Foods High in Phosphorus- Ultimate Guide on Phosphorus Functions

Foods High in Phosphorus

Today I will talk about Phosphorus Foods and its benefits. In this article, I have given detailed charts about foods high in phosphorus along with signs and symptoms that may occur because of a deficiency of phosphorus. But first, let me give a brief intro about this amazing nutrient. Foods High in Phosphorus.Foods High in Phosphorus

Phosphorus is the 2nd most abundant mineral in the body. It makes 1% of the person’s total body weight. Phosphorus is required for the functioning of the body. More than 85% of the phosphorus is found in the bones of the adult body. Others are found in muscles, organs, blood, and other fluids.

Phosphorus is present in every cell of the body and it works with calcium and other nutrients in helping the body to perform its function properly. It is an essential element for the life of organisms on earth. Phosphorus is found in the form of phosphate in the environment. Phosphates are important substances in the human body because they are part of DNA materials and they take part in energy production. Foods High in Phosphorus

There are two main types of phosphorus:

  1. White phosphorus:

It is the most dangerous form of phosphorus. It occurs in nature and can be dangerous to our health. It can cause skin burn and damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. It is extremely poisonous and exposure to it will be fatal.

  1. Red phosphorus:

Red phosphorus is polymeric in structure. It is formed by heating white phosphorus at 250 degrees or by exposure to sunlight.Foods High in Phosphorus

History of phosphorus

In 1669, HENNIG BRAND discovered phosphorus (the first element). In his experiment, he used urine, which contains considerable quantities of dissolved phosphate from normal metabolism. Working on his experiment he produced a white material that glowed in dark and burnt brilliantly. He allowed the urine to stand for days until it gives a very bad smell. He boiled it down to a paste, at a very high temperature. He found a white material that glowed in the dark thus he found phosphorus. Foods High in Phosphorus


  1. Kidney function:

Phosphorus keeps kidney healthy when consumed in a moderate amount. Excess may cause body changes and it can pull out calcium from your body. It helps the kidney to excrete waste.

  1. Aids in digestion:

Phosphorus plays a role in the digestion of riboflavin and niacin (vitamins) that helps the human body to repair any oxidative damage. Neurological response system and metabolic processes are performed in the presence of these vitamins (riboflavin and niacin). Phosphorus absorption through digestion causes energy production in the human body.

  1. Maintenance of bones and teeth:

Along with calcium, Phosphorus has a major function in the maintenance of bones and teeth. Calcium phosphate accounts for about 85% in the bones and teeth. It is an integral part of pregnant women diet and is also essential for the bone development of babies.

  1. The flow of energy:

Phosphorus has a role in converting food to energy, its production and its utilization in the human body. It provides phosphate in ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which is the high energy carrier molecule in the body’s primary metabolic cycles. For energy production, it utilizes carbohydrates and fats.

  1. Brain functioning:

Phosphorus promotes the growth and development of brain cells. It helps in maintaining a healthy memory system as the mind ages. So, it is an important element in the functioning of the brain.

  1. Balancing hormones:

Hormones are an essential part of the human body and phosphorus helps to run the control mechanism of the human body. It maintains the hormones associated with reproduction. It interacts with the endocrine gland and prevents the excessive release of hormones in the bloodstream.

  1. Repair and maintenance of body cells:

Phosphorus has a role in maintaining human body cells, so, they can perform their functions properly and also repair them if they are damaged or ruptured. Environmental changes and eating habits can affect our cellular health, phosphorus is a mineral that helps to prevent that damage by creating the required form of protein for cell repair and decreases the effect of free radicals on the human body.

  1. Muscles functioning:

Phosphorus also functions in muscle contraction and help to prevent muscle fatigue. The human body needs to maintain an adequate amount of phosphorus. So, our body can function properly, adults require 1200mg per day to reduce any signs of weakness and fatigue.

  1. Protein metabolism:

Phosphorus plays an important role in the metabolism of protein; it causes the breakdown of protein and fats in an effective manner to promote healthy absorption of nutrients as metabolism is an important process of the human body to keep organs work properly.

  1. Weight loss:

Phosphorus is a key element in human body metabolism. It reduces fat by the breakdown of carbohydrate and fat and it also prevents the absorption of bad fats in the stomach lining. It increases human body metabolism.

  1. Nutritional absorption:

Healthy functioning of the human body requires the absorption of good nutrients from the food effectively. Phosphorus is a part of enzymatic and biochemical reactions in the human body. it is responsible for the absorption of nutrients in the digestive system.

  1. Eliminate toxics:

Elimination of the harmful chemicals and metals in the kidney is done with phosphorus. It helps in balancing out the uric acid from the human body, which prevents serious inflammation. It detoxifies the liver and kidney, which saves the human body from serious chronic illness.

  1. Maintaining acid-base balance:

It acts as an important buffer in maintaining the normal acid-base balance of the human body. It eliminates hydrogen ion and generating bicarbonates that help to maintain blood plasma PH within a normal range.

Other functions include:

  • Can be helpful in cases of vitamin D resistant rickets
  • The structural component of the cell membrane is phospholipid that is produced by phosphorus.
  • Helps in the utilization of vitamin B complexes in the human body
  • Needed for heart muscle contraction and to regulate heartbeat.
  • It supports poor nerve and muscle functioning
  • Helps to alleviate multiple sclerosis.

Deficiency of phosphorus:


  • “Low level of phosphate in the body is termed as hypophosphatemia”.
  • Causes include alcoholism, burns, starvation and diuretic use. It can be acute and chronic.
  • In chronic: symptoms may be anorexia, muscle weakness, osteomalacia.
  • In acute: serious neuromuscular disturbances, seizures, coma and death.


  1. Oral phosphate replacement
  2. Parenteral treatment

Signs and symptoms are:-

  1. Poor bone formation:

Phosphorus along with calcium work to keep our bones and teeth healthy. Deficiency of phosphorus may lead to poor bone formation

  1. Rickets:

“Softening of bones in children is termed as rickets”. This may result in skeletal problems which include knock knees, bowed legs, spinal curvature, narrowed chest, and soft skull bones. Phosphorus is also important for growing ages.

  1. Osteomalacia:

“Softening of bones in adults is termed as osteomalacia”. This may lead to bone fractures, deformities in the spine and limbs and arthritic-like pain. Phosphorus plays a vital role in the strengthening of bones and protects them from such symptoms. Foods High in Phosphorus

  1. Difficulty in walking:

This also happens due to deficiency of phosphorus. Phosphorus is important in all ages of life. Low intake of it may lead to difficulty in walking, due to weak bones

  1. Increased susceptibility to infection:

Hyperphosphatemia (high intake of phosphorus) may lead to the risk of infections. Phosphorus should be taken according to RDI value. Otherwise, it may cause a greater risk of infections. It is highly prevalent in dialysis patients. The risk for infectious morbidity and mortality has been shown to increase in patients with increased phosphate levels.

  1. Fatigue and muscle weakness:

ATP fuels numerous biochemical reactions of our body and it is the energy source for almost all the cells in the body.

The body uses ATP as an energy source. When levels of phosphorus are low in the body, cells cannot use ATP, which means, that muscles are weak to contract due to lack of energy.

  1. Anemia:

The increased bursting of RBC’s is termed as anemia. Low level of phosphorus cause less ATP production, as a result, cells cannot fuel the essential biochemical reactions of life and this lead to anemia. RBC’s transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, when the level of RBC’s drop in the human body it fails to transport oxygen to the body, resulting in fatigue.

  1. Loss of appetite and weight loss:

Low level of phosphorus may lead to weight loss due to impaired feed efficiency.

Foods High in Phosphorus

phosphorus foods

The foods that contain phosphorus are listed below:

  1. Meat products:

Meat products are good sources of phosphorus. Light meat products contain more phosphorus as compare to dark meat products.

  • Chicken and turkey:

Chicken and turkey contain 300mg of phosphorus that is 40% of RDI.

  • Beef:

Beef contains 134-174mg of phosphorus per 75g of serving size

  • Beef/chicken liver:

Beef/chicken liver contains 345-373mg of phosphorus per 75g of serving size

  • Beef/chicken kidney:

Beef/chicken kidneys contain 228mg of phosphorus per 75g of serving size.

  • Lamb:

Lamb contains 144-180mg of phosphorus per 75g of serving size

  • Deer:

Deer contains 174-224mg of phosphorus per 75g of serving size

  1. Seafood:

Many types of fishes are good sources of phosphorus

  • Salmon provide 274mg of phosphorus that is 39% of RDI.
  • Crab:

Crab contains 210mg of phosphorus per 75g of serving size

  • Trout:

Trout contains 202mg of phosphorus per 75g of serving size

  • Sardines:

Sardines contain 368mg of phosphorus per 75g of serving size

  • Tuna:

Tuna contains 104mg of phosphorus per 75g of serving size

  1. Dairy products:

Low-fat dairy products are excellent sources of phosphorus.

  • Milk:

Milk contains 217-272mg of phosphorus per 250ml of serving size

  • Cheese:

Cheese contains 232-302mg of phosphorus per 50g of serving size

  • Yogurt:

Yogurt contains 183-217mg of phosphorus per 175g of serving size

  • Buttermilk:

Buttermilk contains 212-230mg of phosphorus per 250ml of serving size

  • Soy beverages:

Soy beverages contain 253mg of phosphorus per 250ml of serving size

  • Yogurt beverages:

Yogurt beverages contain 168mg of phosphorus per 200ml of serving size

  • Egg:

Egg contains 126-157mg of phosphorus per 2 large servings

  1. Grain/cereal products:

Grain products contain good levels of phosphorus. Some of the grain products are:

  • Wheat bran:

Wheat bran contains 270mg of phosphorus per 30g of serving size

  • Rice bran:

Rice bran contains 335mg of phosphorus per 20g of serving size

  • Quinoa:

Quinoa contains 149mg of phosphorus per 125ml of serving size

  • Oatmeal:

Oatmeal contains 138-177mg of phosphorus per 175ml of serving size

  • Wheat germ cereal:

Wheat germ cereals contain 344mg of phosphorus per 30g of serving size

  1. Nuts and seeds:

Nuts and seeds are good sources of phosphorus and contain 40% of the RDI. It includes:

  • Sunflower seeds:

It contains 375-393mg of phosphorus per 60ml of serving size

  • Pumpkin seeds:

It contains 676mg of phosphorus per 60ml of serving size.

  • Almonds:

Almonds contain 174-208mg of phosphorus per 60ml of serving size

  • Pistachios:

Pistachios contain 146-153mg of phosphorus per 60ml of serving size

  • Brazil nuts:

Brazil nuts are high in phosphorus and contain 257mg of phosphorus per 60ml of serving size.

  1. Lentils:

Lentils are good sources of phosphorus and contain 264mg of phosphorus per 175ml of serving size

  1. Beans:

Beans are good sources of phosphorus and contain 194-216mg of phosphorus per 175ml of serving size

  1. Tofu:

Tofu contains 146-204mg of phosphorus per 150mg of serving size

Foods high and low in phosphorus:

High phosphorus foods Low phosphorus foods
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, custard, cottage cheese, ice cream, pudding Fresh fruits such as apples, apricots, blackberries, grapes, pear, peaches
Nuts, seeds and peanut butter Popcorn and crackers
Dried beans and peas such as black beans, baked beans, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, northern beans and soybeans Fresh vegetables such as cauliflower, carrot, cucumber, celery, green beans and broccoli
Bran cereals, whole grain products Rice cereal, sherbet
Beverages such as cocoa, ale, beer, chocolate drinks and dark cola drinks. Coffee and tea without milk, light-colored sodas and fruit juices.

Other food sources

  • Chocolate candies
  • Caramel candies
  • Oat bran muffins
  • Pizza
  • Potatoes
  • Dried fruits
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Brewer’s yeast

Other names of phosphorus on food labels:

  • Dicalcium phosphate
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Monosodium phosphate
  • Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Sodium hexametaphosphate
  • Sodium tripolyphosphate
  • Sodium aluminum phosphate
  • Polyphosphates
  • Pyrophosphates

Checking nutritional labels for hidden phosphorus:

Many nutrients are listed on food labels you buy; it is not required by law for phosphorus to be listed. Therefore, it is rarely including on the label. As no one knows the value of phosphorus to be consumed on daily basis, here is 3 levels for phosphorus consumption:

  1. Low level of phosphorus
  2. Medium level of phosphorus
  3. High level of phosphorus
  • In low, the value is less than 5%
  • In the medium, the value is 5-15%
  • In high, the value is more than 15% that accounts about 150mg of daily value.

RDI (recommended daily intake) of phosphorus:

  1. For infant:
  • 0-6 months: 100mg
  • 7-12 months: 275mg
  1. Children:
  • 1-3 years: 460mg
  • 4-8 years: 500 mg
  • 9-18 years: 1,250 mg
  1. Adults
  • 19-70 years: 700mg
  • 70 above: 700mg
  • Pregnant women: 700mg
  • Breastfeeding women: 700mg

The risk associated with too much phosphorus:

  • Too much consumption of phosphorus can be toxic as it can lead to hardening of organs and soft tissues. It can also cause diarrhea.
  • High intake of phosphorus decreases body ability to use other minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc
  • It is dangerous to have too much phosphorus in your blood.

Risks associated with too little phosphorus:

Low level of phosphorus is related to low levels of vitamin D and calcium. Low levels of phosphorus may cause:

  • Joint or bone pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Poor bone development in children
  • Anxiety

How to get the right amount of phosphorus?

Phosphate binders are taken with meals and snacks and limit the amount of phosphorus that your body can absorb.

Lifestyle balance can help to maintain good levels of phosphorus in our body by regular exercise, stay well- hydrated, eat a balanced diet that contains the recommended level of phosphorus.

Phosphorus supplements:

Phosphorus is an important element for the human body functioning. The people who are suffering from hypophosphatemia are given phosphorus supplements to meet their RDI value. Hyperphosphatemia is dangerous and cause toxicity in the human body. The supplements are:

  • Visicol
  • Phospho soda
  • Phospha 250 neutral
  • Osmoprep
  • K-phos original
  • K-Phos neutral
  • Fleet phosphor soda EZ-prep

How does the human body get phosphorus?

Phosphorus is absorbed in the small intestine and most of the phosphorus is stored in the bones.

The human body gets phosphorus from the balanced and nutritious diet as it is naturally found in so many foods. Prepared food, colas and other canned and bottled drinks contain a high level of phosphorus. Consumption of such things must be controlled in order to have a healthy body. In America, people eat a lot of prepared foods, colas and they are at risk of hyperphosphatemia. Phosphorus intake of Americans has been increased by 10-15%.

What is the relation between phosphorus, calcium, vitamin D and the parathyroid hormone?

In relation with kidney, they all play a vital role in controlling the levels of phosphorus in the bloodstream.

  • Healthy bones and teeth are formed by calcium and phosphorus
  • Healthy kidneys play a role in keeping these two vitamins in balance in the blood
  • Kidney also play a role in the conversion of vitamin D in an active hormone (calcitriol) that helps in the absorption of more calcium from the intestine into the blood
  • When the level of calcium is low in the body, parathyroid glands produce the more parathyroid hormone. This results in the pulling of calcium from bones into the blood. A too much parathyroid hormone may cause bone weakness and bones may break easily (RENAL OSTEODYSTROPHY).

7 ways to control phosphorus levels

  • Remove the amount of phosphorus you eat
  • Take phosphorus binders
  • Take vitamin D
  • Stay on dialysis the entire time
  • Start an exercise program
  • Get an operation to remove some of the parathyroid glands.

Strategies to help control hidden phosphorus in your diet

  • First, be mindful of where you shop. Because phosphate additives are inexpensive.
  • These products are carried by multipurpose mega centers and budget markets
  • Second, look for the foods that have low levels of phosphorus. The foods such as orange flavored and fruit punch flavored beverages and some other premixed punches contain phosphorus. Premixed products are highly expensive. In the comparison of premixed products, unsweetened products are less expensive.
  • Third, let your dietician know what food or beverages you are eating and drinking either it contain high or low levels of phosphorus.
  • Finally, limit phosphorus as you can. You may need to purchase:
  • Meat products enhanced with phosphorus
  • Fresh rice instead of instant rice
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables that do not contain additional sauce.

About the author:

Hi!! My name is Zahra Naqvi. I’m doing my BS in human nutrition and dietetics. My topic of the article is phosphorus that plays vital roles in the human body. I hope you all like this article. THANK YOU!!

Team-Nutrition Lab 

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  1. Amazed to read this article..
    briefly described every single thing… i was unaware of most of the things abt ths Trace nutrient…. informative article…. Well done Zahra…♥?Congrats?

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