Phosphorus is one of the most important minerals for a healthy body! Here are a number of things phosphorus does for us:
Enables Basic Cell Function — Did you know that all cells have an outer shell, a membrane that helps to protect it from everything taking place outside of the cell? This membrane is both a defense mechanism and a structural component, so it’s vital to your basic cell function. The cell membrane is made from phospholipids, a combination of phosphorus and fats. The mineral is also found inside every cell in your body, and it’s the “glue” that holds your DNA together. It is necessary for the liquid floating inside each cell, which plays a role in multiple cellular processes.
Promotes Healthy Bones and Teeth — Oddly enough, the majority of the phosphorus in your body (up to 85% of the mineral) is found in your bones and teeth! Bone is primarily made from hydroxyapatite, a crystalline structure made of oxygen, hydrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorus are the two most important minerals for chemical structure of hydroxyapatite. Without phosphorus (and calcium, of course), your bones and teeth would be weaker and unable to support your weight.
The mineral phosphorus is also needed for the metabolism of bone. The phosphorus in your diet can help to regulate the production of new bone tissue, as the mineral is linked to an amino acid that signals the proteins that stimulate new bone growth. Having more phosphorus in your body helps to increase the levels of calcium, increasing the formation, repair, and growth of new bone tissue.
Note: Too much phosphorus in your diet can be bad for your bone health. Excess phosphorus leeches calcium from your bones, leading to problems with the metabolism of new bone. This is usually only common among those with advanced kidney disease.
Promoting a Healthy pH Balance — Your body is a complex mechanism, and there must be a specific balance between the alkaline and acidic. A neutral pH falls near 7.0, with a balance maintained. However, due to the high acidity of the food we eat and the environment in which we live, our average pH tends to be more acidic than alkaline. Foods that contain phosphorus will help to maintain a balanced pH level, and even push us more toward the alkaline than acidic. The mineral phosphorus will prevent our bodies from becoming either too acidic or alkaline, promoting a perfect balance between the two!
Energy Production — The body uses mostly glycogen as energy, but the muscles need a form of energy called ATP in order to function. ATP stands for “adenosine triphosphate”, which contains three forms of phosphorus or phosphate groups. Without phosphorus, your body would be unable to produce this ATP energy. ATP energy is used for much more than just your muscles, but it plays a role in many metabolic processes and cellular functions. It’s one of the most important forms of energy, and phosphorus is required for its production.
As you can see, phosphorus is one of the most important minerals for the human body. Without it, your cells would stop functioning properly, your pH balance would be thrown way out of sync, your bones would suffer, and you wouldn’t have the energy needed for your daily activities. All in all, phosphorus is a nutrient you MUST consume in adequate quantities.
Thankfully, there are a number of great food sources of phosphorus. Check out the table below to find the best foods to eat to get more phosphorus: