Key minerals for bone health — phosphorus

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body, making up a full 25% of all the mineral material in the body. Nearly all the biochemical reactions taking place in the body involve phosphorus, including regulation of proteins and energy production through the process known as phosphorylation; hormone signaling, cell growth and repair; heart contraction; nerve and muscle activity; calcium, glucose, fat and starch metabolism; and pH buffering to maintain acid–alkaline balance in the body.

Also of special interest to us is the fact that phosphorus combines with calcium to form a mineral crystal that gives strength and structure to our bones and teeth. Of all the phosphorus in the body, 80% of it is found in the teeth and bones in the form of crystalline bone, hydroxyapatite.

But while phosphorus is essential for bone health, too much of it is not a good thing. It must work in delicate balance with calcium in our bones and blood. The average American diet contains much more phosphorus than calcium (see table). Large amounts are found in meat, soft drinks, and processed foods. Instead of the more ideal ratio of nearly one part calcium to one part phosphorus, many Americans consume twice as much, or more phosphorus than calcium. This high phosphorus-to-calcium ratio can be detrimental to our bones.

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