December 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Elements

Keywords: energy production, RNA, DNA, parathyroid hormone


Phosphorus (as phosphate) is a major constituent of all living cells and is found in all natural foods, particularly those rich in protein and calcium. Most of the phosphate in the human body is found in bone, but it is also an important constituent of cell membranes and the nucleic acids RNA and DNA, and is essential for energy production.

Good food sources

  • Cheese
  • Meat and fish
  • Nuts
  • Soy foods
  • Whole grains
  • Yeast

Deficiency symptoms

Phosphate deficiency in isolation is unlikely to occur in the western world due to the widespread availability of this nutrient. However some medical conditions can lead to low phosphate levels, causing problems such as osteomalacia, debility, weakness and mental confusion.


In the western world, soft drinks and food additives may contribute excessive levels of phosphate to the diet, often more than 1,000 mg a day. Ideally, phosphate intake should be similar to that of calcium. If the phosophorus intake is disproportionately high, the secretion of parathyroid hormone is stimulated, which promotes phosphorus excretion and causes calcium to be mobilized from the bone to the blood. A long-term imbalance between phosphorus and calcium can in this way eventually lead to osteoporosis.

Information compiled by Linda Lazarides
Naturopathic Nutritionist, Author, Educator

Linda Lazarides is Course Director of the School of Modern Naturopathy and author of eight books on health, nutrition and naturopathy.

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