PHOSPHORUS, THE EXCITATORY OR FIERY MINERAL
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© Dcember 2013, The Center For Development, Inc.
Phosphorus is a fascinating mineral, and a very important one in nutritional balancing science. It is called a macromineral because our bodies contain a lot of it. Other macrominerals are calcium, magnesium sodium, potassium and sulfur.
Phosphorus may be called the excitatory or high-energy mineral because it is also so involved in the human fuel system. This is a complex system by which we convert food and nutrients into a form that the cells use to produce their energy. Phosphorus is very fiery. It the only non-radioactive element that is not stable when in an atomic or singular form.
Some readers may recall a high school science experiment in which the teacher gently lifted a piece of pure phosphorus out of a jar filled with water. In less than a minute, it bursts into flame spontaneously. This is how unstable and fiery phosphorus is. In part because of this, phosphorus is a very essential mineral in the human body. It is also one of the most anabolic of all the minerals. This means it is needed to build up new body tissue.
The soft tissue phosphorus level is also a most important reading on a hair tissue mineral analysis. Here it tells us about a person’s vitality, energy level, tissue regeneration, and when it is high, it may indicate a special form of mental development or a celebration pattern. Let us examine phosphorus in more detail.
SOURCES OF PHOSPHORUS
Phosphorus is found in all protein foods, along with nitrogen and often sulfur. These three elements are the hallmarks, as it were, of amino acids and proteins that play such a critical role in human and animal health. Plants such as vegetables are more built out of carbohydrates and sugars, while animal bodies are more built from proteins. This is very important to recall at all times, and one reason why low protein diets can be problematic.
The human being needs concentrated proteins every day, and those who follow very low protein diets are very foolish. Some people don’t want to bother with protein as it is more costly, and often must be prepared or cooked, compared to starches and sugars like breads, rice, pasta and fruits. This is always a mistake, in my experience of over 30 years.
Foods rich in high-quality phosphorus include meats, eggs, dairy products, but especially cheese and cows milk. Other sources that are not as high quality in most cases include nuts, seeds, and beans. These are the main sources of higher quality phosphorus.
Raw grains are high in phytates, which are harmful phosphorus compounds. Cooking, fermenting, and special methods of food preparation, such as adding yeast to bread dough and adding lime to corn, were developed to reduce the high phytate content of grain foods. This is an important reason NOT TO EAT RAW GRAINS EVER. These include granola and even just soaked grains, which are popular today. Cooking or fermenting the grains gets rid of the phytates. However, cooking is best, in our experience because ferments have a number of problems that are explained in a separate article called Fermented Foods. Also read Raw Foods for more on why they do not work well today, except for raw dairy products which are excellent foods.
Soda pop often contains phosphoric acid. This is used to cut the sweetness of the drink and to add a tangy flavor. It is also a stimulant, along with the sugar and caffeine in many soft drinks, and this is why these drinks are popular among exhausted people. However, phosphoric acid is another harmful type of phosphorus compound that is very acidic and can erode the teeth, damage the stomach and intestines, helps destroy the bones, and should always be avoided. Phosphoric acid in Coca Cola, Pepsi and other soft drinks is the reason why these abominations can be used to clean the terminals on your car battery, but should never be drunk if you care for your body at all. Even dogs and cats know to avoid these products that should never be allowed to be sold.
FUNCTIONS OF PHOSPHORUS
1. Bone health. About 85% of your body’s phosphorus is in the bone structure, where it interacts with calcium to form the hard part of the bones. This, of course, is a critical body function. The right kind of phosphorus is needed, and the wrong kinds found in raw grains and soda pop, mainly, will tend to destroy the bones faster or cause them to grow in a deformed way.
2. Energy production. This is probably its most important role. ATP or adenosine triphosphate is the high-energy molecule that is used as the “refined fuel” for every purpose in the body. It is somewhat like refined gasoline in today’s society.
3. Growth and development. Phosphates are extremely important for growth of the body. For example, mother’s milk is rather low in phosphorus compared to cows milk. Cows, of course, grow much faster and larger than human beings. This is one of the problems with drinking cows milk. Milk from smaller animals such as goats and sheep tends to be more like human milk in their phosphorus content. Most of the phosphorus from dairy products ends up in the bones to create a strong and healthy body. Pasteurizing the milk damages some of the calcium and phosphorus compounds it contains and causes severe digestive problems for many people, especially those of the Black race and Asians. They may not even tolerate raw cow’s milk very well due to its high lactose content, but this is far better than pasteurized milk. Homogenizing the milk also may damage some phosphorus compounds and should never be done. Raw, unpasteurized, and unhomogenized milk is extremely safe when produced in a healthy way, which is easy to do.
4. The nervous system. The human nervous system is extremely dependent on phosphorus compounds, especially those found in meats and eggs. For example, phospholipids are needed to form the myelin sheath on the nerves. This is like the insulation on wires. If it is not strong, the brain literally short circuits, like two bare wires touching each other. This can cause seizures, multiple sclerosis and dozens of other problems.
Also, the brain uses so much energy (at least one-third of all your energy) that high-energy phosphorus compounds are critical for thinking and higher brain development of a human being. This is one of the reasons vegetarians are prone to fatigue, anxiety and depression much more than meat eaters. Meat is far higher in bioavailable phosphorus compounds than vegetarian proteins like nuts, seeds and beans.
5. Cell membranes. Phospholipids are also needed to maintain the integrity of our cell membranes. This may not seem important, but it is a critical body function. The cell membranes keep the right nutrients inside the cells and keep the bad ones out of the cells. Omega-3 fatty acids, along with others, are incorporated into phosphorus compounds to form cell membrane structures needed for the transfer of nutrients into the cells and to move waste products out of the cells.
6. All protein synthesis. Phosphorus is involved in DNA and RNA synthesis. This, in turn, is needed to make all body proteins, enzymes, hormones and trillions of other chemicals in our bodies. We must have enough phosphorus or the process stalls and health declines.
7. Buffering the pH of the blood. Phosphorus compounds perform many interesting functions, among which is buffering acids in the body to maintain a steady pH or acid-base balance. While phosphorus is considered an acid-forming mineral, this is only partially true. Phosphorus in certain forms has a neutralizing effect upon lactic acid and other acids that can build up in the body. So phosphorus can be both acid-forming and alkaline-forming in our bodies depending on what it is used for.
8. Maintaining the osmotic balance of the body fluids. This is another very interesting use of phosphorus in our bodies. All the fluids in our bodies such as the lymph, blood and the fluid inside of all of our cells must be maintained in a balance. Otherwise pressures would build up and damage our cell walls, our blood vessels and other pipes or conduits through which the fluids flow. Some phosphorus compounds help to keep all the fluids in balance by conducting small amounts of it back and forth between various body compartments like the cells, the blood stream and the lymph fluid.
PHOSPHORUS ASSESSMENT USING HAIR MINERAL ANALYSIS
The hair phosphorus level is a critical indicator on a properly performed hair mineral test. Dr. Paul Eck found that the hair phosphorus level mainly has to do with protein synthesis. Without sufficient protein synthesis, healing is definitely impaired. Thus, correcting the phosphorus level on a hair analysis is of primary importance.
An ideal hair phosphorus level is about 16 mg% or about 160 parts per million. The hair must not be washed at the laboratory for the most accurate readings.
Pubic hair versus head and body hair. Note that pubic hair will give higher phosphorus readings and for this reason is not as reliable as head or body hair. Hair testing laboratories allow practitioners to submit pubic hair samples, but I do not allow clients to do this unless there are no alternatives. Fingernails or toenails are more reliable indicators of the soft tissue phosphorus level. Some laboratories may allow doctors to send in nails if hair is not available, but head hair is best.
It is important to understand that any soft tissue of the body could be used to test for minerals. Hair and nails are used simply because sampling them is painless, non-invasive and does not require surgical techniques to cut out pieces of the body.
The meaning of low hair phosphorus. When the level is less than 15 mg%, a person is not synthesizing protein fast enough. This reflects a more catabolic state. This means one is tearing the body down faster than it is being built up. This is an extremely useful indicator for assessing a person’s health status and perhaps understanding why a person is not improving very fast. Reasons for this are discussed below.
An important vitality indicator. I also use phosphorus as a vitality indicator, although Dr. Eck did not mention this too often. The ideal is about 15 to 16 mg%. When the level is lower, it indicates impaired vitality and a more yin condition of the body.
When the hair phosphorus is less than 12 mg%, vitality is definitely somewhat lower. A level less than 10 mg% is even more extreme, and fortunately not too common. We see the low levels especially in those who do not eat enough protein, who have impaired digestion, yeast infections, vegetarians, extreme stress, and in a few other cases.
Impaired digestion and low phosphorus. Many people do not digest protein very well. The reasons can be low digestive enzymes, poor food combinations, improper eating habits such as eating on the run, yeast infections, or other intestinal infections or improper gut flora. To correct this, everyone with a low phosphorus level needs to take a powerful digestive aid such as ox bile and pancreatin. We use one called GB-3. Another is called Bilex.
Copper toxicity and low phosphorus. Often, a low phosphorus on a hair test indicates hidden or overt copper toxicity. Copper imbalance is associated with yeast overgrowth in the intestines, low digestive enzyme production due to low zinc, improper gut flora and intestinal infections, and even protein destruction due to the effect of copper on other nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, manganese and others.
Elevated hair phosphorus and mental development. A phosphorus level between 17 to about 25 mg% usually indicates a milder form of protein breakdown or catabolism that is associated with mental or spiritual development or pre-development.
This is not a problem, at all. Instead, it signals an unusual change in the body, in my experience. My understanding at this time is that it indicates a breakdown of certain support cells in the brain of adults. The supporting cells, called the glial cells, are replaced by neurons, which are the “thinking cells” of the brain.
This is an exciting change because the end result is a greater brain capacity and thus much better mental functioning. This is a part of the process that is called on this website Mental or Spiritual Development. Thus, a slightly elevated phosphorus is indeed a very positive indicator on a properly performed hair mineral analysis.
Very high phosphorus readings (P > 25 mg%). At times, one will see a hair phosphorus level of 27, 30 or even 40 mg%. If you see this, first rule out the use of pubic hair. Assuming the cause is not the use of pubic hair, the meaning is usually that the body is breaking down toxic tissue very rapidly. This is considered another positive pattern on a properly performed hair mineral analysis. It is not necessarily a spiritual development pattern.
“Moving fast” pattern. A very high phosphorus is often found along with an “amigo dump” (elimination of several of the so-called amigos), and a double or triple “flip” pattern (flips are when a key ratio, or the oxidation rate, or another pattern flips or changes rapidly to become much more positive). This combination of patterns on a hair analysis retest is called the Moving Fast pattern and is a very positive pattern.
CAUSES FOR A LOW HAIR PHOSPHORUS (IMPAIRED PROTEIN SYNTHESIS) INCLUDE:
1. Not enough dietary protein, or perhaps not enough high quality protein such a meat and eggs. For example, living on soy products such as tofu, nuts, seeds or beans can cause this reading as these are all lower quality proteins. Other examples are vegan diets, and vegetarian diets.
2. Incorrect eating habits. These include eating in the car, eating too fast, eating in noisy restaurants, eating when not at peace. Others are eating standing up, eating when upset, not chewing your food thoroughly or eating at your desk while you are working.
3. Possibly eating a less well utilized, incomplete, poorly absorbed, overcooked or spoiled protein food. For example, overcooked meat and all hard-cooked and hard-boiled eggs are harder to digest. Protein powders, no matter how nutritious, should ideally be eaten alone. When they are mixed with fruit, vegetables, water, juice and some vitamins in a blender they are often very bad food combinations that are poorly utilized by the body.
4. Problems in the digestive tract or liver that interfere with the absorption or utilization of amino acids. A common one is a chronic candida albicans infection, for example. Others might be leaky gut syndrome, an inflamed intestinal tract or an irritated bowel due to a parasitic or other infection. These problems are extremely common and plague most people to some degree.
5. Deficiencies of some nutrient or an excess of toxins in the mitochondria that impairs energy production and DNA and RNA synthesis. This is a final step in protein synthesis and a very important one. Many people suffer from what is today called mitochondrial defects for these reasons. Minerals such as zinc and magnesium, among others, are needed in the correct proportions and the correct forms for protein synthesis and energy production.
6. The presence of toxic metals or high levels of biounavailable copper or other minerals often impair protein synthesis. For example, an excess of biounavailable copper, or the presence of the amigos or irritant forms of minerals can inflict oxidant and other types of damage on proteins in the body.
7. Mitochondrial dysfunction. Low phosphorus may indicate mitochondrial dysfunction, especially if the level is less than about 13 mg%.
8. Low hair phosphorus as an indicator for a hidden zinc deficiency or copper imbalance. A low hair phosphorus level frequently indicates a need for zinc, or excess copper in the body, regardless of the hair zinc or copper levels. This was another of Dr. Eck’s brilliant insights about the body and about hair mineral analysis. Zinc is required for several important enzymes involved in protein synthesis such as RNA transferase. Without adequate available zinc, protein synthesis is severely impaired.
The hair calcium/phosphorus ratio. Some doctors use this ratio to assess the oxidation rate. Dr. Eck rejected this idea completely. It is not accurate enough, and it is too unreliable because it can be influenced by many factors.
It is true that calcium represents stability and sluggishness when it is too high. Meanwhile, the hair phosphorus represents adequate protein synthesis. However, this is not the same as the oxidation rate, which depends upon adrenal and thyroid activity. Dr. Melvin Page, DDS used the Ca/P ratio in the blood serum to assess the sympathetic and parasympathetic balance, but this is entirely different from the hair mineral biopsy concept.
Also, the hair Ca/P ratio can be impacted by several other patterns that will skew the ratio severely. These are:
1. Three highs/four highs pattern. In this case, a person could be in fast oxidation, but the hair Ca/P ratio will indicate slow oxidation. This is common and very confusing if one uses the hair Ca/P to assess the oxidation rate.
2. Four lows pattern. In this case, a person can be in slow oxidation, but the hair Ca/P ratio will often indicate fast oxidation. This is also terribly confusing and not true.
3. Pubic hair samples. If pubic hair is used for testing, which I do not recommend, the phosphorus level is often elevated in these samples. This will also skew the hair Ca/P ratio.
For all these reasons, not only do I avoid using the hair Ca/P ratio for assessing the oxidation rate, but I do not use it at all. Neither did Dr. Eck.
Zinc spots and hair loss. As stated above, zinc is required for protein synthesis. If zinc becomes deficient, the body prioritizes its zinc reserves and can reduce the synthesis less essential proteins such as the skin, hair and nails. This is one cause for baldness, skin diseases and “zinc spots”, small whitish spots on the fingernails and toenails. One can even calculate when stress or another condition reduced the available zinc by the location of the spots relative to the distal end of the fingernails. The fingernails usually grow about one-fourth to one-third of an inch per month. The closer a white spot is to the nail bed, the more recent was the low zinc present.
Impaired protein synthesis due to low zinc or high copper is also why some women develop stretch marks, baldness at times, spider veins, varicose veins, digestive problems and many, many other telltale signs of low zinc. These indicate stress and copper imbalance, at the very least, and may indicate other problems with protein synthesis.
PHOSPHORUS READINGS DURING NUTRITIONAL BALANCING PROGRAMS
Very high hair phosphorus on a retest - a celebration pattern. A sudden increase in hair phosphorus on a retest, but only when a person has followed a nutritional balancing program, is often very positive, even if the level rises to 25 or 30 mg%. It appears to reflect a breaking down and release of old, diseased tissue. The level usually returns to a more normal level on the next retest.
In this regard, tissue breakdown or catabolism is not all bad when it is controlled and is a part of rebuilding or actually remodeling of the body in a more healthful way. This is an important principle of nutritional balancing science that sometimes tissue must break down to be replaced by healthier tissues. Often, a high phosphorus of this type can represent updating the minerals in the body. This is a rather unusual process, as is mental development, that usually never occurs except, in my experience, when one follows a complete nutritional balancing program for several years.
It involves replacing what may be called “older” minerals with “newer” ones that work better. The older ones include toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic and aluminum. The newer ones include zinc, copper, selenium and silicon. Humanity is moving in the direction of the newer minerals, and away from the older ones which are associated with violence, horror and certain diseases.
Just taking these newer minerals will not accomplish the same thing as following a carefully designed program based on a tissue mineral test and guided by the principles of Dr. Eck as far as how to interpret the hair test and design the program.
Phosphorus may decrease on a retest if the body eliminates lead, mercury or perhaps some other toxic metal. In these cases, the toxic metals, especially lead, had been displacing the phosphorus level upwards.
Minerals and other substances that are essential for the action of phosphorus include most of the trace minerals and hundreds of other nutrients that are involved in energy production, cell membrane formation, protein synthesis, the nervous system and fluid balance. Calcium is absorbed with phosphorus and is a synergist in bone formation. Magnesium is a synergist in energy production and protein synthesis. Vitamin D assists phosphorus absorption, along with calcium absorption and utilization. B-complex vitamins require phosphorus for their activity, in many cases.
These substances block the action of phosphorus and include cortisone therapies, and steroid-containing drugs and medicines such as nasal sprays, pain remedies, cortisone shots and other steroid-containing products. In part, the devastating effects of these common remedies may be their detrimental effect on phosphorus metabolism in the body. This can help explain common side effects of these drugs such as bone loss, cataract formation, thinning of the skin, exhaustion, adrenal damage and many others.
Sodium and potassium are both synergistic and antagonistic with phosphorus. They are needed to absorb phosphates in the intestines. However, they are also powerful solvents that can lower the calcium and phosphorus in the blood and the tissues in some cases. For example, children have more sodium and potassium in the hair and other tissues than adults. For this reason, children often have lower levels of phosphates in their blood and tissues than adults. However, their hair phosphorus level should be about the same as adults at about 15-17 mg%.
Much more can be written about phosphorus. For more technical information about phosphorus, see the Mineral Reference Guide in the back of the text, Nutritional Balancing And Hair Mineral Analysis.