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Phosphorus

Cooked Turkey

What does it do?

The mineral phosphorus is a major component of bones and teeth, second only to calcium. Phosphorus helps to maintain a normal pH (acid-base balance) in the body and generates and utilizes energy.

What are the best food sources?

Almost all foods contain phosphorus. Particularly rich sources include dairy products (milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese), meat, poultry, fish, tofu and eggs. Food additives added during food processing can also contribute to phosphorus intake, such as the phosphoric acid found in soft drinks.

What happens if you don’t get enough?

Phosphorus deficiency is quite rare in healthy individuals. Dietary phosphorus deficiency is usually only seen in those near total starvation, chronic users of aluminum-containing antacids, alcoholics and diabetics recovering from ketoacidosis (a condition in which the blood becomes acidic). Deficiency results in low blood levels of phosphorus, which is characterized by anorexia, anemia, muscle weakness, bone pain, confusion, increased susceptibility to infection, difficulty walking and, in severe cases, death.

Consuming high doses of aluminum-containing antacids can result in abnormally low blood phosphate levels. The aluminum in these antacids can bind with phosphorus, making it unavailable to the body. Individuals consuming chronically high doses of aluminum-containing antacids should consult with a physician.

What happens if you get too much?

Excess phosphorus intake from any source results in elevated blood phosphate levels. This condition is rare in healthy individuals and is observed mainly in people with end-stage renal disease and hypervitaminosis D. The adverse effects of this condition include reduced calcium absorption and calcification of tissues, particularly the kidneys.

How much do you need?

The following table lists the recommended intake for healthy people based on current scientific information.

Life Stage Group Age Range Recommended Dietary Allowance/Adequate Intake Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)
Infants 0-6 mo. Not determinable for infants due to lack of data on adverse effects in this age group and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Infants 7-12 mo. Not determinable for infants due to lack of data on adverse effects in this age group and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Children 1-3 yr. 3000 milligrams/day
Children 4-8 yr. 3000 milligrams/day
Males 9-13 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Males 14-18 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Males 19-30 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Males 31-50 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Males 51-70 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Males > 70 yr. 3000 milligrams/day
Females 9-13 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Females 14-18 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Females 19-30 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Females 31-50 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Females 51-70 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Females > 70 yr. 3000 milligrams/day
Pregnancy < 18 yr. 3500 milligrams/day
Pregnancy 19-30 yr. 3500 milligrams/day
Pregnancy 31-50 yr. 3500 milligrams/day
Lactation < 18 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Lactation 19-30 yr. 4000 milligrams/day
Lactation 31-50 yr. 4000 milligrams/day

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