What is phosphorus?
Phosphorus is a mineral. Highly reactive, it is never found in its free form it nature. Present as phosphate in every cell of the body, it is a nutrient required by all organisms for the basic processes of life, from energy storage to the formation of bones and teeth.

Why is phosphorus necessary?
Healthy bones and soft tissues require phosphorus (along with calcium) to grow and develop throughout life. Optimum phosphate levels also promote healthy metabolism, the utilization of many B-complex vitamins, proper muscle and nerve function, and calcium balance. Phosphates are used to treat a variety of ailments, including constipation, kidney stones, and high blood calcium levels.

What are the signs of a deficiency?
Muscle weakness is the most common symptom of phosphate deficiency; this can include impairment of heart contraction. Other symptoms may include confusion, seizures and coma.

How much, and what kind, does an adult need?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Academy of Sciences has recommended adults ages 18 years and older, including pregnant or breastfeeding women get 700 milligrams of phosphorus per day. Dr. Weil recommends getting this amount from diet alone.

How much does a child need?
The NIH recommends adequate intake in infants 0-6 months-old of 100 mg per day (additional phosphorus may be added to infant formulas); for infants 7-12 months old, 275 milligrams per day; for children 1-3 years old, 460 milligrams per day; children between 4 and 8 is 500 milligrams per day; and children ages 9-18 years old is 1,250 milligrams per day.

How do you get enough phosphorus from foods?
Good dietary sources of phosphates include milk, cheese, dried beans, peas, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and peanut butter.

Are there any risks associated with too much phosphorus?
Excess phosphate intake can result in hyperphosphatemia (high blood phosphorus levels) which can lead to potentially serious electrolyte imbalances and even death.

Are there any other special considerations?
Excessive intake of phosphorus (or phosphate) supplements may worsen conditions such as heart disease, pancreatitis, rickets, osteomalacia (softening of bones), high blood pressure, and liver and kidney disease. Talk with your physician before taking phosphorus supplements if you have any health conditions.

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