart disease, joint pain, and fatigue.

Dietary Phosphorus

Most of the foods contain phosphorus, but the foods that are rich in phosphorus include:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Meat and poultry
  • Milk and dairy products

Many foods high in calcium have a high level of phosphorus too. Some non-protein foods that contain phosphorus are whole grains, potatoes, garlic, dried fruits, and carbonated drinks.

Along with building bones and teeth, phosphorus also play a role in how the body processes carbohydrates and sugar. It also contributes to the body functions that involve:

  • Nervous system
  • Muscle contraction
  • Heartbeat regulation
  • Kidney function

How Much Phosphorus Is Required By The Body?

The phosphorus requirement of the body depends on age.

Adults need less phosphorus than children between 9-18 years but more than children less than 8 years of age.

Phosphorus requirement according to the age is as follows:(1, 2)

  • Above 19 years need 700 mg
  • Children between 9 to 18 years need 1250 mg
  • Children of 4 to 8 years need 500 mg
  • Children of 1 to 3 years need 460 mg
  • Infants of 7 to 12 months need 275 mg
  • Infants of 0 to 6 months need 100 mg

Most of the people get the required phosphorus from their diet while a few would need to supplement it.

Benefits of Phosphorus in the Diet

Phosphorus is known to offer the body various health benefits. Some of the main benefits include:

  • It helps in keeping the bones and the teeth strong
  • Helps in muscle contraction
  • Aids muscle recovery after exercise
  • Helps in filtering and removing waste from the kidney
  • Makes DNA and RNA
  • Promotes healthy nerve conduction throughout the body
  • Manages body’s energy usage and storage

The Risk Associated with the Excessive Phosphorus in the Body

Consuming too much phosphorus in the diet is not a problem for many people. But, in those suffering from chronic kidney diseases or in people whose bodies have problems with processing calcium, excess phosphorus build-up is possible.

If there is excessive phosphorus in the blood, it can pull the calcium from the bones, making them weak. It can combine with calcium and deposit in the soft tissues in the body. These deposits can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, or even death.

High phosphorus consumption can lead to the following negative health effects in animals:(2)

  • Calcification of vascular and renal system
  • Injuries to the tubes within the kidney
  • Premature death
  • Abnormal protein in the urine that can indicate kidney damage

The Risk Associated With Low Phosphorus in the Diet

Most people get enough phosphorus from their diet as required by the body. But there are some who would require phosphorus more than others.

People suffering from diabetes who take insulin to control their blood pressure levels would need more phosphorus. Also, those with alcohol disorders would need to increase their phosphorus intake.

There are a few medications that lower the levels of phosphorus in the body. They include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Some antacids
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Some anti-seizure drugs
  • Some diuretics

Symptoms Of Having Low Phosphorus Levels Include:

Extremely low levels of phosphorus in the body can lead to coma or other life-threatening complications.

Phosphorus levels can also be corrected by treating the underlying conditions. A health care expert can recommend dietary changes or supplements to ensure an adequate phosphorus intake.

Phosphorus is a mineral that is required by the body to perform its basic functions and can be obtained through the diet. If concerned about the phosphorus intake or experiencing symptoms of deficiency speak with your doctor to get it addressed.

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