Phosphorus: properties, benefits and food list

Phosphorus: properties, benefits and complete list of foods that contain it

When it comes to calcium and its metabolism, one cannot fail to mention the phosphorus. This is another essential element for the proper functioning of the body. The name derives from the Greek phosphoros what does it mean “Light carrier”: it derives from the fact that, by joining with oxygen, it causes a weak luminescence. But let’s see some chemical details, what it is for, the main functions and hints of its metabolism.

Phosphorus in chemistry: outline

The phosphorus, in the periodic table of elements, has like atomic number 15 and how P symbol. Technically it is a non-metal that is part of the nitrogen group. At room temperature it occurs in solid form, while above 44 degrees it becomes liquid.

It is found in nature in the form of phosphate, that is, the salt of phosphoric acid: we find it both in rocks and in the body of living beings. IS insoluble in water and soluble in organic solvents.

There is the white phosphorus, crystalline, flammable and red phosphorus, non-flammable and non-poisonous. There are also rare forms of purple phosphorus and black phosphorus. Being a non-metal, it forms almost only covalent bonds. In its compounds it can have oxidation numbers between -5 and +5.

A curiosity: phosphorus trihydride, or PH3, is a colorless gas known as phosphine and that smells terribly of rotten fish. It seems that phosphine is the basis of the phenomena of fuochi fools.

Second curiosity: thephosphoric acid H3PO4 (orthophosphoric acid) is very corrosive. It is used to produce fertilizers and detergents.

Third curiosity: i phosphates are found mainly used in fertilizers.

Absorption and elimination

It is present in the body in both organic and inorganic form. We find it especially in bones and teeth, but it is also present in the blood and soft tissues.

Lā€™absorption of this element begins with that of inorganic phosphate, possible thanks to vitamin D. The elimination, on the other hand, occurs mainly with the inorganic form via the faeces and urine. About the one eliminated in the urine: the paratormone produced by the parathyroid glands, not only increases the release of calcium from the bones by increasing calcium, but also reduces phosphorus by decreasing its renal reabsorption and thus increasing the amount excreted in the urine.

What is phosphorus used for?

Like calcium, phosphorus also plays different functions in the body:

  • it is part of the bones and teeth in the form of hydroxyapatite and tricalcium phosphate
  • it is present in ATP and phosphocreatine
  • contributes to the regulation of blood pH
  • it is part of proteins, enzymes, phospholipids, nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and nucleotides
  • intervenes in the metabolism of glucose, fats and carbohydrates (energy production processes)
  • activates several vitamins
  • stimulates muscle contractions
  • helps kidney function
  • it intervenes in the transmission of nerve impulses

If they intrigue you, however, the industrial uses of phosphates, here it is used above all:

  • as a fertilizer (especially phosphoric acid and phosphates)
  • production of sodium lamps and porcelain
  • as a leavening
  • production of steels and bronzes
  • limescale reduction (trisodium phosphate)
  • production of bombs and bullets (especially the white one)
  • production of matches
  • increases the conductivity of semiconductors

Deficiency of phosphorus in the human body: symptoms


The phosphorus deficiency it is difficult to see as this element is present in many foods, both of animal and vegetable origin. Usually the reported deficiencies are due either to the presence in foods of other substances that block their absorption or to the abuse of certain categories of drugs such as antacids.

I symptoms of a deficiency I am:

  • weakness
  • anorexia
  • feeling of being unwell
  • demineralization of bones
  • muscle achiness
  • nervousness, anxiety
  • tiredness
  • mental confusion
  • attention deficit
  • rickets
  • osteoporosis

Causes of hypophosphatemia

Among the main ones causes of low phosphorus The hypophosphatemia we have:

  • diabetes mellitus
  • use of antacids
  • cortisonici

Here you will find an in-depth study on low phosphorus, causes, symptoms and what to do.

Excess of phosphorus: symptoms

One excess phosphorus it is just as harmful as a deficiency. Symptoms from excess are:

  • itch
  • bone fragility
  • joint pain
  • calcification of the vessel walls
  • hypertension
  • changes in heart rhythm
  • anemia

Causes of hyperphosphatemia

The main ones causes of high phosphorus The hyperphosphatemia I am:

  • kidney failure
  • pseudoipoparathyroidism
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • diabetic ketoacidosis
  • crushing trauma
  • rhabdomyolysis
  • septicemia
  • tumor lysis
  • enemas containing phosphorus

Here is a helpful insight into high phosphorus, including symptoms, causes, and what to do to lower it.

Phosphate poisoning: symptoms

It is an extremely element poisonous, with lethal dose of 1 mg. Obviously we are not referring to that present in foods or supplements, but to some of its compounds such as the white one whose contact without precautions can cause burns. Also a chronic poisoning causes damage to the bones, while the phosphoric organs are used as poisons that cause seizures and damage to the nervous system.

Foods rich in phosphorus

phosphorus foods

Foods rich in phosphorus I am:

  • cereals
  • vegetables
  • latte
  • cheeses
  • beef
  • chicken
  • fish
  • legumes
  • dried fruit

From i fish that contain more phosphorus we have sea bass, sea bream, sturgeon (including caviar) and anchovies.

About the link between phosphorus, memory and fish. For a long time we have heard that fish is rich in this element and that this is good for the brain, intelligence and memory. Consuming fish has actually been shown to improve intelligence, but this is not due to this mineral, but to the fact that fish is rich in fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.

How to integrate phosphorus?

For what concern daily requirement of phosphorus, depending on the texts consulted, the data may vary a little. In general:

  • infants: 300 mg / day
  • 6 mesi ā€“ 1 year: 600 mg/die
  • 1 ā€“ 10 anni: 800 mg/die
  • 11 ā€“ 24 anni: 1200 mg/die
  • over 25 years: 800 mg / day

In the event that doing the blood tests it is highlighted a deficiency, in addition to changing the diet, you can use supplements to try to raise blood levels. Always ask your doctor before starting a supplement.

Phosphorus, an indispensable element

The phosphorus it is a fundamental element for the proper functioning of the body. Although its deficiency is rare, in particular health conditions it is possible to highlight a form of hypophosphatemia. Always contact yours doctor to evaluate which diagnostic tests are necessary to trace the causes of the alteration in blood levels of phosphorus and which therapy to set.

Source: GreenStyle by

*The article has been translated based on the content of GreenStyle by If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much!

*We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language.

*We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards!