February 08, 2014

Phosphorus

    Phosphorus is an essential nutrient required for proper cell functioning, regulation of calcium, strong bones and teeth, and for making ATP (adenosine triphosphate) a molecule which provides energy to our cells. A deficiency in phosphorus can lead to lowered appetite, anemia, muscle pain, improper bone formation (rickets), numbness, and a weakened immune system. 

Functions of Phosphorus

  • Phosphorus is an essential nutrient required for proper cell functioning and for making ATP (adenosine triphosphate) a molecule which provides energy to our cells.
  • It helps in regulation of calcium for strong bones and teeth. 
  • It is an important part of the DNA and RNA (genes). 
  • Phosphorus acts as a cofactor for many enzymes and activates the vitamin B complex. 
  • It helps in utilization of carbohydrates and fats and in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues.

Rich Sources 

Phosphorus is more easily absorbed from meat products and you can only absorb half of the phosphorus contained in plant foods. But nutrients from plant sources are supposed to be optimal for health.
  • Rice Bran, Oat Bran
  • Pumpkin, Watermelon and Squash Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Toasted Wheat Germ
  • Sesame Seeds and Tahini
  • Brazil Nuts, Pine Nuts, Cashews, Peanuts, Pistachios, Walnuts, Hazelnuts
  • Roasted Soybean (Edamame)
  • Flaxseeds
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Lentils
  • Cocoa Powder


Recommended Daily Intake

  • Adults 19 years and older: 700 mg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding females 19 years and older: 700 mg


Deficiency 

Deficiency may lead to Rickets, Osteoporosis, Stiff joints and Pain in the bones. 

Symptoms 

Symptoms of phosphorus deficiency include loss of appetite, anxiety, bone pain, fragile bones, stiff joints, fatigue, irregular breathing, irritability, numbness, weakness, and weight change. In children, decreased growth and poor bone and tooth development may occur.

Prone to Deficiency

  • Alcoholics - Alcohol can draw phosphorus supplies from the bones, lowering overall levels.3
  • People Taking Salt Substitutes - Salt substitutes which contain potassium may reduce phosphorus levels in the long term.


Drugs which may Lower Phosphorus Levels

  • Antacids - Antacids with aluminum, calcium, or magnesium, can hamper phosphorus absorption in the digestive system.
  • Anticonvulsants - Anticonvulsants can lower levels of phosphorus in the body, and create enzymes which hamper absorption.
  • Bile Acid Sequestrants - Bile acid sequestrants used to lower cholesterol can prevent phosphorus being absorbed by the body.
  • Corticosteroids - Corticosteroids can increase excretion of phosphorus in urine.
  • Insulin - Insulin in high doses may lower phosphorus absorption.
  • ACE Inhibitors (Blood Pressure Medication) - ACE Inhibitors may lower levels of phosphorus.
  • Cyclosporine (Immune Supressant)
  • Cardiac Glycosides (Digoxin or Lanoxin)
  • Heparins (Blood-thinning Drugs)
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (Ibuprofen or Advil)

Overdose 

  • Calcification of the organs and soft tissues – Excessively high levels of phosphorus in the blood can combine with calcium to form deposits which accumulate in tissues such as muscle. 
  • High levels of phosphorus in blood only occur in people with severe kidney disease or severe dysfunction of their calcium regulation.
  • Extremely high intake of phosphorus leads to a calcium imbalance.
Symptoms of phosphorus toxicity include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and spasms. Also getting a lot of phosphorus can be just as detrimental to bone health as not getting enough. Phosphorus is abundant in foods. Having too much phosphorus in the body is more common than not having enough. Getting too much phosphorus happens when a person will not get enough calcium. There is a balanced needed between calcium and phosphorus. When the amount of phosphorus in the body goes up, the amount of calcium in the body decreases.

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