Another major mineral, as opposed to many trace minerals, is phosphorus.
Within the body, approximately 80% of phosphorus will be found in the teeth and the bones. While many people believe that calcium is the mineral responsible for ensuring proper bone growth and maintenance, it actually does not perform this task without assistance. Calcium works together with phosphorous to accomplish its mission, which is why phosphorus is present in bones and teeth as calcium phosphate.
Other Functions Involving Phosphorus
In addition to its invaluable partnership with calcium in the growth and preservation of bones and teeet, phosphorus is necessary for many other bodily functions. In fact, it is believed that no other dietary mineral has as many responsibilities.
Probably, its next most important function is its involvement in the production of collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Bone is 75% collagen, but joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, eyes and skin are also made mostly of collagen. Without a steady supply of this valuable protein, the body would not be able to make the connective tissues and organs that are so vital to its function and survival.
Phospholipids, substances created when phosphorus unites with fatty acids, reside inside cell membranes. Because they are both water and fat soluble, phospholipids are actually what allows nutrients (both the fat and the water soluble kinds) to pass through cell membranes. Cells would die without a way to take in and expel both fat and water soluble nutrients.
Phosphorus also is what gives cells their energy as it is the main component of adenosine triphosphate or ATP. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. It is used broken down, re-created and reused constantly. While a body contains on average only 250 grams of ATP, it uses and re-uses an amount of the substance equal to its own weight per day.
Phospholipids also help keep blood at the proper consistency. As blood begins to clump together in large globules, it becomes more likely to get stuck to artery walls. As arteries become clogged, the risks for developing heart disease increase. Phospholipids help prevent blood from clumping in this manner.
The body also needs phosphorus to make lecithin, which in turn makes bile. Without these components, gallstones can develop. It also prevents cirrhosis of the liver, a build-up of fatty acids inside the liver. Phosphorus is also vital to the activity of the fat soluble vitamins, Vitamins A, D, E and K, as they cannot perform their functions without it.
Sources of Phosporus
Good sources of Phosphorus include many of the same foods that contain calcium. Milk, hard cheese, yogurt, eggs, canned fish, chicken, red meat, nuts, walnuts, almonds, whole wheat and wheat germ and pumpkin seeds are all good sources of this dietary mineral. The RDA of phosphorus is 1,000 mg for adults.
Phosphorus deficiencies are very rare since so many common foods, even those that are processed, contain this all-important mineral. Many of the additives in processed foods contain Phosphorus, and believe it or not, the need for Phosphorus is one situation in which eating processed foods may be better than being on a diet! However, even when dieting, eating a well-balanced diet will provide all the Phosphorus the body needs. And because the kidneys are able to eliminate any excess, there is practically no risk of the body maintaining levels that could become toxic.
Symptoms of deficiency
Like calcium, a phosphorus deficiency can lead to problems with the bones including Rickets, osteoporosis, stiff joints and pain in the bones. A deficiency can also cause anxiety, irritability, sensitive skin, stress, tiredness and weak teeth.
As pointed out, it is probably not necessary for most individuals to worry about taking a phosphorus supplement...if they can find one. If you are really concerned about not getting this important dietary mineral through the foods you eat, there are some daily multivitamins which do include it in their preparation, but do not be surprised if even the best daily multivitamin does not.