Phosphorus is the chemical element at number 15 in the periodic table, symbol P. In its pure form, it is highly toxic. However, when incorporated into cellular compounds, it is an essential mineral.
About 80% of phosphorus is found in bones and teeth. The remainder is distributed in muscle, brain cells, and blood. The levels of phosphorus in blood is controlled by calcitonin and parathyroid hormone. Most is excreted in the urine, some is eliminated in faeces.
Sources include meat, fish, poultry and nuts. They are so ubiquitous that deficiency does not occur.
Phosphorus is required for the formation of bones and teeth. It acts as a buffer in the blood and plays an important role in muscle contraction and nerve activity. It is a component of many enzymes and is involved in the transfer and storage of energy e.g. ATP and creatinine phosphate. It is a component of nucleic acids and B group vitamins.
Last reviewed 01/2018