Phosphorus is an essential mineral found in many foods. In the diet and body, phosphorus usually binds to other minerals in the form of phosphate salts.

Phosphates are involved in cell structure, energy transport and storage, vitamin function, and many other essential processes in the body. Phosphate salts can act as laxatives by causing more fluid to be drawn into the intestines and making the gut push out its contents faster.

People use phosphate salts for bowel cleansing, low blood levels of phosphate, constipation, high blood levels of calcium, and heartburn. They are also used for athletic performance, osteoporosis, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.

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