Phosphorous is an essential mineral that is found in all cells within the body. It makes up 1% of the total body weight and 85% of the body's phosphorous is found in the bones and teeth.
The main function of phosphorous is in the formation of bones and teeth. It plays an important role in the body's utilization of carbohydrates and fats and in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. It is also crucial for the production of ATP, a molecule the body uses to store energy. Phosphorous is important to cell membranes as they are made up of phospholipids. It therefore also acts a buffering agent, helping to maintain osmotic pressure. It plays a role in genetic (DNA and RND) reactions.
Phosphorous works with the B vitamins. It also assists in the contraction of muscles, the functioning of kidneys, maintaining regularity of heartbeat, and in nerve conduction. It regulates absorption of calcium and a variety of trace elements. Phosphorous also plays an important detoxification role in the liver.
Inadequate phosphorous intake results in abnormally low serum phosphate levels. This may result in loss of appetite, anaemia, muscle weakness, reproductive problems, fatigue, bone pain, rickets (in children), osteomalacia (in adults), increased susceptibility to infection, numbness and tingling of the extremities, stunted growth in children and difficulty walking.
Excessive amounts of phosphorous in the body can result in anaemia, hyperexcitability, arthritis, irritability, calcium, zinc and magnesium deficiency, tremors and diarrhoea.
Dietary sources of phosphorous include seafood, eggs, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, chickpeas, garlic, lentils, popcorn, soybeans, wheat bran and germ, wild rice, oats, brown rice, rye, chocolate, kelp and yeast.
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