In the mineral rankings, phosphorus takes second place to calcium as the most abundant mineral in our bodies (yet it makes up only 5% of our total mineral content). Every cell contains phosphorus, which means this mineral has an important role in almost every chemical reaction in the body. It is required for the production of energy from fats, carbohydrates and proteins and helps the body to use some of the B group of vitamins.
While it forms an essential link in the absorption of many other minerals and body functions, phosphorus is also known for its beneficial effect on many ailments. It has been reported to help fractured bones heal more quickly and lose less calcium in the process. It may offer benefit to people suffering osteoporosis and osteomalacia. And new research is leading scientists to explore the role of phosphorus in preventing cancer, since cancerous cells lose their stores of phosphorus more readily than normal ones.
85% of the body's phosphorus is in the skeleton where it improves bone strength. Phosphorus also occurs in all cells of the body where it plays an essential role in the release of energy from carbohydrates and assisting in maintaining the acid balance of the body.
As it is found in almost all our foods, phosphorus deficiencies are rare. Excessive consumption however can increase leaching of calcium from bones.
Present in most unprocessed foods. Rich sources include dairy foods, meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, wholemeal bread and wholegrain cereals. Also found in sweet corn, peas, spinach, asparagus, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli and potatoes.
When foods are highly processed, their phosphorus content is eliminated.
A level of 800 mg, in line with the recommended calcium intake, is desirable.
Are you eating enough phosphorus? Put your diet to the test