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General Description

Phosphorus is a nonmetallic mineral essential in the human diet. As a constituent of phosphate, phosphorus plays an important role in virtually all cellular metabolic activities. Phosphate is required for the formation of phospholipids, which are key structural components of cell membranes. It is also essential for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) the chief energy storage material for all cells. Phosphates are needed for fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism, muscle contraction, hormone production, protein synthesis, brain and nerve function, and for maintaining strong bones and teeth. 80 to 90 percent of the body's phosphorus is found in the bones and teeth, in the form of calcium phosphate. Other important phosphate compounds in the body include phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine.

Food Sources

Phosphorus is abundant in many different foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Health Applications

  • General nutrition
  • Bone health
  • Dental health


The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for phosphorus is 1,000 mg per day. Most people get adequate phosphorus from their normal diet. Because phosphorus competes with other minerals for absorption, excess phosphorus can lead to deficiencies in calcium and zinc. Phosphorus supplementation is normally recommended only for people with clinical deficiency demonstrated by blood mineral tests.