Introducing Phosphorus

Essential for Optimal Bone Health

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Working together with calcium and magnesium, phosphorus is another important mineral related to bone health and is essential for the formation of healthy bones. In fact, about 85% of phosphorus in the body is combined with calcium in the bones and teeth. In all body cells, phosphorus is part of a major buffer system (phosphoric acid and its salts). Phosphorus is also a component of DNA and RNA, which are essential elements of all cells.

In addition, phosphorus helps release energy from food in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The ATP molecule uses three phosphate groups to do its work. Many enzymes and the B-vitamins become active only when a phosphate group is attached. Lipids found in the cell walls also use phosphorus. These phospholipids give cells their fluid structure, which is necessary for the transport of compounds into and out of cells.

The Primary Sources of Phosphorus

Phosphorus is found naturally in many foods from both animal and vegetable products. Foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk are excellent animal sources while sunflower seeds are a good vegan source.

Bioavailability of Phosphorus

Phosphorous is absorbed well from most foods, especially animal-source foods. In plant seeds containing phytic acid/phytate, only 50% of the phosphorus is available for humans. Individuals who consume large amounts of dairy products or cola beverages have higher intakes of phosphorus, which may interfere with calcium metabolism.

Risks Related to Inadequate Intake of Phosphorus

Because phosphorus is so widespread in food, dietary phosphorus deficiency is seen mostly in cases of malnutrition, anorexic individuals, or alcoholics. Symptoms of phosphorus deficiency are poor appetite, anxiety, and irritability. In children, phosphorus deficiency may manifest as decreased growth and poor bone and tooth development.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here

Incorporate phosphorus into your next meal by trying the delicious recipe below…

Beef Stroganoff and Herby Pasta*


400g beef rump steak, trimmed
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
300g small button mushroom
400g pappardelle pasta
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
300ml beef stock
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp tomato purée
3 tbsp crème fraîche
½ x 20g pack flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Freeze the beef for 45 mins before you begin, slice as thinly as you can, then season.

In a large, non-stick frying pan, melt half the butter with half the oil. Increase the heat, then quickly sear the beef in batches until browned on both sides. Remove the meat and set aside. Repeat with the mushrooms, then set aside with the beef. Boil the pasta.

Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and soften the shallots for a few mins. Stir in the flour for 1 min, then gradually stir in the stock. Bubble for 5 mins until thickened, then stir in the mustard, purée, crème fraîche and seasoning. Bubble for 1 min more, then return the beef and mushrooms to the pan.

Drain the pasta, toss with half the parsley, season, then serve with the creamy stroganoff, sprinkled with the remaining parsley.

*Recipe is adapted from BBC Good Food