Cardiovascular health could be affected by the amount of phosphate in blood, according to a study from the University of Surrey.
Previous research claimed high levels of blood phosphate increased the risk of developing a heart condition.
But, this is the first study to find low levels of phosphate – from the mineral phosphorus – was equally as risky.
The perfect amount of blood phosphate was about 1-1.25mmol/L, the researchers said.
The current recommended daily allowance of phosphorus is about 700mg a day.
“The importance of phosphate in primary and secondary healthcare should be reviewed,” said Dr Nick Hayward, lead author of the research.
“It is often overlooked in blood tests, yet phosphate may be a new risk factor for heart disease in adults.
Doctors should inform patients of how to reduce their phosphate levels, if they’re at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease, the scientists urged.
Phosphate is an important mineral in the body, and helps to regulate other blood minerals. It plays a crucial role in delivering oxygen to the body from the heart.
The study analysed the phosphate levels in more than 100,000 patients, over a period of both five and nine-year intervals.
Those with a blood phosphate level less than 0.75mmol/L were at a similar risk of developing coronary problems as those with blood phosphate levels above 1.5mmol/L.
Researcher Dr Andy McGovern said: “Our findings shed new light on the role of phosphate in the body and its relationship to cardiovascular health.
“In light of our findings, we would suggest that clinicians consider people with low phosphate levels to be at higher cardiovascular risk and assess ways in which this can be reduced for each patient.”
Meat, poultry and fish are all packed full of phosphates.
Salmon contains about 371mg of phosphorus per 100g – one of the richest sources of the mineral phosphorus.
Pumpkin and squash seeds have even more of the mineral – about 1233mg per 100g of seeds.
Cardiovascular disease causes more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK. That’s about 160,000 deaths each year, according to the British Heart Foundation.