Why Does a Child Need Phosphorus?
Posted on February 03 2022,
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral found in the human body, with calcium being the first. Phosphorus is naturally found in several foods and also available in the form of dietary supplements. This mineral makes up a large part of human bones and teeth. Calcium is also essential to bones and teeth; however, calcium requires phosphorus to make your bones and teeth healthy and strong. (1)
What does phosphorus do? In addition to supporting the strength of your bones and teeth, phosphorus helps your muscles and nerves perform their intended functions. It acts as a buffer in your body to balance your blood pH levels, and it is an essential mineral that helps you turn macros (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) into energy. In the form of phospholipids, it is also a component of your cell membranes. In addition, phosphorus helps in making DNA and RNA, regulating gene transcription, and in the activation of several enzymes. (2)
Phosphorus deficiency is rare and occurs when your body has low levels of phosphorus. Disordered eating and sustaining a poor diet over time can contribute to deficiency. Several medical conditions, including diabetes, alcoholism, and inherited disorders can also make you phosphorus-deficient. In case of severe deficiency, dietary supplements are recommended under the guidance of a medical physician. (1)
How Does Phosphorus Function in Your Child's Body?
No one denies the importance of minerals for a child’s growth and development, and phosphorus is an essential mineral. Phosphorus often teams up with other minerals to support and strengthen the body. Several studies have revealed that phosphorus plays a significant structural role in cell membranes and nucleic acids.
Phosphorus works in combination with calcium to support bone health in children. It’s important to note that phosphorus absorbs less when in the presence of high calcium in children. These two minerals are interrelated with each other because parathyroid hormones regulate their metabolism. Together, phosphorus and calcium also make up hydroxyapatite, which is the main structural component of your child’s tooth enamel and bones. Another vital mineral that is needed for proper absorption of phosphorus in the human body is vitamin D. (7)
How is phosphorus absorbed in your child’s body? Phosphorus is absorbed through passive transport in your child’s intestine, while some phosphorus absorbs through active transport. In some foods, including unleavened bread and seeds, phosphorus is present in the form of phytic acid (a form for storage of phosphorus). The human intestine lacks phytase enzyme, which is why a large portion of phosphorus in the form of phytic acid does not get absorbed. Kidneys, the small intestine, and bones are responsible for regulating the phosphorus levels in your child’s body. Excessive phosphorus is removed from the body in the form of urine. (1)
Why Do Children Need Phosphorus?
Phosphorus is essential for your child’s healthy growth and development. It plays a promising role in maintaining the roles of different body organs, like the heart, kidneys, brain, and blood. Phosphorus provides several health benefits to children. Some benefits include: (11)
- Strengthens teeth and bones
- Promotes digestion
- Reduces weakness
- Supports cognitive development
- Stimulates protein metabolism
- Promotes the uptake of other nutrients
Strengthens teeth and bones: Phosphorus is a significant part of your child’s growth. It works with calcium to make their bones strong. It also promotes the health of tooth enamel and gums in children. Several studies have revealed that phosphorus reduces the risk of several bone problems, like loss of mineral density and bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. Phosphorus has even been used to prevent and treat bone problems, such as bone loss and osteoporosis in the human body. Thus, this mineral lays the foundation for a strong skeletal system in children. (5)
Promotes digestion: Phosphorus is crucial for maintaining healthy digestion in your child’s body by regulating the absorption of niacin and riboflavin in the human body. Research has revealed that niacin and riboflavin, two water-soluble B vitamins, are essential for regulating energy metabolism and emotional responses in kids. (7)
Reduces weakness: This mineral has the ability to reduce minor health issues, such as fatigue, weakness, numbness, and muscle cramps. One study has demonstrated that maintaining an adequate level of this mineral in the body can support fitness in children. (1)
Supports cognitive development: Phosphorus is an essential mineral found in brain cells. Health experts claim that appropriate phosphorus levels ensure cognitive growth and development in children. Research has revealed that low phosphorus levels in the brain are strongly associated with the early onset of several neurological problems, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. (2)
Stimulates protein metabolism: Phosphorus is an integral part of protein synthesis that helps in the process of reproduction. Several studies have shown that phosphorus can enhance the utilization of protein in your child’s body, which facilitates proper cell growth and their repair when required. Similarly, phosphorus promotes the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates to generate energy in the body. (5)
Detoxification: Phosphorus is mandatory to maintain kidney health in the human body. It performs this task by ensuring the proper release of waste from the kidneys through excretion and urination. This mineral supports the urination process to balance uric acid, water, and salts in the body. It also promotes the healthy balance of all minerals and fluids and detoxifies the body. (7)
Promotes the uptake of other nutrients: Research has revealed that phosphorus works as a co-factor for several reactions in your kid’s body and helps in the proper utilization of nutrients. (5)
What Is Phosphorus Deficiency?
Phosphorus deficiency is rare in children. Even when your children do not get enough phosphorus through diet, their body can compensate by reabsorbing phosphorus that is present in the bloodstream. Some reasons a person might have phosphorus deficiency include low food intake and inherited disorders.
Low food intake: A poor diet due to disordered eating or other reasons can result in hypophosphatemia (low phosphorus levels in the blood). If your child is also deficient in other nutrients, such as vitamin D, then they might have trouble absorbing phosphorus because of how nutrients in the body work together. (4)
Inherited disorders: Certain genetic disorders also interfere with the body's ability to properly store phosphorus. These disorders cause the body to excrete too much phosphorus from the body in the form of urine. (9)
The common signs and symptoms of phosphorus deficiency in children include:
- Slow growth and development
- Altered brain functions
- Loss of appetite
Slow growth and development: A lack of phosphate in children can negatively affect their growth and development. Research has revealed that children with inadequate phosphate levels are shorter than children of the same age. They can also develop several bone abnormalities that can affect movement of the body and lead to bone pain. (10)
Altered brain functions: Phosphorus is a fundamental part of specialized brain cells. Therefore, children with low phosphate levels can face altered brain functions. Studies have revealed that deficiency of phosphate in children commonly impairs the neurologic functioning in children and can lead to confusion, irritability, coma, and seizures. (8)
Loss of appetite: Deficiency of essential micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals, can affect your child’s appetite. Research has demonstrated that children with inadequate intake of minerals like phosphorus can suffer from appetite loss, numbness, and fatigue. (4)
Weakness: Does your child often feel weakness and fatigue? If so, then they might be deficient in essential minerals, like phosphorus. Your child needs phosphorus to maintain bone health, and deficiency of this mineral can increase the risk of fractures and muscle damage.
Other complications associated with low phosphorus levels include breathing failure, destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia), rhabdomyolysis (damage to muscle tissues), and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). (6)
How Much Phosphorus Does Your Kid Need Each Day?
Dosing recommendations for vitamin D are given in the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB). DRI is the optimal amount of nutrients that a person needs per day. (1)
It is important to provide an adequate amount of phosphorus to your children to meet their daily requirements. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this mineral is provided in milligrams (mg).
For children, the recommended daily doses for phosphorus are provided below: (1)
|Age||Recommended daily amount in milligrams (mg)|
|0-6 months||100 mg|
|7-12 months||275 mg|
|1-3 years||460 mg|
|4-8 years||500 mg|
|9-13 years||1250 mg|
|14-18 years||1250 mg|
|19+ years||700 mg|
Should You Give Phosphorus Supplements To Your Kids?
Supplements of phosphorus are given in case of severe deficiency in children, which is rare in the United States. Supplements of this mineral are available in liquid and tablet forms. It is recommended that you consult your child’s physician before administering any supplement or medicine to your kid. This is particularly important for phosphorus because research has revealed that phosphate supplements can interfere with how the human body metabolizes other medicines. Due to this, it has been suggested that phosphate supplements should be taken two hours before or after antacids and iron, calcium, and magnesium supplements. (3)
Foods That Are Rich In Phosphorus
Major dietary sources of phosphorus include lean meat, eggs, beans, poultry, lentils, peas, soy products, seeds, and nuts. Fish, seafood, and other meats are also rich in phosphorus.
Below are some foods that contain a good amount of phosphorus. (1)
|Food Name||Serving Size||Milligrams (mg) per serving|
|Plain yogurt||6 oz||245 mg|
|Cooked salmon||3 oz||214 mg|
|Mozzarella cheese||1.5 oz||197 mg|
|Boiled lentils||1/2 cup||178 mg|
|Baked potato||1 medium||123 mg|
|Canned kidney beans||1/2 cup||120 mg|
|Cooked brown rice||1/2 cup||102 mg|
|Cooked oatmeal||1/2 cup||95 mg|
|Corn tortilla||1 medium||82 mg|
|Wheat bread||1 slice||65 mg|
|Sesame seeds||1 tbsp||57 mg|
|Boiled asparagus||1/2 cup||49 mg|
|Chopped tomatoes||1/2 cup||22 mg|
|Boiled cauliflower||1/2 cup||20 mg|
Risks and side effects of taking phosphorus
Risks and side effects of this mineral are uncommon because your kidneys typically remove excess phosphate from the body in the form of urine. However, some medical conditions can interfere with the process of removing extra phosphorus from the body, leading to hyperphosphatemia (abnormally high levels of phosphate in the blood). Research has shown that hyperphosphatemia is also characterized by low calcium levels in the serum which leads to muscle spasms, cramps, tingling, and numbness. Other signs and symptoms of this condition include joint pain, rashes, itching, and bone loss. On the other hand, one study has found that people with high phosphorus levels can experience shortness of breath, sleep issues, anorexia (eating disorder), vomiting, and nausea. It is important to monitor your kid’s phosphorus intake to prevent any of these mentioned side effects. (8)(10)
Phosphorus is an integral component of your child’s bones and teeth. It provides several health benefits, such as promoting overall growth and development, improving digestion, reducing weakness, supporting cognitive development, stimulating protein metabolism, detoxifying the body, and promoting the uptake of other nutrients. Inadequate dietary intake and certain medical conditions can lead to phosphate deficiency or cases of excess phosphorus in your child. A lack of this mineral can result in delayed growth and development, altered brain functions, loss of appetite, and weakness. Hyper- and hypophosphatemia are conditions that can both cause serious health complications in children, and working with your child’s nutrition expert or physician can help prevent any related risks or side effects. Supplements may be given in the case of severe deficiency and with your physician’s approval.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.