Phosphorous is an essential mineral naturally found in many food items. About 85% availability of phosphorous is found mostly in association with calcium while 15% is evenly distributed across the cells and tissues in association with nitrogen.
It forms an integral part of the cell membrane and cell nuclei and play important role in gene transcription. The role of phosphorous is multifunctional and it helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, strong bone and teeth structure, gene transcription. However, its deficiency can be caused by renal failures.
Phosphorous works in association with calcium due to certain enzymes like vitamin D and maintain a strong bone structure and prevent dental caries. It is closely associated with the renal synthesis of calcitriol which depends upon the phosphorous supply. It also presents the cell nuclei which are responsible for the sortation of genetic information.
What is Phosphorous Deficiency?
Phosphorous deficiency is a condition that caused an inadequate supply of phosphorous for a very long time. It can be caused by the insufficient intake of phosphorous through diet. It can also be caused by malabsorption caused by a health condition like gastrointestinal disorders, renal failure, diabetes, and prolonged alcoholism.
Phosphorous deficiency leads to the health conditions like impaired bone mineralization, dental caries, and in case of severe deficiency osteoporosis and osteomalacia. It also causes rickets in children.
Causes of Phosphorous Deficiency
The condition of phosphorous deficiency can be developed due to various factors. Some of the major cause has been illustrated below:
- Inadequate Diet: The long-term deprivation of a phosphorus-rich diet is the common cause of its deficiency. The major source of phosphorous is animal products, nuts, and beans. It may be caused by the inaccessibility of these food items due to financial constraints in developing countries.
- Unavailability of Nutritious Food: The majority of the soil is deficient in the soil and widespread across the globe. It is caused by the overexploitation of fields and can be rectified by providing phosphate-rich fertilisers and fortified seeds.
- GI Disorders: Most of the phosphorous is present in bone and teeth however small amount of it present in cells and tissues absorbed during metabolism. Gastrointestinal disorders affect the absorption of phosphorous in the body lead to its deficiency.
- Renal Failure: Chronic kidney disorders leads to a phosphorous deficiency. It is caused by the renal leak of phosphorous and non-absorption of phosphorous during the process of reabsorption.
In addition to the major causes mentioned above, phosphorous deficiency can also be caused by chronic alcoholism and diabetes.
Symptoms of Phosphorous Deficiency
The common symptoms of phosphorous deficiency include:
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Bone loss
- Stiff joints
Health Risks due to Low Phosphorous
- Osteoporosis: Severe calcium deficiency compromises bone health and makes it susceptible to fractures or breaks even you sneeze. In this condition individual, the bone becomes porous and develops a honeycomb internal structure. It is mainly caused by calcium however the association of calcium and phosphorous together affects the bone in the case of hypophosphatemia.
- Osteomalacia: It is a health condition found in adults due to a lack of phosphorous. In this condition, the bone becomes soft due to impaired bone mineralization. It occurs in old age and makes bone susceptible to fracture.
- Impaired Metabolism: Phosphorous acts as a cofactor with enzymes and helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and releases energy. Its deficiency disrupts the metabolism cycle and energy production.
- Tooth Decay: Calcium in association with fluoride protects our teeth. Calcium deficiency results in tooth decay and severe case it may lead to large cavities.
- Rickets: Rickets is the impaired bone development rarely found in children and its primary cause is vitamin D deficiency. However, it can also be caused by phosphorous deficiency.
Tests for Phosphorous Deficiency
Phosphorous is the essential mineral present in the body. It is mostly concentrated in bone and teeth over a small quantity of phosphorous that is evenly distributed throughout the body.
- Blood Phosphorous Test: The most common test for phosphorous deficiency is the serum blood test. It measures the concentration of phosphorous in the body. The ideal range of phosphorous in the human body is 2.5-4.5 milligrams/decilitre.
- Blood Calcium Test: The invisible connection between calcium and phosphorous maintains a perfect balance between its concentrations. If the calcium blood test is atypical then the doctor may advise for phosphorous tests which might also be abnormal.
- Urine Test: The association of phosphorous and its reabsorption by the kidney helps in identifying the concentration of phosphorous from urine samples.
Ideally, we don’t require any precautions before the teat however, we should stop any sort of medications that might interfere with the concentrations of phosphorous in the body.
Remedies of Phosphorous Deficiency
- Phosphorous Supplements: The clinical remedy of phosphorous deficiency are to take phosphorous supplements. If you are diagnosed with severe Phosphorous deficiency, you should consider medical supplements under the supervision of doctors. As higher Phosphorous may have severe side effects.
- Phosphorous Rich Diet: The simple way to prevent phosphorous deficiency is the inclusion of phosphorus-rich food items in the daily diet. Some of the phosphorus-rich food items are Salmon, yogurt, milk and milk products, meat, beans, lentils nuts.
- Fortified Food Items: Several agricultural lands across the globe are poor in micronutrients which produces nutrient deficient food items. It can be overcome by using phosphorus-rich fertilizers and fortified seeds.
- Quit Alcoholism: Chronic alcoholism is the cause of several renal-related disorders. It caused the malfunctioning of the kidney and promotes renal leak of phosphorous.
Prevention of Phosphorous Deficiency
It is often said that “Prevention is better than Cure” and indeed this is very much true about micronutrient deficiencies. Phosphorous deficiency can be prevented through the consumption of Phosphorous rich diet.
- Milk products
Adequate Intake (>19 yrs.):
A simple way to prevent Phosphorous deficiencies is to maintain recommended daily intakes. The intakes of phosphorous vary with the different age groups however, the recommended daily intake of phosphorous for an adult is 700 mg.
Phosphorous is essential for maintaining the internal structure of bone, teeth, and cells and it plays various roles in providing a healthy body. It is found in the core of the nuclei and responsible for carrying genetic transcripts. It works in association with other vitamins and minerals to ensure the integrity of bone and cells.
Although Phosphorous deficiency has several ill effects, it can be treated with the right consultation and medical supplements as prescribed by medical experts however, a high concentration of phosphorous may be deadly. The best possible way to avoid these complications by consuming an adequate amount of Phosphorous as per RDA through various Phosphorous rich diets.