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Phosphorous is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, next to calcium. These two minerals work synergistically to promote strong teeth and bones. Phosphorous is also important to many other vital functions, helping to form cellular membranes and playing a role in the manufacture of ATP (a compound that controls the release of energy stored in cells). In addition, phosphorous helps transform carbohydrates, protein, and fat into energy. Dietary sources of phosphorous include: protein rich foods such as dairy products, poultry, meat, lentils, fish, and nuts. Other good sources are whole grains, hard potatoes, dried fruit, garlic cloves and carbonated beverages
Some athletes occasionally supplement with phosphorous before a heavy workout to reduce muscle pain and fatigue. Phosphorous and calcium are also used together to help those with osteomalacia and rickets.
North Americans usually consume adequate amounts of phosphorous in the diet, though certain populations are at risk for a phosphorous deficiency. Individuals with diabetes, gastrointestinal malabsorption, alcoholism, starvation, or those taking a large amount of aluminum-containing antacids are at risk for phosphorous deficiency. Signs of deficiency include reduced appetite, anxiety, bone pain and/or fragility, stiffness in the joints, breathing difficulties, irritability, weakness and weight change. It is also possible to consume too much phosphorous, which is usually caused by kidney disease, or consuming too much phosphorous in the diet relative to calcium. Be especially careful if you consume large amounts of carbonated beverages.
Because adequate amounts of phosphorous are usually consumed through the diet, phosphorous supplements should be used under the advice and supervision of a physician.
If you are supplementing with phosphorous, gastrointestinal discomfort may be a sign that you are not deficient in the mineral and are receiving enough through your diet.