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Phosphorus Deficiency

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What is a Phosphorus Deficiency?

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Phosphorus deficiency in humans occurs when phosphorus is either deficient or improperly used. It is a mineral that is essential for the normal metabolism of a variety of compounds, as well as an acid that should be neutralised by the base-forming ions potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium in solution. Around 70% of the remaining phosphorus is combined with calcium in tooth and bone structure, while the remaining 30% is combined with nitrogen to metabolise carbohydrates and fats.

Phosphorus Deficiency in Humans

Phosphorus is given as the principal element in the structure of the cytoplasm and nucleus of all tissue cells. Also, it is a universally distributed component of nerve, skeletal, and muscle tissues. A reduced concentration of phosphate in the blood serum is given as a disorder called hypophosphatemia.

Phosphorus Deficiency Treatment Options

Many people do not require to supplement their phosphorus. Generally, foods give the body enough of this mineral. That said, if we suspect we have a deficiency (lack of phosphorus), it is recommended to contact a doctor. We may have an underlying condition, which affects our ability to store phosphorus. The conditioning treatment and taking a healthy diet may help to retain normal levels.

The recommended daily intake values are tabulated as follows:


Amount Per Day

0 to 12 months 

275 mg

1 to 3 years

460 mg

4 years and older 

1,250 mg

Pregnant or breastfeeding women 

1,250 mg

Also, a few people require supplementation to get their levels back to normal. Only supplements should be taken under medical supervision, as too much phosphorus can be harmful to one's health. The intake will be determined by the doctor.

Complications of a Long-Term Deficiency

Without any phosphorus deficiency treatment, low phosphorus levels can lead to complications, specifically if there is a calcium imbalance too. If the deficiency is more enough, it may become life-threatening. If we experience signs of deficiency, it is recommended to seek medical help.


This particular disease is more common in children. It is also related to a vitamin-D deficiency that inhibits the ability of the body to absorb both phosphorus and calcium. Symptoms include spinal pain, delayed growth, skeletal deformities, and muscle weakness.

Foods Rich in Phosphorus

If we are looking to boost the levels with zero supplements, we can focus on foods rich in phosphorus. However, not all phosphorus-rich foods are given as a part of a healthy diet. For example, most the processed foods do contain higher amounts of this mineral. Also, we can consult a dietician for the proper phosphorus diet.


  • beer

  • cocoa or chocolate drinks

  • dark colas

  • canned iced teas

  • milk


  • cheese

  • liquid non-dairy creamers

  • custard and pudding

  • ice cream

  • yoghurt

  • cream soups


  • oysters

  • sardines

  • fish roe

  • eggs

Other Foods and Prepared Foods

  • chocolate candies

  • oat bran muffins

  • pizza

  • whole grains

  • dried fruits

  • garlic cloves

Phosphorus Deficiency in Plants

Let us look at the phosphorus deficiency in plants.

Phosphorus deficiency disease is defined as a plant disorder associated with an insufficient phosphorus supply.

Phosphorus Deficiency Symptoms

In plants, phosphorus (P) can be considered second to nitrogen as a primary and important nutrient to ensure health and function. Phosphorus can be used by plants in many processes such as genetic transfer, photophosphorylation, the transportation of nutrients, and the phospholipid cell membranes. These functions are imperative for function within a plant cell in photophosphorylation.

For example, the creation of the stored energy in plants is the result of a chemical reaction with phosphorus. Phosphorus is needed for genetic reproduction as a key molecular component. Genetic processes such as plant growth and cell division are hampered when phosphorus levels are insufficient. Thus, phosphorus-deficient plants can mature at a slower rate compared to plants with adequate phosphorus amounts.


Detecting phosphorus deficiency may take multiple forms. A preliminary detection method is given as a visual inspection of plants. Darker green leaves and red or purplish pigment may indicate a phosphorus deficiency. However, since other plants' environmental factors can trigger the same discoloration symptoms, this approach can be an ambiguous diagnosis. Either in commercial or well-monitored settings for plants, phosphorus deficiency can be diagnosed by scientific testing.

In addition, discolouration in plant leaves only takes place under fairly severe phosphorus deficiency disease. Thus, it is beneficial to farmers and planters to check phosphorus levels scientifically before discolouration takes place. The most significant method of checking phosphorus levels is done by soil testing. The primary soil testing methods are Bray 1-P, Olsen, and Mehlich 3 methods. All these methods are viable, but every method has tendencies to be more accurate in the known geographical areas.

Phosphorus Deficiency Treatment

Increasing the available phosphorus levels in the soil is typically used to correct and avoid phosphorus deficiency disease. Planters introduce much phosphorus into the soil with rock phosphate, manure, bone meal, and phosphate-fertilizers. The introduction of these particular compounds into the soil, however, doesn’t ensure the alleviation of phosphorus deficiency.

There should be phosphorus in the soil, but the phosphorus should also be absorbed by the plant. The phosphorus uptake is limited by the chemical form, where the phosphorus is available in the soil. A large percentage of phosphorus in the soil is available in chemical compounds, which plants are incapable of absorbing. Phosphorus should be present in the soil in specific chemical arrangements to be used as nutrients in the plant.

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FAQs on Phosphorus Deficiency

1. Give Some Phosphorus Detection Methods?

Answer: Some phosphorus detection methods, such as inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (ICP) and spectral radiance, are implemented with the goal of improving the reading accuracy. As per the World Congress of Soil Scientists, the advantages of these specific light-based measurement methods are their evaluation quickness, simultaneous measurements of the nutrients of plant, and their nature of non-destructive testing. Although all these methods contain experimental-based evidence, unanimous method’s approval has not yet been achieved.

2. How to Control Phosphorus Deficiency in Plants?

Answer: Phosphorus deficiency (lack of phosphorus) may be controlled by applying phosphorus sources such as rock phosphate, manure, bone meal, phosphate-fertilizers.

3. What is Osteomalacia?

Answer: Osteomalacia condition can be seen in both adults and children. It is the softening of the bones related to vitamin D deficiency. Also, a vitamin-D deficiency can lead to absorption issues with calcium and phosphorus. We may have no symptoms in the early stages, but as it progresses, we may experience a dull aching pain, specifically in the pelvis, lower back, legs, hips, or ribs.

4. Give the Cause of Phosphorus Deficiency in Humans?

Answer: Deficiency of phosphorus (lack of phosphorus) causes some bone diseases like rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. An improper balance of calcium and phosphorus may also cause osteoporosis.

Dietary sources of phosphorus are egg yolk, milk products, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.

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