While phosphorus may not be well-known like iron or calcium, it is nonetheless equally important in the proper functioning of our bodies. Our bones and teeth are full of phosphorus, and it is part of every cell in the body. Phosphorus deficiency is extremely uncommon because phosphorus is one mineral that we can easily get enough of from our diets. That’s a good thing, since phosphorus is key to many of the necessary functions of our body.
1. Cell Function
Phosphorus is necessary to form the membranes of our cells, which is essential for the very survival of our cells. Phosphorus can also be found inside every cell and helps keep things running smoothly within the membrane. The genetic material DNA and RNA both contain phosphorus, which acts somewhat like a glue that holds them together. Clearly, phosphorus is a necessary component in the structure and health of our cells.
2. Bone Support
While phosphorus is crucial in normal cell functioning, the majority of phosphorus is actually found in our bones rather than our cells. Without phosphorus, the calcium in your bones would not be as effective in making and keeping your bones strong. This element is also critical in bone growth and remodeling as it is involved with the signaling of proteins that stimulate bone growth.
Dietary phosphorus is also a key player in the hormonal process that controls bone metabolism and calcium; this hormone decreases calcium loss in urine, increases calcium absorption, and pulls calcium from the bones for use elsewhere in the body.
3. Brain Health
As previously mentioned, phosphorus is part of the makeup of a cell wall, and this becomes especially important when we talk about the brain. If the cells in the brain do not maintain a fluid layer that allows signals to be sent and received, function and development will decline.
4. Energy Supply
The process of breaking down foods in our bodies results in the production of ATP, adenosine triphosphate. As you may assume, this molecule contains three phosphorus atoms. This molecule can be used by almost any type of cell in the body and can be used in a variety of ways, making it an almost universal carrier of energy. Eating a well-balanced diet that incorporates phosphorus regularly will help maintain the regularity of this essential process.
5. pH Balance
It is extremely important for the fluids in our bodies to maintain their appropriate pH level (usually right around 7.0). Phosphorus is a key ingredient in helping with this process. Phosphorus works in many ways throughout the body to either raise the pH level when it gets too low, or lower the balance when it is getting too high.
As you can see, this is a necessary nutrient that helps maintain many crucial functions in our bodies. As previously mentioned, phosphorus deficiency is rare. However, it is still very important to make sure you are getting enough phosphorus in your diet so that your body can function at its best.
- Yogurt, 356 mg, 35% daily value in 6 ounces
- Salmon, 280 mg, 25% daily value in 3 ounces
- Organic raw milk, 247 mg, 24% daily value in 1 cup
- Steak (grass-fed), 209 mg, 20% daily value in 3 ounces
- Hard cheeses (e.g. romano), 197 mg, 20% daily value in 1 ounce
- Brazil nuts, 203 mg, 20% daily value in 1 ounce
- Lentils, 178 mg, 18% daily value in ½ cup
- Sunflower seeds, 186 mg, 18% daily value in 2 tbsp.
- Navy beans, 131 mg, 13% daily value in ½ cup
- Pumpkin seeds, 59 mg, 5% daily value in 1 cup
An overall good source of phosphorus is seafood (particularly fish), including cod, tuna, sardines, and scallops. Other food classes that tend to be rich in phosphorus are meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs (all organic). Vegetables, too are an excellent source of phosphorus. Some of the vegetables richest in this nutrient include cremini mushrooms, green peas, broccoli, and spinach. Most beans and nuts, in addition to those already mentioned, are good sources of phosphorus as well. Rye, millet, barley, and brown rice also contain relatively high levels of phosphorus per serving.
All in all, phosphorus is crucial to maintain normal body functions. Make sure you are eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that incorporates some of the items discussed above, and your body will have all the phosphorus it needs.