J J B Anderson University of North Carolina

Chapel Hill, NC, USA

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The consumption of a diet sufficient in phosphorus, in the form of phosphate salts or organophosphate molecules, is critical for the support of human metabolic functions. Too much phosphorus, in relation to too little dietary calcium, may contribute to bone loss, and too little phosphorus along with too little dietary calcium may not adequately maintain bone mass, especially in the elderly. Therefore, under normal dietary conditions, dietary phosphorus is used for numerous functions without any concern; it is only when too much or too little phosphorus is ingested that skeletal problems may arise. Certainly, elderly subjects need to consume sufficient amounts of phosphorus, like calcium, to maintain bone mass and density, but too much phosphorus may contribute to inappropriate elevations of parathyroid hormone (PTH) and bone loss. It is not clear where most elderly subjects fall along this continuum of intake patterns. This article discusses the mechanisms by which phosphate ions impact on calcium and also on bone tissue.

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