Phosphorus is a mineral that is present in some foods and available in supplement form, usually paired with others. Phosphorus is a component of cells, is a part of both DNA and RNA and is also responsible for balancing most of the body’s fluids. Phosphorus also plays a major role in bone and calcium metabolism; approximately 80% of the body’s phosphorus stores are concentrated in the bones.
Phosphorus is available in a wide variety of foods, both plant and animal products. The body is much better equipped to convert phosphorous from animal products into usable form. The best sources of dietary phosphorus include chicken, turkey, fish such as salmon and pollock, shellfish such as clams, shrimp and scallops, milk, cheese, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, beans and lentils.
Phosphorus deficiency is very rare in the developed world. Some symptoms of phosphorus deficiency include stiffness of the joints, fatigue, anxiety, changes in body weight and breathing problems. The most common causes of deficiency include chronic alcoholism, diabetes, and eating disorders. It can take a long time for deficiency symptoms to appear, as the body will convert phosphorus stored in the blood and the bones into usable form, it is only after these stores have been depleted that serious deficiency sets in.