Oct 29 2009
Calcium is the most abundant element in the human body. 95% of your body’s calcium can be found in your bones and teeth. The second most abundant element in the human body is phosphorus. A large percentage of your body’s phosphorus is combined with the calcium in your skeletal structure. A lesser amount of phosphorus lies in the soft tissues and fluids of your body.
Both calcium and phosphorus are required for the proper formation of bones. The body cannot utilize calcium whatsoever unless active Vitamin D is present. Because non-functioning kidneys cannot activate Vitamin D, calcium from food eaten by someone with non-functioning kidneys cannot be absorbed adequately. Subsequently, your body’s blood calcium level can drop dramatically.
Phosphorus is known to build up in the bodies of patients with non-functioning kidneys which can result in a decrease in the level of blood calcium present. When calcium levels drop, the parathyroid glands secrete the parathyroid hormone which causes calcium to be released from the bones and then sent back into the bloodstream. This release of calcium from your bones may cause them to become weak or brittle, and if this process continues for a prolonged period of time, bones may break.
A doctor monitors this delicate relationship between phosphorus and calcium and may prescribe a calcium supplement. Foods high in phosphorus should be avoided altogether. Additionally, phosphate binders (like calcium salts) may be prescribed in order to prevent the phosphorus in your food from being absorbed into your body.
Why Do I Need to Restrict My Phosphorus Intake?
Due to the fact that high levels of phosphorus in your bloodstream can result in your bones being deprived of much needed calcium, it is of the utmost importance that phosphorus be restricted from your diet. Also, high levels of phosphorus may potentially combine with calcium and deposit in the soft tissues such as your blood vessels, skin, and lungs. If this occurs, you may experience joint pains, itching, and/or eye irritation.