Here’s why you need phosphorus in your diet, a mineral that promotes bone strength
02/25/2020 // Darnel Fernandez // Views

Phosphorus is a mineral that the body needs to perform important functions, such as repairing tissues and filtering waste. It is the second most plentiful mineral in the body – next to calcium – and it is used to keep the bones strong and healthy. However, as an essential mineral, phosphorus cannot be produced by the body, and should be obtained through diet instead.

Why dietary phosphorus is good for you

Phosphorus offers a variety of health benefits because it supports different systems in the body:

  • Builds up strong bones and teeth
  • Manages the body's energy
  • Assists in muscle contraction
  • Maintains regular heartbeat
  • Reduces muscle pain after exercise

Getting too much dietary phosphorus is not a problem in most cases. In fact, it is more common to have an excess of phosphorus in the body than too little, as studies show that many adults eat significantly more phosphorus than the recommended daily amount. However, those with chronic kidney disease or people whose bodies have problems processing calcium might experience complications due to the buildup of phosphorous. People with kidney disease have difficulties with purging the mineral from the blood and might need to limit their phosphorus consumption.

Excessive levels of phosphorus in the blood can absorb calcium from the bones, weakening them in the process. There is also the chance of the phosphorus combining with calcium to form deposits in the body's soft tissues. These deposits can increase your risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke. Further, research has shown that high phosphorous consumption can lead to negative effects like abnormal proteins found in the urine, injuries to the kidney tubes and premature death in animals.


On the other hand, while people can easily get more than the recommended amount of phosphorus every day, certain groups of people may need a little help with their phosphorus intake. Those with diabetes who regularly take insulin to manage their blood sugar and those with an alcohol use disorder may experience a phosphorus deficiency. In addition, certain medicines like ACE inhibitors can also lower the body's phosphorus levels. Symptoms of phosphorus deficiency include:

  • Joint and bone pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Electrolyte imbalances

In very rare cases, low phosphorus levels can even induce a coma or trigger other life-threatening complications. A health practitioner can usually deal with low phosphorus levels by treating an underlying condition. They also often recommend people make healthy dietary changes or take supplements to ensure that their patients get adequate levels of phosphorus every day.

How to get more phosphorus

While phosphorus can be found in plenty of common foods, there are certain foods that are better dietary sources of phosphorus. The reference daily intake (RDI) of phosphorus for adults is around 700 mg. Here's a list of foods chock-full of phosphorus to add to your diet:

  1. Whole grains. Many types of whole grain, like wheat, oats and rice, are great sources of phosphorous. For example, whole wheat contains the most phosphorus among the three, netting about 194 g of phosphorus per cooked cup. Most of the phosphorus available in grains is found in the outer layer of the endosperm, which is removed when the grains are processed and refined. So, go for whole grains for your daily phosphorus intake. (Related: Whole grains can increase your lifespan, decrease diabetes, heart disease risk and more.)
  2. Chicken and turkey. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, can provide a good chunk of phosphorus, especially light poultry meat. A single cup or 140 g of roast chicken or poultry can provide around 300 mg of phosphorus for your RDI. While you can definitely get phosphorus from poultry cooked in other ways, certain cooking methods can lower the phosphorus content of the meat. Roasting serves as the best method for maintaining phosphorus while boiling poultry meat reduces the phosphorus level by up to 25 percent.

Learn more about the health benefits of phosphorus and other minerals at

Sources include: 1 2

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