Role of phosphorus in human body

Role of phosphorus in human body


Phosphorus is an essential mineral that is the second largest one of all the minerals occurring in your body. It plays many important functions in the human body as it is necessary for strengthening the bones in the form of calcium phosphate. Moreover, it is the part of DNA, RNA and the ATP; Adenosine triphosphate (energy currency of the cell). In human body phosphorus is combined with oxygen to form phosphate that is one of the body electrolytes. Most of the phosphorus in the body is uncharged, but when it is dissolved in fluids it gets the -3 charge as PO43- (phosphate form of phosphorus). Phosphate is obtained from the foods and is then excreted either through urine or sometimes stool. This article will discuss all about phosphorus.

Sources of phosphorus:

Food sources are the best sources for obtaining any kind of nutrient. Phosphorus is also found in many foods but most common in those foods that are high in protein. These include:

  1. Meat
  2. Fish e.g cod, salmon, tuna
  3. Chicken
  4. Milk and dairy products e.g yogurt
  5. Eggs
  6. Nuts and seeds
  7. Beans
  8. Bran cereals
  9. Whole grains
  10. Potatoes garlic
  11. Dry fruits
  12. Soft drinks

All fresh fruits and vegetables are usually low in phosphorus.


Phosphorus can also be obtained from supplements. The supplements of phosphorus are usually used when the calcium is in excess. To manage this, the parallel amounts of calcium and phosphorus must be present if it is not it will lead to bone resorption that may be due to the highly active parathyroid gland that takes the calcium from bones and put it into blood leading to decreased bone density. Phosphorus supplements can be used to treat this condition.

RDA dosage of phosphorus:

The daily recommended dosage of the phosphorus varies with the different gender, age phases and conditions. These include:

  • For adults of 19 years and above, the recommended dosage of phosphorus as RDA is 700 mg per day
  • For children of age 3 to 18 years; the RDA is 1259 mg per day
  • Infants of 0 to 6 months; RDA is 100 mg/day
  • Infants 7-12 months; RDA is 275 mg/day
  • Children 1 to 3 years; RDA is 460 mg/day

Role of phosphorus:

Phosphorus plays many important roles in the human body. These may include:

  • Phosphorus along with calcium makes up the bone density. The equal amounts of phosphorus and calcium are needed for strong bones and teeth. About 85% of phosphorus is found in bones. High levels of calcium due to overactive parathyroid glands can impair the phosphorus absorption.
  • Phosphorus is also the component of ATP that provides energy for all body activities and metabolism. In ATP adenosine triphosphate, there are three phosphate bonds and the breakage of a single terminal bond provides about 7.3 kcal of energy.
  • It is also the component of cell membranes in the form of phospholipids that make up about 20-40 % of the membrane. It is also found in the DNA as the phosphoric acid that binds one nucleotide to the other and forms the long chains of DNA and RNA.
  • It also has its role in the growth and maintenance of the human body along with the repair of tissues and cells.
  • Phosphorus helps to filter the wastes out of the kidneys.
  • Phosphorus also plays its role in the muscle contraction. It also helps to regulate the nerve transmission.
  • It helps to reduce muscle pain after exercise. It balances the minerals such as iodine, calcium, magnesium and zinc; and uses the vitamins such as vitamin B and D.

Side-effects of over-consumption:

High levels of phosphorus in blood are known as hyper-phosphatemia. High phosphate levels of blood can be toxic and can cause diarrhea, hardening of soft tissues and organs. High levels of phosphorus can cause the balance of other minerals to be disturbed and with calcium form the mineral deposits in the muscles. Hyper-phosphatemia is a rare condition but can develop in people with kidney problems.


Symptoms of high phosphorus include:

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Itching
  • Red eyes
  • Severe constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Side-effects of phosphate deficiency:

Low levels of phosphorus in blood are known as the hypo-phosphatemia. This condition can cause:

  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Poor bone growth and development in growing children


So, in a nutshell phosphorus is very important as it is a component of energy currency ATP performing many other important functions as bones and teeth health. It should be consumed in regulated amounts. Its under-production and over production both can cause complications.

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