Phosphorus Deficiency & Toxicity Symptoms

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  • 0:02 Phosphorous
  • 0:53 Functions
  • 1:32 Deficiency
  • 2:39 Toxicity
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Phosphorus is a mineral needed by your body for strong bones and teeth and other body processes. Learn about the functions and sources of this major mineral, as well as what happens to your body if there is too little or too much, in this lesson.


Many of us enjoy the flavor and tartness of a cold glass of cola on a hot summer day. The refreshing taste of cola is thanks in part to the phosphoric acid it contains. Like most things in nutrition, moderate intake of a dietary substance is handled without problems by your body, but some experts worry that drinking too much cola can raise your consumption of phosphorus to harmful levels.

Phosphorus is a major mineral in your body needed to build strong bones and teeth, and it's what phosphoric acid is made out of. The concern is that too much phosphorus can cause your bones to lose calcium, which leads to a loss in bone density. In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at just what happens when you consume too much phosphorus, and we will also consider any effects that result from having too little in your body.


If you take a look at the makeup of your body, you see that the majority of phosphorus is found in your bones and teeth. This, by the way, is also where you store most of your calcium, which illustrates the close relationship between these two minerals that we will discuss later. Although phosphorus is concentrated in your bones, it can be found in cells throughout your body where it carries out a number of important functions. Besides its role as a mineral that builds strong bones and teeth, phosphorus also helps with the storage and usage of energy, supports growth and helps maintain acid-base balance in your cells.


As for sources of phosphorus, it's not a hard mineral to get into your body. This is not only due to the fact that it's present in certain soft drinks, like colas; we see that phosphorous is fairly abundant in protein-rich foods, such as meats, eggs and dairy products, and also found in plant-based foods, such as beans, grains and nuts.

In fact, phosphorus is obtained from so many different sources that taking in too little and reaching phosphorus deficiency is rare. However, some conditions, such as starvation, alcoholism or disorders of the digestive tract that interfere with nutrient absorption, could cause phosphorus levels to drop to a point of deficiency.

If a deficiency in phosphorus develops, you will not feel well and will display symptoms that include a lowered appetite, irritability, numbness and weakness. And, because we know the importance of phosphorus in bone health, you can expect symptoms that are associated with the bones, such as bone pain, fragile bones and poor bone and tooth development.


Even though phosphorus is obtained from many sources, taking in so much that you actually reach phosphorus toxicity is rare in a healthy person. However, those with kidney problems could reach harmful levels because the kidneys are responsible for removing excess phosphorus through the urine.

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