Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the human body. It is estimated that phosphorus represents about 1% of body weight! So let's try to understand what phosphorus is used for, in which foods it is contained and why, in general, it is better to avoid phosphorus supplements.
Phosphorus is one of the basic components of bones and teeth. Not only that, phosphorus participates in all those biological processes that aim to produce and store energy but also in various functions of the human body such as the filtering work of the kidneys and the action of the immune system (Calvo et al, Adv Nutr, 2015). On the other hand, there is no scientific proof that taking phosphorus supplements can improve memory and concentration. In addition to this, it should also be considered that, in health conditions, the more phosphorus is taken in, the more phosphorus is eliminated. Then, as we will see, the diet already ensures more than adequate levels, sometimes even higher than the needs, of this mineral.
Phosphorus, in which foods it is found
Several foods contain phosphorus that can be easily be assimilated by the body. However, there are exceptions. Specifically, grains, nuts and legumes contain a form of phosphorus that is less available to the body (Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press, 1997). Therefore, the best sources of phosphorus are protein-rich foods such as meat, milk, cheese, poultry and fish (Takeda et al, Nutr Rev, 2012).
Phosphorus, supplements and excessive doses
Normally there is no need to resort to phosphorus supplements, the amount of which introduced with the diet in an adult often exceeds the daily requirement, around 600 mg per day. The only exceptions are children and adolescents, who instead have an increased need for phosphorus due to rapid bone growth, or people who suffer from diabetes or who take certain medicines such as antacid drugs. So, apart from these conditions that in any case should be discussed with your doctor, there is normally no need to resort to phosphorus supplements (Calvo et al, Adv Nutr, 2015). In fact, even an excess of phosphorus can be harmful with possible damage to the heart and kidneys (Shimada et al, In Vivo, 2019).