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Phosphate - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

Phosphate is widely distributed in all the cells and body fluids, and plays a. vital role in enzyme reactions and tissue metabolism. The metabolism of phosphate and calcium is closely linked, and these minerals usually occur together in food. Their absorption, excretion, blood levels, and functions in bone formation are interrelated.

Phosphorus is widely distributed in the body tissues and fluids. About 80% of total body phosphorus (750 g) is in the bone as insoluble calcium salts, and the remaining 15% is in the skeletal muscles.


Eighty-five per cent of ingested phosphorus is absorbed. The organic phosphates are digested in the intestines to form inorganic phosphates of sodium, calcium and potassium, and are absorbed from the upper small intestine. Excess calcium and aluminum form insoluble phosphates and decrease phosphate absorption.

Benefits and functions of Phosphate

  • Phosphorus and calcium are necessary for bone formation.
  • Carbohydrates and fats require phosphate for their intermediate metabolism.
  • Many enzyme systems require phosphate for their action.
  • Phosphate is the principal anion in the cells.
  • Phosphate is an essential element in the phospholipid cell membranes, nucleic acids, and phosphoproteins required for mitochondrial function.
  • Phosphorus is the source of high energy bonds of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The energy stored in ATP fuels a wide variety of physiological processes.

Recommended dosage of Phosphate

The daily requirement is about 1 g (32.29 mmol), which is easily supplied in an average diet. Dietary deficiency; therefore, never occurs under normal circumstances.

Deficiency symptoms of Phosphate

Low serum phosphorus occurs during starvation, malabsorption; hyperparathyroidism, vitamin D deficiency, diabetic ketoacidosis, acute alcoholism, severe bums, nasogastric suction, and respiratory alkalosis; and with phosphate-binding antacids, intravenous glucose administration, and high estrogen doses in metastatic prostate cancer.

Intravenous glucose decreases plasma phosphorus because glucose and phosphate are deposited as glycogen, especially in the liver and muscles. The fall in plasma phosphorus is more rapid and profound with addition of insulin. Even 5% intravenous glucose may cause marked hypophosphatemia in a starving patient with alcoholism or vomiting, or with hemodialysis in renal failure. During intravenous feeding, when a phosphate-containing casein hydrolysate is used as protein source, low plasma phosphorus is not a problem. However, when glucose is used along with amino acid solutions as a protein source, hypophosphatemia becomes apparent.

Clinical Manifestations

Clinically, low phosphate. results in loss of appetite, nausea, weakness and malaise, and vitamin D- resistant rickets in children, and osteomalacia in adults. There is increased intestinal calcium absorption and urinary calcium excretion, while urinary phosphate excretion is diminished.

Food sources of Phosphate

As calcium and phosphorus exist together, their sources are similar.

VEGETARIAN :- Milk and milk products (except their fatty parts, such as cream, butter and ghee), beans, carrot, cauliflower, com, peas, potato and banana are good sources. Pumpkin seeds are rich in phosphorus and increase urinary phosphate excretion. Pumpkin seeds are therefore used in Thailand to prevent urinary bladder stone formation.

NON-VEGETARIAN :- Liver, egg, fish, and meat products are good sources.

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