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Phosphorous is a multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group. It is found in nature in several allotropic forms, and is an essential element for the life of organisms. There are several forms of phosphorous, called white, red and black phosphorous, although the their colors are more likely to be slightly different. White phosphorous is the one manufactured industrial; it glows in the dark, is spontaneously flammable when exposed to air and is deadly poison. Red phosphorous can vary in color from orange to purple, due to slight variations in its chemical structure. The third form, black phosphorous, is made under high pressure, looks like graphite and, like graphite, has the ability to conduct electricity.
Applications: Concentrated phosphoric acids are used in fertilizers for agriculture and farm production. Phosphates are used for special glasses, sodium lamps, in steel production, in military applications (incendiary bombs, smoke screenings etc.), and in other applications as: pyrotechnics, pesticides, toothpaste, detergents.
Phosphorous In The Environment: In the natural world phosphorous is never encountered in its pure form, but only as phosphates, which consists of a phosphorous atom bonded to four oxygen atoms. This can exists as the negatively charged phosphate ion (PO4 3-), which is how it occurs in minerals, or as organophosphates in which there are organic molecules attached to one, two or three of the oxygen atoms.
The amount of phosphorous that is naturally present in food varies considerably but can be as high as 370 mg/100 g in liver, or can be low, as in vegetable oils. Foods rich in phosphorous include tuna, salmon, sardines, liver, turkey, chicken, eggs and cheese (200 g/100 g).
There are many phosphate minerals, the most abundant being forms of apatite. Fluoroapatite provides the most extensively mined deposits. The chief mining areas are Russia, USA, Morocco, Tunisia, Togo and Nauru. World production is 153 million tones per year. There are concerns over how long these phosphorous deposits will last. In case of depletion there could be a serious problem for the worlds food production since phosphorus is such an essential ingredient in fertilizers.
In the oceans, the concentration of phosphates is very low, particularly at the surface. The reason lies partly within the insolubility of aluminum and calcium phosphates, but in any case in the oceans phosphate is quickly used up and falls into the deep as organic debris. There can be more phosphate in rivers and lakes, resulting in excessive algae growth. For further details go to environmental effects of phosphorous.
HEALTH EFFECTS OF PHOSPHORUS
Because of its powerful contribution to bone health, Phosphorus is often regarded as a twin nutrient to calcium. It is a major mineral and so abundant in the body that the average person normally retains about a pound and a half of it. Phosphorous is involved, either directly or indirectly, in nearly every biological or cellular function in the body.
Phosphorus is needed to work with calcium for bone and tooth formation and hardening of bones and teeth. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus in bones is two-to-one. The body relies on phosphorus to create ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a compound that regulates the release of energy stored in cells and phosphorus is involved in cell growth. Contraction of the heart muscle, and kidney function requires phosphate. It also assists the body in the utilization of vitamins and the conversion of food to energy, playing an important role in transforming proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into fuel. A proper balance of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus should be maintained at all times. If one of these minerals is present either in excessive or insufficient amounts, this will have adverse effects on the body.
Phosphorus is needed for blood clotting. Phosphorus is also needed to help maintain the blood's acid balance, or pH. It helps fats to enter the bloodstream by making them water soluble. It strengthens cells walls, and supports the transport of nutrients and various hormones throughout the body.
Deficiencies of phosphorus are rare, but can lead to such symptoms as anxiety, bone pain, fatigue, irregular breathing, irritability, numbness, skin sensitivity, trembling, weakness, and weight changes.
PHOSPHORUS HEALTH BENEFITS, USES & SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
More than adequate amounts of Phosphorus are readily available in the average diet.
However, people who regularly take large amounts of antacids that contain aluminum may be deficient in phosphorus. Rarely, complications of diabetes, gastrointestinal malabsorption, or kidney malfunction also cause a shortfall in phosphorus. And recent research has discovered that following a severe burn injury, there is significant loss of phosphorus. In these situations, extra Phosphorus ingested through supplements may help.
Although rare, too little phosphorus can lead to fragile bones and teeth, weakness and fatigue, appetite loss, joint pain and stiffness, and extra susceptibility to infection. Small deficiencies can mildly deplete energy.
Because of health risks associated with too much of this mineral, phosphorus should never be taken without a health care providers's recommendation and supervision. In fact, there is more risk involved with getting too much phosphorous than too little. (For more information, see Cautions, below.)
But in the rare cases in which deficiencies appear, extra dietary or supplemental phosphorus may help.
ANTACID DEFICIENCY CONNECTION
Offset a deficiency related to antacid use. The aluminum contained in many antacid products can bind with phosphorus, making it unavailable for use in the body. So if you take large quantities of antacids, talk with your health care provider about whether you might need supplemental Phosphorus or a change of antacids to one that does not interfere with phosphorus uptake in the body.
Phosphorus aids burn recovery. If you have suffered a major burn, your body may have lost a lot of phosphorus, bringing your levels below the minimum daily amount needed. Ask your health care provider whether you might need phosphorus supplements while you are recovering.
PHOSPHORUS DIETARY SOURCES
Phosphorus deficiency is rare because this mineral is found in most foods, especially carbonated soft drinks (colas in particular) and processed cooked foods.
Significant amounts of phosphorus are contained in asparagus, bran, Brewer's Yeast, corn, dairy products, eggs, dried fruit, garlic, legumes, nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and whole grains. High-protein staples as meat, fish, salmon, dairy products, and poultry are good sources of phosphorus.
LIST OF FOODS HIGH IN PHOSPHORUS
1. Rice Bran: Rice bran is commonly used for making a wide range of baked goods such as breads, muffins and cookies. This high fiber food is also used in breakfast cereals. It is an excellent source of this mineral with 100 gm of rice bran having 1677 mg Phosphorus.
2. Pumpkin Seeds & Squash Seed: Pumpkin and squash seeds have been regarded as some of the best sources of minerals and other nutrients for a long period of time. The roasted seeds are often added to green salads and sautéed vegetables while they are eaten as snacks as well. The seeds are also added to cakes and cookies to enhance their flavor and taste. Hundred grams of these seeds has 1172 mg phosphorus.
3. Sunflower Seed: Sunflower seeds are highly regarded and popularly used for various purposes all over the world for their tender texture and nutty taste. These seeds are rich in phosphorus as well as many other nutrients like vitamin E and magnesium. The phosphorus content in 100 gm sunflower seeds is 1158 mg. The roasted seeds can be added to various fish and chicken dishes as well as to mixed green salads.
4. Wheat Germ: Toasted wheat germ is a highly nutritious food and an excellent source of phosphorus. There is 1146 mg phosphorus content in 100 gm of roasted wheat germ. It can be eaten as a snack or can be added to salads, cereals and desserts to enhance their flavor and taste.
5. Sesame Seed: Sesame seeds are highly regarded for their nutty taste and rich nutritional value. Each 100 gm of these seeds contain 774 mg phosphorus, making it a great source for the essential mineral. Sesame seeds are used as the main ingredient for making sesame butter or tahini. They are also added to homemade baked foods like muffins, cookies and bread. Sesame seeds are added to various chicken and vegetable dishes as well.
6. Watermelon Seed: Watermelon seeds are highly nutritious with their rich vitamin and mineral content. These seeds contain 750 mg phosphorus per 100 gm. Watermelon seeds are generally consumed as snacks after roasting them properly. Their nutty taste makes them suitable to be added to various baked foods.
7. Brazil Nut: Brazil nuts are very popular for their delicious taste and high nutritional value. These nuts are a good source of phosphorus with 100 gm of Brazil nut containing 725 mg of the essential mineral. Roasted Brazil nuts are commonly eaten as snacks. They are also added to cakes, cookies, chocolates, salads as well as various soups and vegetable dishes.
8. Oat Bran: It is another excellent source for phosphorus with 100 gm of oat bran containing around 700 mg of the essential mineral. Like rice bran, oat bran is used for preparing a wide range of baked food items such as muffins, breads, cookies and muffins. It is also used in breakfast cereals.
9. Soybeans: Soybeans are highly nutritious and are used in various different foods in different forms. Roasted soybeans are rich in various vitamins and minerals with each 100 gm serving containing 649 mg phosphorus. They are popularly consumed as snacks and are also added to soups and vegetable stews.
10. Flax Seeds: Flax seeds are packed with numerous essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-1, fibers, magnesium and phosphorus. Flax seeds have 642 mg phosphorus content in each 100 gm serving. These seeds are often ground to be added to cakes, cookies and muffin. They can also be added to other baked foods like casseroles, pizza crusts and dinner rolls.
11. Bacon: Bacon is a highly nutritious food with high vitamin B-3, selenium and phosphorus contents. A 100 gm serving of bacon provides around 591 mg of phosphorus. However, it also has high cholesterol levels, making it unsuitable for individuals with high risk of various cardiovascular diseases.
12. Cashew Nut: The sweet taste, delicate flavor and high nutritional value of cashew nut make it one of the most popular nuts all over the world. There is 593 mg of phosphorus in each 100 gm of this nut. It is consumed both raw and roasted as a snack. Cashew is often added to stir-fried dishes and salads for enhancing their taste and flavor. It is also the main ingredient in the delicious nut butter.
13. Pine Nut: The edible seeds of various pine species are known as pine nuts. They have high phosphorus content with each 100 gm of pine nuts having 575 mg of the essential mineral. These nuts can be eaten raw or roasted as a snack. They are added to various meat, fish and vegetable dishes as well as baked foods and salads.
14. Almond: Almonds contain 484 mg phosphorus per 100 gm serving. Although commonly referred to as nuts, they are the seeds of the almond fruits. Like many other nuts and seeds, whole almonds can be consumed raw or roasted as a snack. Additionally, they are used for preparing various foods from baked goods to salads. Almonds are often shredded before they are added to various dishes.
15. Peanut: Peanuts have many health benefits to offer with their high nutritional value. There is 376 mg phosphorus in 100 gm of these nuts. Peanuts can be sprinkled on sautéed vegetable and chicken dishes as well as salads for enhancing their taste and flavor. Peanuts are also used in various beverages and baked foods.
Other Phosphorus Rich Foods: There are numerous other foods with high phosphorus contents. Some of these food items are mentioned in the following list:
VEGETABLES Lentils Broccoli Peas Artichokes Avocado Potato Asparagus Carrots Summer Squash Winter Squash Corn Cauliflower Garlic FRUITS Raisins Banana Prunes (Dried) Kiwi Fruit Nectarines Figs Mango NUTS & SEEDS Poppy Seeds Hazelnut Walnut Pistachio Chestnut MILK & DAIRY PRODUCTS Milk Swiss Cheese Mozzarella Cheese Butter Yogurt Sour Cream Ice Cream FISHES Halibut Salmon Tuna Cod Whiting Sardines MEATS Beef Turkey Chicken
According to some research, human body can absorb phosphorus more easily from meat products compared to plant based foods.
This essential mineral is present in almost all food items, which means phosphorus deficiency is a very rare condition. It is important to remember that excess phosphorus intake can be harmful for the human body. In case of exceedingly high phosphorus levels in blood, the body sends calcium from bones into the blood stream for restoring the normal phosphorus-calcium balance. The transfer of calcium leads to bone weakening and possible calcification of various internal organs. This increases the chances of certain vascular diseases as well as heart attack.
PHOSPHORUS DOSAGE INFORMATION
The Recommended Daily Allowance for Phosphorus is 700 to 800 mg daily. Most people get this amount or more, between 1,000 and 2,000 mg is average for the American adult, through their everyday diet, depending on the extent to which phosphate-rich foods are consumed. Daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplements often contain small amounts of this mineral as well.
Excessive amounts of phosphorus interfere with calcium uptake. A diet consisting of junk food and high in processed cooked foods is a common culprit. Vitamin D increases the effectiveness of phosphorus.
In the presence of heavy antacid use, ask your health care provider if you need to supplement with Phosphorus or a change of antacids.
For burn recovery, ask your health care provider if you need to supplement with Phosphorus.
PHOSPHORUS SAFETY, CAUTIONS & INTERACTIONS
Phosphorus can be found in the environment most commonly as phosphates. Phosphates are important substances in the human body, because they are part of DNA materials and they take part in energy distribution. Phosphates can also be found commonly in plants. Humans have changed the natural phosphate supply radically by addition of phosphate-rich manures to the soil and by th e use of phosphate-containing detergents. Phosphates were also added to a number of foodstuffs, such as cheese, sausages and hams.
Other than the decrease in Phosphorus absorption caused by aluminum-containing antacids, there are no other known drug or nutrient interactions with phosphorous.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
Phosphorus supplements can cause diarrhea, although this is often a signal that there is no deficiency to start with. Other gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain may also occur.
Never take Phosphorus supplements without medical supervision and dietary need. Do not take phosphorus if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Too much phosphorus can cause health problems, such as kidney damage and osteoporosis, and can result in dangerous imbalances of other vital nutrients. In particular, it can alter levels of certain hormones in a way that results in the depleting of both calcium and phosphorous from the bones. Ironically, people who drink large quantities of carbonated soft drinks, which are high in phosphorous, tend to lack sufficient calcium, largely because they are usually drinking less milk or other calcium-rich beverages.
Phosphate shortages can also occur. These are caused by extensive use of medicines. Too little phosphate can cause health problems.
Phosphorus Toxicity: Phosphorus in its pure form has a white color. White phosphorus is the most dangerous form of phosphorus that is known to us. When white phosphorus occurs in nature this can be a seriooous danger to our health. White phosphorus is extremely poisonous and in many cases exposure to it well be fatal. In most cases people that died of white phosphorus exposure had been accidentally swallowing rat poison. Before people die from white phosphorus exposure, they often experience nausea, stomach cramps and drowsiness.
ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF PHOSPHORUS (WHITE PHOSPHORUS) & PHOSPHATES
White phosphorus enters the environment when industries use it to make other chemicals and when the army uses it as ammunition. Through discharge of wastewater white phosphorus ends up in surface waters near the factories that use it. White phosphorus is not likely to spread, because it reacts with oxygen fairly quickly. When phosphorus ends up in air through exhausts it will usually react with oxygen right away to be converted into less harmful particles. However, when phosphorus particles are in air they may have a protective coating that prevents chemical reactions. In water, white phosphorus is not reacting with other particles that quickly and as a result it will accumulate in the bodies of aquatic organisms. In soil phosphorus will remain for several days before it is converted into less harmful substances. But in deep soils and the bottom of rivers and lakes phosphorus may remain for a thousand years or so.
Phosphates have many effects upon organisms. The effects are mainly consequences of emissions of large quantities of phosphate into the environment due to mining and cultivating. During water purification phosphates are often not removed properly, so that they can spread over large distances when found in surface waters. Due to the constant addition of phosphates by humans and the exceeding of the natural concentrations, the phosphor cycle is strongly disrupted. The increasing phosphor concentrations in surface waters raise the growth of phosphate-dependent organisms, such as algae and duckweed. These organisms use great amounts of oxygen and prevent sunlight from entering the water. This makes the water fairly unliveable for other organisms. This phenomenon is commonly known as eutrophication.
PHOSPHORUS SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTS
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