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Diet & Nutrition

Phosphorus Deficiency: Symptoms and Treatment

3 Mins read

Phosphorus deficiency is a rare health condition that could be due to a poor diet, or another underlying health condition. Phosphorus is a mineral that is found in your bones, teeth, and genetic components such as your DNA and RNA.

Phosphorus, in the form of phospholipids, is also part of the cell membrane structure and Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is the human body’s primary energy source. 

There are many other reasons why phosphorus is important. Phosphorus plays an essential role in filtering out waste in the kidneys, regulating enzyme activation, regulating gene transcription, and helping maintain a normal pH balance in intracellular storage of energy and extracellular fluid. Overall, phosphorus makes up just over 1% of your body’s overall body weight. Notably, approximately 85% of your body’s phosphorus content is found in your bones and teeth.

Calcium is typically given the most credit for ensuring good bone health. However, phosphorus, even in its minute quantity, plays just as important of a role here. A lack of phosphorus in the body could lead to a phosphorus deficiency. Though the health condition of phosphorus deficiency is not very common, it does exist, and can be a result of poor diet as well as other diseases. Sometimes, these genetic and rare diseases result in low phosphorus levels. A phosphorous deficiency must be treated as it can result in debilitating bone-related disorders, and can cause bone health issues. Learn more about this condition below:

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What Causes a Phosphorous Deficiency? 

Hypophosphatemia is the clinical term to describe low phosphate levels in the blood. Common causes of this condition are poor eating habits. This includes not getting the right nutrients in your diet, engaging in fad or yo-yo diets, or having an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Not getting the right minerals and nutrients from the right balance of food, or not eating enough food entirely, can cause a phosphorus deficiency.

On top of that, underlying health conditions such as diabetes, alcoholism, or inherited diseases can put people at higher risk of developing a phosphorous deficiency. 

What are some other causes of a phosphorous deficiency? The following are examples of rare genetic disorders that result in a phosphorous deficiency:

  • X-linked hypophosphatemia
  • Vitamin D–resistant rickets
  • Hereditary hypophosphatemic rickets with hypercalciuria
  • Autosomal dominant hypophosphatemic rickets
  • Mutations in the type 2a sodium-phosphate cotransporter 

Phosphorous Deficiency Symptoms

As phosphorus is primarily found in the bones and the teeth, the most common symptoms of a phosphorous deficiency are related to bone health

Some symptoms of phosphorous deficiency could include bone pain. You may have bone pain in different areas, such as the spine, neck, and limbs. It is also possible that your bones will become more fragile due to a phosphorus deficiency, which could result in osteoporosis. This means that your bones are more prone to bruising and fracturing. Joint stiffness and pain may also be felt as symptoms of a phosphorous deficiency. 

Other symptoms related to phosphorus deficiency include a loss of appetite, sudden episodes of anxiety, chronic fatigue, irregular breathing, irritability, numbness and weakness in the body, and sudden fluctuations in body weight without modifying your diet. 

For children who experience a phosphorous deficiency, issues may be found in growth patterns, bone development, and teeth formation. Apart from a delay in physical development, the development of other areas like mobility and mental faculties may also be stunted

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How Can a Phosphorous Deficiency be Treated?

Phosphorous deficiencies are commonly a result of not having enough of this mineral due to lack of consuming the right foods. However, other factors may be causing this deficiency, so it is best to speak to a doctor and get some lab testing done.

The root cause of the issue must be found with professional help, before you can treat the issue.

Sometimes, an at-home blood test or a DNA testing kit could reveal possible nutrient deficiencies. 

For example, CircleDNA reveals some information about nutrient deficiency risks in your diet and nutritions reports, which are one of hundreds of reports about your health from CircleDNA.  Often, a phosphorous deficiency can be remedied with your doctor’s guidance on taking mineral supplements or by eating more phosphorus-rich foods. Examples of phosphorus-rich foods include sunflower seeds, chicken, turkey, pork, clams, scallops, and brazil nuts. These are just some examples of foods you could eat more of to help combat a phosphorus deficiency, if it turns out that your diet is the problem.

Hannah Wabe
135 posts

About author
Hannah Victoria Wabe has an MA in Development Communication, which shows how just much she loves and believes in the power of words. She works part-time as a writer and educator but works full-time as a mother of three kids, ranging from 8 to 18. Though she’s not a big fan of math, she believes in counting blessings and imbibes an attitude of gratitude.
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