Phosphorous is an essential mineral naturally found in many of the food items. About 85% availability of phosphorous is found mostly in association with the calcium while 15% is evenly distributed across the cells and tissues in association with nitrogen. 

It forms the integral part of cell membrane and cell nuclei and play important role in gene transcription. The role of phosphorous is multifunctional and it helps in metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, strong bone and teeth structure, gene transcription. However, its deficiency can be caused by renal failures.

Functions of Phosphorous

Phosphorous works in association with calcium due to certain enzymes like vitamin D and maintain the strong bone structure and prevent from dental caries. It is closely associated with renal synthesis of calcitriol which depends upon the phosphorous supply. It also presents the cell nuclei which is responsible for the sortation of genetic information. 

What is Phosphorous Deficiency?

Phosphorous deficiency is condition caused inadequate supply of phosphorous for very long time. It can be caused by the insufficient intake of phosphorous through diet. It can also be caused by the malabsorption caused by the 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 sever 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 have been illustrated below:

  • Inadequate Diet: The long-term deprivation of phosphorous rich diet is the common cause of its deficiency. The major source of phosphorous is animal produce, nuts and beans.  It may be caused by the inaccessibility of these food item due to financial constraints in developing countries. 
  • Unavailability of Nutritious Food: Majority of the soil is deficient in soil and widespread across the globe. It 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 cell 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 phosphorous deficiency. It 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 the chronic alcoholism and diabetes.

Symptoms of Phosphorous Deficiency 

The common symptoms of phosphorous deficiency include:

  • Apatite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Numbness
  • Bone loss
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Stiff joints
  • Rickets

Health Risks due to Low Phosphorous

  • Osteoporosis: Severe calcium deficiency compromises bone health and makes it susceptible to fractures or break even you sneeze. In this condition individual the bone become porous and develop a honeycomb internal structure. It is mainly caused by calcium however the association of calcium and phosphorous together affects the bone in case of hypophosphatemia.
  • Osteomalacia: It is the health condition found in adults due to lack of phosphorous. In this condition the bone becomes soft due to impaired bone mineralization. It occurs in old age and makes bone susceptible for fracture. 
  • Impaired Metabolism: Phosphorous acts as cofactor with enzymes and help in metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and releases energy. Its deficiency causes disruption of metabolism cycle and energy production.
  • Tooth Decay: Calcium in association with fluoride protects our teeth. Calcium deficiency results in tooth decay and in 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 body. It is mostly concentrated in bone and teeth over small quantity of phosphorous is evenly distributed throughout the body. 

  • Blood Phosphorous Test: The most common tests for phosphorous deficiency is serum blood test. It measures the concentration of phosphorous in body. The ideal range of phosphorous in 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 doctor may advise for phosphorous tests which might also be abnormal.
  • Urine Test: The association of phosphorous and it 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 which might interfere with the concentrations of phosphorous in the body.

Remedies of Phosphorous Deficiency 

  • Phosphorous Supplements: The clinical remedies of phosphorous deficiency are to take phosphorous supplements. If you are diagnosed with severe Phosphorous deficiency, you should consider medical supplements under supervision of doctors. As higher Phosphorous may have severe side effects.
  • Phosphorous Rich Diet: The simple way to prevent phosphorous deficiency is inclusion of phosphorous rich food items in daily diet. Some of the phosphorous 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 phosphorous rich fertilizers and fortified seeds. 
  • Quit Alcoholism: Chronic alcoholism is the cause of several renal related disorders. It caused malfunctioning of 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 with reference to micronutrient deficiencies. Phosphorous deficiency can be prevented through consumption of Phosphorous rich diet.

Food items rich in phosphorous:

  • Salmon
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Milk products
  • Meat
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts 

Adequate Intake (>19 yrs.):

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 maintain the internal structure of bone, teeth and cells and it play various role in providing healthy body. It sis 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, high concentration of phosphorous may be deadly. The best possible way to avoid these complications by consuming adequate amount of Phosphorous as per RDA through various Phosphorous rich diet.