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What are the signs of phosphorus deficiency?


Phosphorus is a mineral that is essential for the proper functioning of several organs and body parts. It is found in bones and processed by the kidneys. Phosphorus, along with calcium, is crucial for building strong and healthy bones and teeth. In fact, 85% of the total phosphorus in the body is found in bones and teeth.

Phosphorus helps the body use calcium effectively and promotes bone mineralization, energy production, and cellular development. It also has several health benefits such as treating rickets, bone fractures, loose teeth, and gum disorders, maintaining normal kidney function and nerve impulse transmission, and helping with the normal growth and repair of body cells. Phosphorus also has a protective effect against certain types of cancer.

Phosphorus deficiency is rare, but can be caused by poor diet, eating disorders, medical conditions such as diabetes and inherited disorders, and alcohol addiction. It can be diagnosed through symptoms and blood tests, and treated with dietary supplements or phosphorus-rich foods and supplements in tablet form.

How much phosphorus should be taken daily?

Phosphorus is just as important as calcium for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. To achieve a proper balance of phosphorus and calcium, it is important to know the recommended daily intake of phosphorus. This may vary based on individual circumstances.

What are the signs and symptoms of phosphorus deficiency?

Some of the signs and symptoms that indicate that you are not getting enough phosphorus or are suffering from phosphorus deficiency are:

Weak Bones and Teeth: If you have weak teeth and bones and are not deficient in phosphorus, there may be a possibility of phosphorus deficiency. Your teeth and bones become so weak that they can break at any time and you feel weak throughout the day.

Joint Pain and Stiffness: Phosphorus plays a crucial role in the development and growth of your joints. Since most joints are directly attached to the bones, weak bones can lead to joint stiffness and pain. In this case, you will constantly feel stiffness in the joints.

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Lack of Energy: If you are constantly feeling low on energy, it may be due to a phosphorus deficiency. This is because phosphorus helps the body metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into energy.

Loss of Appetite: Loss of appetite can result from various problems. However, if you are experiencing a loss of appetite along with any of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be due to a lack of phosphorus in the body.

Bone-related symptoms such as bone pain or very weak bones that can break easily may also occur if your body is deficient in phosphorus. Loss of appetite can also make it difficult to increase phosphorus levels through diet.

When should I see a doctor?

If you experience confusion, changes in mental status, or irritable behavior. If you have muscle pain in a new location. If you feel nauseated and it interferes with your ability to eat and does not improve with medication.

If you experience vomiting (4 to 5 times in 24 hours). If you have diarrhea (4 to 6 bouts of loose stools in a 24-hour period) that does not improve with anti-diarrhea medication. If you have severe constipation that persists for 2 to 3 days and is not relieved by laxatives.

What is the cause of phosphorus deficiency?

You get phosphorus from the food you eat. If you don’t eat a proper diet or have a medical condition that makes it difficult to absorb minerals from food, you may be deficient in phosphorus.

Starvation: Phosphorus deficiency is rare. If a person doesn’t get enough of this mineral, their body compensates for the deficiency by reabsorbing phosphorus already present in their blood. Cases of starvation can lead to phosphorus deficiency. If you’re deficient in vitamin D or any other vitamin, you may have trouble absorbing other minerals like phosphorus and calcium.

Diabetes: Diabetes can also cause phosphorus deficiency, especially in people whose diabetes is mostly uncontrolled. In these cases, the body doesn’t make enough insulin and can’t break down fat as fuel. As a result, acid accumulates in the blood, lowering phosphorus levels.

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Alcohol Addiction: Malnutrition due to alcohol addiction can also occur. As a result, people addicted to drugs are deficient in nutrients, including phosphorus. Phosphorus deficiency is particularly common in people hospitalized for alcohol-related problems.

Diet: People being treated for eating disorders are often found to be high in calories and low in phosphorus, leading to phosphorus deficiency.

Genetic Disorders: There are genetic disorders that affect the body’s ability to store phosphorus. This disorder is often caused by the body excreting too much phosphorus through urine or not absorbing the mineral from food.

When does the risk of phosphorus deficiency increase? 

  • If you’re not getting enough magnesium from your diet, your body won’t be able to absorb enough phosphorus. The body needs magnesium to use phosphorus properly.
  • Malnutrition due to malabsorption or frequent vomiting
  • Hospitalized critically ill person
  • Vitamin D deficiency

How is phosphorus deficiency tested?

Phosphorus deficiency in the body is an uncommon condition. To increase your phosphorus levels without supplements, focus on foods that are high in phosphorus. However, not all foods that are rich in phosphorus are part of a healthy diet. For instance, processed foods contain high amounts of phosphorus. If you want to add more phosphorus to your diet, consult with a dietician or doctor.

What foods are rich in phosphorus?

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dry fruits and seeds (e.g. rajma)
  • Chicken
  • Most processed foods
  • Garlic
  • Clove
  • Thing
  • Custard
  • Milk
  • Milk drinks
  • Oat bran
  • Whole grains
  • Potato
  • Dry fruit
  • Ice cream
  • Curd
  • Seafood

How do you fix phosphorus deficiency?

To treat phosphorus deficiency, it is important to address the underlying condition. Your doctor may also recommend taking phosphorus supplements.

Calcium is considered necessary for strong bones and teeth, but phosphorus is equally important. If your diet is lacking in phosphorus, the calcium you are consuming will go to waste. To avoid this, be sure to include phosphorus in your diet as well.

Which diseases are caused due to deficiency of Phosphorus in the body?

Bone-Damaging Osteoporosis:

Your bones are made of a mixture of calcium and phosphorus. To maintain good bone health, the balance between these two nutrients should be normal. If the levels of either of these minerals are too high or too low, your bones can become weak. Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones and is caused by low levels of phosphorus. As the levels of phosphorus in the body decrease, bones lose density, become brittle, and break easily. The danger of osteoporosis caused by phosphorus deficiency is that the person affected by it may not feel any symptoms until a bone breaks.

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Bone Loss Osteomalacia:

A deficiency of phosphorus, along with a deficiency in calcium or vitamin D, can lead to a bone disease called osteomalacia. When the levels of phosphorus are low, bones become weak and soft, making them more susceptible to breaking. Osteomalacia is diagnosed sooner than osteoporosis because it develops with symptoms such as general bone pain and tenderness. Osteomalacia can cause permanent bone deformity and lead to bone loss, muscle pain, and changes in gait.

Decreased Function of Red Blood Cells:

Phosphorus deficiency also affects the way red blood cells function. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues in the body. Phosphorus is also involved in this process and a deficiency can disrupt it.

This can lead to bigger problems, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Increased risk of injury