Phosphorus is a mineral that is present in every cell of your body; its key function is in the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

What are its health benefits?

About 80 percent of the body’s phosphorus is stored in the skeleton, making up as much as half the weight of your bones. Phosphorus is part of the chemical backbone of DNA and RNA, the chemical structures that carry your body’s genetic instructions. It also helps produce energy and helps with kidney function, muscle contractions, maintaining a normal heartbeat and nerve signalling.

The benefits of taking phosphorus supplements, or phosphate salts, could include the following:

  • May speed up the healing of broken bones
  • May reduce the loss of minerals from immobile limbs
  • Used to boost exercise performance
  • Used as an antacid for treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a digestive disorder
  • May reduce the risk of kidney stones
  • May help treat osteomalacia, a condition that leads to softening of the bones (it’s known as “rickets” when children contract it)
  • It has been used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • There’s evidence to suggest it alleviates fatigue in insulin-dependent diabetics.

Do you have a deficiency?

A phosphorus deficiency is fairly unlikely if you eat enough protein-rich foods, but the body finds it trickier to absorb and process phosphorus from non-animal sources.

Warning symptoms of a phosporus deficiency could include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Kidney stones
  • Tiredness
  • Twitching and muscle spasms
  • Loss of appetite

Find it in these foods

Phosphorus can be found in the following food sources:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Lentils, peanuts and pumpkin seeds are the best vegetarians sources
  • Nuts
  • Whole grain cereals

Recommended daily allowance (RDA)

The typical RDA for adults is approximately 700mg per day. However, when it comes to supplementation, first discuss the correct dose for yourself and your children with your Clicks pharmacist.

If you’re at risk for osteoporosis, make sure your calcium supplements come in the form of calcium phosphate. Research shows that upping your calcium alone could deplete your phosphorus levels, which actually depletes bone density, doing more harm than good.

Know the overdose risks

Not enough of this mineral is bad for your bones but, paradoxically, too much could also reduce their density.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015