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Discover 10 Nutritious Foods that Are High in Phosphorus

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder
Salmon is one of the main foods high in phosphorus, an essential mineral needed to support human life.

Phosphorus is a mineral that helps your body maintain healthy bones and teeth. [1] It is essential for life and makes up about 1% of your body weight, making it the second most abundant mineral in your body next to calcium. 85% of the phosphorus in your body is in your teeth and bones; with calcium, it keeps your bones and teeth strong. It also plays a major role in how your body uses carbohydrates and fats, repairs cells, stores energy, and works with B vitamins. Most people are able to get enough phosphorus from their diet, so let’s take a look at the top 10 foods high in phosphorus.

10 Foods High in Phosphorus

Most natural foods contain some amount of phosphorus. Protein-rich foods generally offer the highest amounts of phosphorus, but non-protein sources like whole grains, potatoes, and garlic can also have impressive levels of this essential mineral. Here are 10 foods high in phosphorus: [2]

Food Amount Mg Phosphorus
Sardines w/bone 3 oz 420 mg
Salmon (fresh, cooked) 3 oz 235 mg
Tuna (fresh, cooked) 3 oz 208 mg
Whole Milk 1 cup 227 mg
Cheese (American) 1 oz 211 mg
Yogurt (skim, plain) 1 cup/13g protein 356 mg
Cereals (All Bran®) ½ cup 339 mg
Nuts (cashews) 1 oz/18 nuts 151 mg
Lentils ½ cup 178 mg
Sunflower Seeds 3.5 oz 660 mg

Health Benefits of Phosphorus

In addition to the role it shares with calcium for bone and teeth health, phosphorus is involved with many of your body’s other natural processes. In fact, this mineral plays a role in almost every aspect of your health. Bodily processes that require phosphorus include...

  • Metabolizing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins [3]
  • Regulating how the body stores energy [4]
  • Growing and repairing cells and tissue [5]
  • Building and repairing DNA and RNA [6]
  • Balancing essential vitamins, particularly B and D [7]
  • Maintaining regular muscle activity [8]
  • Managing kidney function and filter waste [9]

Remember, when it comes to minerals and health, balance is key. Too much or too little of a certain mineral can create an imbalance that does more harm than good. That’s why I recommend a reliable mineral supplement, such as IntraMIN®, to help you maintain the proper balance of important minerals. In addition to helping you keep minerals like phosphorus and calcium in equilibrium, IntraMIN will also ensure that you get trace minerals that might otherwise be missing from your diet. Some of the minerals found in this formula include magnesium, silver and boron, and many others.

Maintaining Normal Phosphorus Levels

Getting enough phosphorus is not difficult. Your total daily intake should be between 700 and 1000 mg per day [10], and keep your phosphorus-calcium levels in balance.

Too much phosphorus can deplete your body of calcium and weaken your bones. Excess phosphorus can also lead to a hardening of soft tissue and organs [11], a formation of mineral deposits in your muscles [12], and an imbalance in other minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium [13]. One of the main offenders here is phosphoric acid, which is found in sweet drinks like sodas. Fortunately, consuming too much phosphorus is rare, but it’s something you’ll want to watch out for if you have kidney disease.

Phosphorus deficiency, or hypophosphatemia, is also a rare occurrence. Some medications, including ACE inhibitors, antacids, insulin, and corticosteroids, can lower phosphorus levels [14] in the body. If you do take any of the medications listed, keep an eye out for joint pain, fatigue, anxiety and loss of appetite, as these can all be signs that you are running low on phosphorus. [15]

References (15)
  1. Medline Plus. Phosphorus in Diet. Last updated February 2, 2015.
  2. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Phosphorus. Last updated June, 2005.
  3. Corrigan A, Gorski L, Hankins J, Perucca R, Alexander M, Infusion Nursing: An Evidence-Based Approach (St. Louis: Saunders, Elsevier, 1995, 2001, 2010), 329.
  4. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center. Last reviewed June, 2014.
  5. University of Maryland Medical Center. Phosphorus. Last reviewed August 5, 2015.
  6. Caroline Ashley, “What I Tell My Patients about the Importance of Calcium and Phosphate”, British Journal of Renal Medicine, Vol 15 No 2 (2010): 15.
  7. Tazhibaev ShS, Mamyrbaev AA.[Indices of calcium and phosphorus balance in different variants of protein-vitamin deficiency]. Vopr Pitan. 1982 Sep-Oct;(5):43-7.
  8. Grünberg W, Scherpenisse P, Dobbelaar P, Idink MJ, Wijnberg ID. The effect of transient, moderate dietary phosphorus deprivation on phosphorus metabolism, muscle content of different phosphorus-containing compounds, and muscle function in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2015 Aug;98(8):5385-400. doi: 10.3168/jds.2015-9357. Epub 2015 May 28.
  9. Moreira DM1, Friedlander JI2, Hartman C3, Gershman B4, Smith AD3, Okeke Z3. Association of estimated glomerular filtration rate with 24-h urinalysis and stone composition . Urolithiasis. 2015 Nov 16. [Epub ahead of print].
  10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide. Llast updated August 20, 2015.
  11. Calvo MS, Uribarri J. Public health impact of dietary phosphorus excess on bone and cardiovascular health in the general population. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jul;98(1):6-15. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.053934. Epub 2013 May 29.
  12. Anderson JJB,* Klemmer PJ. Risk of High Dietary Calcium for Arterial Calcification in Older Adults. Nutrients. 2013 Oct; 5(10): 3964–3974. Published online 2013 Sep 30. doi: 10.3390/nu5103964.
  13. Moe SM. Disorders Involving Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium. Prim Care. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2008 Jul 28. Published in final edited form as: Prim Care. 2008 Jun; 35(2): 215–vi. doi: 10.1016/j.pop.2008.01.007.
  14. Liamis G, Milionis HJ, Elisaf M. Medication-induced hypophosphatemia: a review. QJM. 2010 Jul;103(7):449-59. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcq039. Epub 2010 Mar 30.
  15. Medline Plus. Hypophosphatemia. Last updated November 9, 2014.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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