Phosphorus is an important constituent in every body tissue. The total amount constitutes about one per cent of the body weight. The amount of phosphorus in the body is exceeded only by calcium. In bones the proportion of calcium to phosphorus is much higher than that of calcium. Most of this phosphorus is in organic combinations.
Phosphorus is one mineral that performs a number of important functions. It combines with calcium to form a relatively insoluble compound calcium phosphate, which gives strength and rigidity to bones and teeth. Phosphorus like calcium is needed not only for the growth of skeleton but also for its maintenance. The utilization of many nutrients that enter the body involves the formation and degradation of phosphorus containing compounds. The phosphorus-containing lipo-protein facilitates the transport of fats in the circulation. A series of phosphorus compound are formed in the utilization of carbohydrates in the body. It is vital to the fundamental process of metabolism in the body. Phosphorus is a constituent of the nucleoproteins the substances that control heredity.
Phosphorus is widely distributed in both plant and animal foods. Diet rich in protein and calcium provide sufficient phosphorus. Eggs, milk, meat, poultry, fish and flour are excellent sources of phosphorus. Whole grain cereals and flour provide phosphorus in good amount, Vegetables and fruits as a whole are in phosphorus content. A part of the phosphorus in cereals and nuts is present as phytin that is not available to the body. Phytin also interferes with the absorption of iron and calcium.
The Indian council of medical research has recommended a daily allowance of 1gm.of phosphorus.
A deficiency of this element is very rare in human being because diets having sufficient cereals are seldom inadequate in this nutrient. The deficiency is common animals. They develop stiff joints and bone become fragile and breaks easily.