What is it? Phosphorus is a macromineral, which means that relative to other nutrients, we need to get fairly large amounts of it each day from the foods we eat. Most of the phosphorus in the body is stored in the bones and teeth.
Why do we need it? Phosphorus is a busy mineral. Working together with fellow macromineral calcium, phosphorus helps to build bones and teeth. The mineral is also a building block of our genetic material. Other functions of phosphorus include helping the kidneys filter waste, keeping the heartbeat steady, storing energy, supporting the development and repair of tissues and cells, and assisting our bodies in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
How much do we need? A person's daily needs for phosphorus are designated in milligrams (mg) and will depend on age:
- 0 to 6 months of age: 100 mg
- 7 to 12 months of age: 275 mg
- 1 to 3 years of age: 460 mg
- 4 to 8 years of age: 500 mg
- 9 to 18 years of age: 1,250 mg
- 19 years of age and older: 700 mg
Where is it found? Foods high in phosphorus are often foods high in protein, such as dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, and fish, as well as nuts and legumes. Phosphorus turns up in carbonated beverages, as well as in whole grains, hard potatoes, and garlic.