Phosphorus and Magnesium


Another major mineral in the body, next in importance to calcium is phosphorus. It is the second most abundant mineral in the body. It has both structural and functional roles. Structurally, most phosphorous is found in the bones (85%). It is a major component of most cell membranes. It is necessary for bones and teeth and plays an important role in metabolism of other nutrients like carbohydrates, fats etc.

What are the sources of Phosphorus?
Phosphorus is widely distributed in both plant and animal foods. Good sources of phosphorus include red meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, cereals, pulses, nuts and oilseeds. It is sometimes used as an additive (phosphate salts) to food products such as baked products, cheese, processed meats and soft drinks.

How much Phosphorus do you need?
ICMR recommends 600 mg of phosphorus per day for children from 1 to 9 years of age. 800 mg of phosphorus per day is recommended for children from 10-12 years of age and for adolescents from 13 years to 17 years of age.

For a normal adult (both males and females), 600 mg of phosphorus per day is recommended. Pregnant and Lactating mothers need 1200 mg of phosphorus per day.

The amount of phosphorus needed is easily obtained even from a poor vegetarian (cereal-based) diet and phosphorus deficiency is rarely seen.


The largest amount (50-65%) of magnesium in the body is found in the bones. Only around 1% occurs outside cells. Magnesium is important for the metabolism of other nutrients (Ca& vitamin D).It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. It activates several enzymes, especially those for energy production, keeps bones strong and supports a healthy immune system.

What are the sources of Magnesium?
Magnesium is found in many foods but in relatively small amounts. Good sources of magnesium are Green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli and avocado), legumes (beans and peas), whole grain products, nuts, seeds, fish (halibut, tuna) and fruit (bananas and dried apricots).Generally, green, leafy vegetables as well as grains and nuts have a higher Mg content than meat and dairy products.

How much magnesium do you need?
ICMR recommends 50 mg/d of magnesium for children from 1 to 3 years of age, 70 mg/d for children from 4 to 6 years of age and 100 mg/d from 7-9 years of age. For preschoolers and adolescents, RDA for magnesium is the following.

For a normal adult (both males and females), 320 mg of magnesium per day is recommended. Pregnant and lactating mothers need 310 mg of magnesium per day.
Diet based on cereals, pulses and vegetables can provide adequate magnesium to meet the requirements.