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The Role of Phosphorus in Human Nutrition

Table of Contents

Phosphorus is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in human nutrition. It is involved in a wide range of physiological processes in the body, including the formation and maintenance of strong bones and teeth, the production and storage of energy, and the regulation of cell growth and division.

In this article, we will explore the functions and benefits of phosphorus in the body, as well as its recommended daily intake and dietary sources.

Brief History and Discovery

Phosphorus was first discovered in 1669 by a German alchemist named Hennig Brand, who isolated the element from human urine. Since then, phosphorus has been found to be a common element in the earth's crust and is widely distributed in nature.


Phosphorus is found in a variety of dietary sources, including dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. In addition, many processed foods, such as sodas, snack foods, and fast foods, contain added phosphorus in the form of phosphate additives.

Functions in the Body

Phosphorus is an essential component of bones and teeth, where it provides strength and rigidity. It also plays a key role in the production and storage of energy in the body, through its involvement in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the molecule that carries energy within cells.

Phosphorus is also important for the proper function of cell membranes and is involved in the regulation of pH balance in the body. It is necessary for the activation of many enzymes and hormones and plays a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily intake of phosphorus varies depending on age and sex. For adults, the recommended daily intake ranges from 700 to 1,250 milligrams per day. Pregnant and lactating women require higher amounts of phosphorus, as do children and adolescents, who require more for growth and development.

Recap and Conclusion

In conclusion, phosphorus is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in human nutrition. It is involved in a wide range of physiological processes in the body and is found in a variety of dietary sources. Adequate intake of phosphorus is necessary for optimal health and can help to promote strong bones and teeth, energy production, and proper cellular function. By incorporating phosphorus-rich foods into your diet, you can ensure that you are getting the necessary amount of this essential mineral.

Caroline Buckee

Caroline Flannigan is an epidemiologist. She is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and is the Associate Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

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