Phosphorus plays a major part in the body’s biochemistry; in fact, it participates to varying degrees in every metabolic reaction within cells. Among the most important of its functions, phosphorus is needed for the activation of several enzymes, including those that are responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. This mineral is also needed for the activation of B vitamins, several of which are also critical to cellular metabolism and energy release from foods.


The second most abundant mineral in the body, phosphorus is an essential structural constituent of cells. In particular, phosphorus is bound to other components such as fats to form phospholipids (i.e. lecithin, phosphatidylserine). Among other functions, phospholipids represent a major part of most cell membranes. Nutrients are transported into and out of the cells via the portion of the membranes of which phosphorus is a component. Although all cells depend on the presence of phosphorus within cell membranes, it is especially critical within the nervous system. Certain phospholipids (i.e. lecithin) emulsify fatty compounds such as cholesterol, as well as facilitating their transport in the watery parts of the body.


Skeletal tissue (bones and teeth) contains approximately 99% of the body’s calcium and 85% of the body’s phosphorus. When the phosphorus and calcium bind to one another, calcium phosphate is formed, which maintains the hardness, strength and structural integrity of skeletal tissue. Healthy bone tissue is not inert – it is constantly being built up and broken down in order to ensure a balance between proper skeletal integrity and blood calcium levels. Calcium maintains bone density not only by its role in the structural composition, but also by stimulating the release of the thyroid hormone calcitonin. Calcitonin causes calcium to be taken from the blood to replenish levels in bone tissue. Calcium’s influence on calcitonin is intended to work in balance with phosphorus, which stimulates parathyroid hormone release. Parathyroid hormone causes calcium to be taken from the bone in order to elevate blood calcium levels. Other than the influence of calcitonin and parathyroid hormone, the kidneys are to a great extent responsible for regulating calcium and phosphorus levels (i.e. through influencing the rates of calcium reabsorption and urinary excretion of phosphorus).

Potential Applications

•        Maintaining proper cellular function

•        Maintaining optimal metabolism

•        Maintaining phospholipid formation

•        Maintaining proper cellular integrity

•        Maintaining proper cellular nutrient transport

•        Maintaining proper calcium balance

Typical Supplemental Dosage Range

• Please note: phosphorus is found in all foods (and in especially liberal quantities in atiimal foods) and is typically consumed in excessive quantities in proportion to calcium intake. Therefore supplementation is seldom required. It is normally recommended to consume phosphorus in daily amounts that are similar to one’s daily intake of calcium. If phosphorus supplementation is used, it is recommended that, when combined with one’s dietary intake, it does not exceed the daily intake of calcium from both diet and/or supplements.


•        800mg

Common Supplement Forms/Source

•        Calcium phosphate

•        Di-calcium phosphate

•        Tri-calcium phosphate

•        Bone meal

•        Hydroxyapatite

•        Lecithin/phosphatidylcholine

•       Phosphorus amino acid chelate

Common Food Sources

Though phosphorus is found in all foods, below are some of those with the most liberal quantities:

•        Carbonated soft drinks

•        Meat

•        Poultry

•        Fish

•        Eggs

•        Dairy products

•        Soybeans

•        Whole grains

•        Nuts and seeds

•        Beans and legumes

Contraindications/Cautions/lnteractions/Toxicity Concerns

•        Unfortunately, excessive dietary phosphorus is the rule rather than the exception in the typical ‘western diet’. What constitutes an excessive phosphorus intake depends to a great extent on one’s calcium intake. In other words, if one’s daily calcium intake typically falls within, for example, the 800-1000mg range, then one’s daily phosphorus intake should preferably also fall within 800-1000mg. There are various estimates as to the typical ratio of phosphorus to calcium in those with a typical western diet. The average ratio would appear to fall between 2:1 and 4:1 phosphorus to calcium. Non-vegetarians are especially prone to severe phosphorus imbalances – in fact, red meat contains approximately 15-25 times more phosphorus than calcium. Not surprisingly, vegetarians have a much lower incidence of osteoporosis – a fact which helps underline the importance of keeping phosphorus intake more or less in proportion to calcium.

•        Excessive phosphorus intake can adversely affect calcium balance and utilization, thereby increasing the risk of developing calcium deficiency signs and symptoms.

•        Excessive phosphorus intake over an extended period may lead to a reduction in bone density and possibly increase one’s risk of developing osteoporosis.

Agents/Factors Which Deplete Levels, Impair Absorption and/or Inhibit Activity

•        Calcium (very high intakes)

Possible Signs/Symptoms Associated with Deficiency

Phosphorus deficiency is highly unlikely to occur, especially in those with a typical ‘western’ diet; however below are some of the possible deficiency signs/symptoms:

•        Physical fatigue

•        Mental fatigue

•        Weakness

•        Neurological dysfunction

•        Loss of appetite

•        Depression

•        Breathing problems

•        Gum disease

•        Rickets

•        Dental caries (cavities)

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