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Phosphorus is a mineral that combines with other substances to form organic and inorganic phosphate compounds. The terms phosphorus and phosphate are often used interchangeably when talking about testing, but it is the amount of inorganic phosphate in the blood that is measured with a serum phosphorus/phosphate test.
Phosphates are vital for energy production, muscle and nerve function, and bone growth. They also play an important role as a buffer, helping to maintain the body's acid-base balance.
Phosphorus comes into the body through the diet. It is found in many foods and is readily absorbed by the intestines. About 70-80% of the body's phosphates combine with calcium to help form bones and teeth, another 10% are found in muscle, and about 1% is in nerve tissue. The rest is found within cells throughout the body, where they are mainly used to store energy.
Normally, only about 1% of total body phosphates are present in the blood. ??A wide variety of foods, such as beans, peas and nuts, cereals, dairy products, eggs, beef, chicken, and fish, contain significant amounts of phosphorus. The body maintains phosphorus/phosphate levels in the blood by regulating how much it absorbs from the intestines and how much it excretes via the kidneys. Phosphate levels are also affected by the interaction of parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcium, and vitamin D.
Phosphorus deficiencies (hypophosphatemia) may be seen with malnutrition, malabsorption, acid-base imbalances, hypercalcemia, and with disorders that affect kidney function. Phosphorus excesses (hyperphosphatemia) may be seen with increased intake of the mineral, hypocalcemia, and with kidney dysfunction.
Someone with a mild to moderate phosphorus deficiency often does not have any symptoms. With a severe phosphorus deficiency, symptoms may include muscle weakness and confusion. An extreme excess of phosphorus may cause symptoms that are similar to those seen with low calcium, including muscle cramps, confusion, and even seizures.
P; PO4; Phosphate; Inorganic Phosphate.
Gastrointestinal Tract; Kidney Disorders; Bone Disease; Acid- base imbalance
To evaluate the level of phosphorus in your blood and to aid in the diagnosis of conditions known to cause abnormally high or low levels of phosphorus. In follow up to an abnormal calcium level; when you have a kidney disorder or uncontrolled diabetes; when you are taking calcium or phosphate supplements.
Since mildly abnormal phosphorus levels usually cause no symptoms, phosphorus testing is typically performed in follow up to an abnormal calcium test and/or when symptoms of abnormal calcium such as fatigue, muscle weakness, cramping, or bone problems are present.
Phosphorus testing may also be ordered along with other tests when symptoms suggest kidney and gastrointestinal disorders.
When conditions causing abnormal phosphorus and/or calcium levels are found, testing for both may be ordered at regular intervals to monitor treatment effectiveness.
When someone has diabetes or signs of an acid-base imbalance, a health practitioner may sometimes monitor phosphorus levels.