Phosphorus – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body next to calcium, which it works along side with to help build strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is mostly found in the bones, but can also be found in the cells and tissues where it plays an important role in maintenance and repair. Phosphorus also helps the kidneys to filter out waste, assists the body in storing energy, is needed for growth and assists in the production of the bodies genetic building blocks, DNA and RNA.

Phosphorus helps the body to maintain the healthy pH balance of 7.4. Maintaining a healthy PH is the bodies best defence against disease. When the bodies pH falls below 7.4, less oxygen is carried through the blood allowing the unfavourable growth of bacteria, yeast, fungus, viruses and other unwanted organisms. Ph levels that are below 7.4 are considered to be acidic and not only damage cells, but can eat holes in tissues and allow serious conditions like cancer to thrive.

Characteristics of a Phosphorus Deficiency

The good news is, deficiencies are generally rare since phosphorus is found in several different food sources. Deficiencies can occur in people suffering serious health conditions or who have undergone surgeries that can compromise the bodies digestive system along with its ability to absorb the nutrients it needs. Antacids and diuretics have also been found to deplete phosphorus levels.

Symptoms of a deficiency include loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, weakness, weak and fragile bones, bone pain, stiff joints, numbness, irregular breathing, and weight change. In children a deficiency can interfere with proper growth and bone development.

Phosphorus toxicity is unfortunately more common and is linked to the heavy consumption of processed foods and soft drinks. Phosphate stabilizers, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents and acidity regulators all contribute to phosphorus toxicity which are all found in processed foods. Kidney disease has also been linked to high phosphorus levels.

High levels of phosphorus in the body can bind with calcium in the blood and form deposits in your muscles and other soft tissues, causing them to harden. Phosphorus toxicity can interfere with your bodies ability to absorb and use other important minerals which can potentially cause an array of other health complications. To avoid phosphorus toxicity, avoid highly processed foods and soda pop.

Phosphorus Food Sources

There are many excellent sources for phosphorus. Seeds, nuts, wheat germ and oats are some; protein rich foods like fish and milk products offer another excellent source; but legumes and lentils are also equally as rich in this essential nutrient.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Phosphorus

This chart lists the best food sources for phosphorus, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of phosphorus in that single serving.

Phosphorus Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Hearty Vegetable Lentil Soup recipe! Lentils are an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient phosphorus.

 

Written by: J. Marshall

References

•    Canadian Diabetes Association: www.diabetes.ca
•    The World’s Healthiest Foods: www.whfoods.com
•    University of Maryland Medical Center: umm.edu
•    Global Healing Center: www.globalhealingcenter.com
•    Dr. Axe – Food is Medicine: https://draxe.com/balancing-act-why-ph-is-crucial-to-health/
•    Live Strong: http://www.livestrong.com/article/496979-too-much-phosphorus-in-the-body/
•    Health Canada: Dietary Reference Intake Tables: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php
•    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services / Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI): https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

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