According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), phosphoric acid is generally regarded as safe (GRAS). However, excessive phosphorus intake can cause harm to your heart, kidneys, and bones.
Phosphoric acid or phosphate salt occurs naturally in foods such as beans, meat, chicken, eggs, and fish, and your body needs about 700 mg of phosphorus per day. However, it is more common to have too much of this mineral than not enough, since most people get enough in their diet.
Phosphoric acid is often used as an additive in processed foods and soda, meaning that consumption of these items can lead to too much phosphorus in the body.
What is phosphoric acid?
Phosphoric acid or orthophosphoric acid is a colorless, odorless crystalline liquid.
The mineral phosphorus, which occurs naturally in the body, is used to create phosphoric acid. Phosphorus first undergoes a chemical transformation to become phosphorus pentoxide. Then, it is treated again to form phosphoric acid. It supports the way the body consumes and stores energy and kidney function. After a strenuous workout, phosphorus also aids in muscle recovery.
Phosphoric acid imparts tartness to soft drinks and inhibits the growth of mold and germs, which can quickly proliferate in a sweet environment. Phosphoric acid is a major source of acidity in soda.
4 health risks of phosphoric acid
According to studies, consuming too much phosphorus increases your chances of developing osteoporosis and heart disease. Together, calcium and phosphorus help build and maintain strong teeth and bones. To be effective, however, the minerals need to be balanced.
Potential health risks of phosphoric acid include the following:
1. Decreased bone density
Phosphoric acid can lead to a decrease in bone density. One study on teenage girls reported a link between high phosphorus intake and a higher rate of bone fractures.
2. Kidney problems
Kidney stones, chronic kidney disease, and urine changes have been linked to the consumption of cola drinks high in phosphoric acid. Excessive amounts of phosphoric acid can be hard on the kidneys, especially for people who have underlying kidney issues. In a study that compared the dietary habits of 467 healthy people and 465 people, consumption of two or more regular or diet sodas, which are high in phosphoric acid, was linked to a doubled risk of chronic kidney disease.
3. Vitamin deficiencies
Calcium levels can drop if you consume too much phosphorus, and research has linked drinking daily cola consumption to hypocalcemia. Phosphorus overload can impede your body's ability to use essential nutrients properly, such as iron, magnesium, and zinc, and these vitamin deficiencies can cause a variety of other health issues.
4. Toxic exposure
Phosphoric acid is a chemical substance that is often found in detergents and disinfectants. When it comes into contact with the skin and eyes, it can cause irritation and burning. When inhaled, it can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs, which can cause coughing and wheezing.
How to limit your intake of phosphoric acid
Since soft drinks are often high in phosphoric acid, it is best to limit your intake or find alternative beverages.
Read labels carefully, since many processed foods contain phosphoric acid as well.
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U.S. Food and Drug Administration. CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=182.1073
National Institutes of Health. Phosphorus. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Phosphorus-HealthProfessional/
International Food Additives Council. Sources of Food Ingredients: Phosphoric Acid. https://www.foodingredientfacts.org/facts-on-food-ingredients/sources-of-food-ingredients/phosphoric-acid/
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. Phosphoric Acid. https://www.nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1516.pdf
Wyshak G. Teenaged girls, carbonated beverage consumption, and bone fractures. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000 Jun;154(6):610-3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10850510/
Saldana TM, Basso O, Darden R, Sandler DP. Carbonated beverages and chronic kidney disease. Epidemiology. 2007 Jul;18(4):501-6.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17525693/
Guarnotta V, Riela S, Massaro M, et al. The Daily Consumption of Cola Can Determine Hypocalcemia: A Case Report of Postsurgical Hypoparathyroidism-Related Hypocalcemia Refractory to Supplemental Therapy with High Doses of Oral Calcium. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017 Jan 26;8:7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5266683/
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What Are the Signs of Phosphorus Deficiency?Phosphorus is an essential mineral that the body needs, to perform a wide range of essential functions. Phosphorus is a mineral that combines with other substances to form phosphate compounds. Besides calcium, phosphorus is the most abundantly present mineral in the body.
What Is Phosphoric Acid Used For?Most of the phosphoric acid produced is used to make fertilizers. It is mainly converted into three phosphate salts that are used as fertilizers.
What Is Phosphorus Used For?Phosphorus is an essential mineral that the body needs to perform a wide range of essential functions. It is a mineral that combines with other substances to form phosphate compounds. Besides calcium, phosphorus is the most abundantly present mineral in the body. It has a role in strong healthy teeth and bones.