Minerals are naturally-occurring inorganic substances with a definite chemical composition and physical properties that make them identifiable, useful, and valuable. They are found in soils and rocks but are also present in a human body. Minerals are crucial nutrients and although they do not give you energy or calories, they aid the function of organs, systems, strengthen the immune system and so much more.
Each mineral has its own unique benefits, and to get these benefits and remain healthy, it is important to keep track of your phosphorous levels.
What is Phosphorus?
Phosphorus is the second most plentiful mineral in a human body after calcium. This mineral accounts for 1% of your body weight and although it is present in every cell about 80% of total phosphorus content is found in your teeth and bones while 10% is present in the muscles. The mineral is also found in red blood cells.
Phosphorus is absorbed more efficiently than calcium in our intestine. In fact, over 70% of phosphorus content is absorbed from intestines, but total rate depends on the concentration of vitamin D and calcium and the activity of parathyroid hormones. Kidneys regulate phosphorus through excretion (and re-absorption) into the urine, so any kidney abnormality can alter phosphorous balance too.
What Does Phosphorus Do?
Like other minerals, phosphorus takes part in many functions in your body. It participates in energy production and utilisation of carbohydrates and fats, but it is also implicated in the synthesis of protein.
Healthy levels are important for:
- Strong bones and teeth
- Reduced muscle pain after exercise
- Filtering out waste from your kidneys
- Facilitating nerve conduction
- Growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues
- Regular heartbeat
- Muscle contraction
- Metabolism and nutrient utilisation
- Healthy digestion
- pH balance
- Dental health
- Cognitive function
If you don’t eat enough phosphorus-rich foods and experience problems that could affect absorption of this mineral, it’s a good idea to get tested. Your doctor may also recommend checking levels of this biomarker if you have gastrointestinal disease, kidney problems, parathyroid hormone deficiency, or impaired levels of vitamin D and calcium. Persons with weak bones may also benefit from checking their phosphorus levels. It’s a simple blood test, and in some cases, urine sample collected for 24 hours may also be required.
Keeping Phosphorus Levels in a Healthy Range
Both low and high levels can be bad for your health. In most cases these conditions are asymptomatic, but when symptoms occur they involve weak bones, seizures, confusion, and others. Adults ages between 19 and 50 need 700 mg of this mineral a day. The best way to avoid both deficiency and excessive levels of this mineral is to consume sufficient amounts of this mineral. For this, you can include following foods into your diet:
- Sunflower seeds
- Raw milk
- White beans
- Mung beans
- Turkey breast
- Grass-fed beef
- Brown rice
If you have a deficiency in this mineral then it can be also useful to consume supplements, but take them according to the recommended dosage. People with high phosphorus should lower the intake of this mineral and consult a doctor about medications and other approaches to expel excess phosphorus.
Your body needs phosphorus to function properly. This mineral takes part in a plethora of functions and it’s important to check your blood level of phosphorus, particularly if you have liver disease, kidney disease, weak bones, and other health problems. Regulating levels of this mineral involves sufficient dietary intake and management of conditions that are associated with a deficiency or excessive concentration of phosphorus in the body.
As many other biomarker abnormalities, an imbalance of this mineral is usually asymptomatic when mild to moderate, and the only way to know you are imbalanced is to get tested.
If you’re interested in learning more about inorganic phosphate and how to maintain healthy levels of it, read on more about it in our biomarker post here!