An adequate phosphorus intake adapted to the physiological stage and size of the animal and perfectly balanced with the calcium intake, promotes harmonious growth and enhances body functions. In ageing animals, phosphorus intake should be reduced as it might aggravate chronic renal failure.
Etymologically speaking, the word phosphorus means “light-bearing.” It was discovered in 1669 by a German alchemist, who released phosphorus in the form of a vapour that glows in the dark by evaporating urine and burning off the residue in a retort.
Phosphorus has multiple roles, each of which is as important as the other. 86% of the body’s phosphorus is retained in the bones, where together with calcium, it is responsible for making the skeleton solid. It is a constituent of the cell membranes and a mineral that the body needs to dispense energy (through adenosine triphosphate, a.k.a. ATP). Phosphorus is also incorporated into the major molecules, DNA and RNA, which carry the cell’s genetic programming.
Phosphorus is found in mammalian bones in the form of mineral salts, as well as in minerals such as phosphates. Meat is also very rich in phosphorus. When phosphorus has to be limited in the diet, some of the animal proteins can be replaced by vegetable proteins (wheat or maize gluten).