Second only to calcium, phosphorous is the most plentiful mineral in your body, and it is necessary for such processes as the production and storage of energy. However, getting too much phosphorus can be dangerous. The mineral can accumulate in your body if you have kidney disease or if you consume too much phosphorous and not enough calcium. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the amount of phosphorous in your body.
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Risks of Too Much Phosphorous
When your body has very high levels of phosphorous, the mineral can join with calcium in your blood and form deposits in your muscles and other soft tissues, causing them to harden. Phosphorous can interfere with your body’s use of other minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc and can cause diarrhea. In general, this typically occurs in people whose bodies have a severe dysfunction in the way they regulate calcium, or in those with severe kidney disease. However, because Western diets tend to be high in phosphorous, your levels can increase because of your food intake as well -- particularly if you also consume phosphorous supplements.
Balance of Calcium and Phosphorous
To keep your bones strong, you need to maintain a balance of the calcium and phosphorous in your body. The more phosphorous you consume, the higher your needs for calcium become. Because your body uses stored calcium from your bones when it does not get enough from what you eat, accumulating too much phosphorus in your body can affect your bone density and put you at risk for osteoporosis. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Western diets typically consist of two to four times more phosphorous than calcium. Maintaining a balance will lower your risk of osteoporosis and loss of bone mass.
Function and Sources
While dangerous in high levels, phosphorous is an essential nutrient for your body. It helps your kidneys get rid of waste and can reduce muscle pain after strenuous exercise. Your tissues and cells need phosphorus to grow and repair themselves, and the mineral aids in the regulation of your heart rate and the conduction in your nerves as well. According to both MedlinePlus and the University of Maryland Medical Center, adults need 700 milligrams of phosphorous a day. Good food sources include those rich in protein, such as fish and eggs, as well as dried fruit, garlic cloves and whole grains.
A deficiency of phosphorous can also be dangerous and result in symptoms like bone pain and fatigue. This is rare in the United States, and unless you have hypophosphatemia -- which is low phosphorous in the body -- or another medical condition, you will not likely need supplements to meet the RDA. Ask your doctor before you make dietary changes or begin taking new supplements to avoid getting too much phosphorous.