Phosphorus: Overview

Phosphorus is a mineral that makes up 1% of total body weight.  It is present in every cell of the body, but 85% of the body's phosphorus is found in the bones and teeth.

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A mineral that is quite abundant in the earth's crust, phosphorus is an important component of many biological molecules, usually in the form of phosphates.  Cells contains phospholipids, phosphorylated proteins, and the DNA backbone is highly saturated with phosphate molecules.

Excessively high levels of phosphorus in the blood, although rare, can combine with calcium and deposit in soft tissues like muscle.  These high levels of phosphorus in blood only occur in people with severe kidney disease or severe dysfunction of their calcium regulation.


There is no known deficiency of phosphorus because it is so available in the food supply.  The main food sources are the protein food groups of meat and milk (also lentils, seeds, beans, nuts, chocolate, peanut butter, bran.)  A meal plan that provides adequate amounts of calcium and protein also provides an adequate amount of phosphorus.

Whole-grain breads and cereals contain more phosphorus than refined cereals and breads made from refined flour.  However, the phosphorus in whole-grain products is in the form of phytin, a storage form of phosphorus that is not absorbed by humans.

Fruits and vegetables contain only small amounts of phosphorus.

Phosphorus is often added to multi-mineral products as well as bone supplementation products.


The main function of phosphorus is in the formation of the bones and teeth.  It plays an essential role in the body's utilization of carbohydrates and fats, and in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of all cells and tissues in the body.  It is also required for the production of the genetic building blocks, DNA and RNA.

Phosphorus plays an essential role in storing and using the body's energy.  It also helps reduce muscle pain after a hard workout.

Phosphorus works with the B vitamins in their functions in the body.  It also assists in the contraction of muscles, in the functioning of kidneys, in maintaining the regularity of the heartbeat, and in nerve conduction.

Phosphate molecules are also important in bone structure and for the modulation of plasma and bone calcium.  The compound calcium "hydroxyapatite" is a complex of calcium, phosphate, and hydroxyl groups; and is often used as a supplement for bone replacement.

Phosphorus helps filter out waste in the kidneys balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium, and zinc.


The USRDA for phosphorus is 1000mg.  The more accurate breakdown is:

Stage of lifeDaily need (mg)
Birth-3 years300-800
4-10 years800
Adults, men and women800-1200
Pregnant/nursing women1200

Most diets in the U.S. have adequate amounts of phosphorus.

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Phosphorus can help with the following:


Not recommended for
Alport Syndrome

Treatment of the kidney disease consists of controlling high blood pressure and restricting dietary phosphorus.

Organ Health

Kidney Stones (Urolithiasis)

Phosphorus is used clinically to treat calcium-based kidney stones.

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May be useful: may help with
May be useful:
may help with
Often counterindicated: is often not recommended for
Often counterindicated:
is often not recommended for
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