Phosphorus: Reference and Dietary Sources
In this article, we describe:
- the major purposes of this specific nutrient in the human body,
- its experimentally confirmed health uses,
- conventional ways to estimate nutrient status,
- nutrient’s toxicities and deficiencies,
- experimentally confirmed and approved levels of the nutrient intake for different demographics,
- dietary sources of the nutrient.
Phosphorus is a mineral that makes up 1% of a person’s total body weight. It is the second most abundant mineral in the body. It is present in every cell of the body. Most of the phosphorus in the body is found in the bones and teeth.
The main function of phosphorus is in the formation of bones and teeth.
It plays an important role in how the body uses carbohydrates and fats. It is also needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. Phosphorus also helps the body make ATP, a molecule the body uses to store energy. Phosphorus works with the B vitamins. It also helps with kidney function, muscle contractions, normal heartbeat, and Nerve signaling.
Phosphorus is so readily available in the food supply, so deficiency is rare.
Excessively high levels of phosphorus in the blood, although rare, can combine with calcium to form deposits in soft tissues, such as muscle. High levels of phosphorus in blood only occur in people with severe kidney disease or severe dysfunction of their calcium regulation. In recent years, the increased consumption of soft drinks, which are buffered with phosphates, has been a concern. There may be up to 500 mg of phosphorus per serving of a soft drink, with essentially no calcium.
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Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Phosphorus
|0–6 months*||100 mg||100 mg|
|7-12 months*||275 mg||275 mg|
|1–3 years||460 mg||460 mg|
|4–8 years||500 mg||500 mg|
|9-14 years||1,250 mg||1, 250 mg|
|14-18 years||1,250 mg||1,2050 mg||1,250 mg||1,250 mg|
|19–50 years||700 mg||700 mg||700 mg||700 mg|
* Adequate Intake (AI).
Dietary Sources of Phosphorus
The main food sources are the protein food groups of meat and milk, as well as processed foods that contain sodium phosphate. A diet that includes the right amounts of calcium and protein will also provide enough phosphorus.
Whole-grain breads and cereals contain more phosphorus than cereals and breads made from refined flour. However, the phosphorus is stored in a form that is not absorbed by humans.
Fruits and vegetables contain only small amounts of phosphorus.
Selected Food Sources of Phosphorus
|Food||Milligrams (mg) per Serving||Percent of DV*|
|Pumpkin or squash seeds, without shell, 60 mL (1/4 cup)||676||97|
|Sunflower seeds, without shell, 60 mL (1/4 cup)||375-393||56|
|Tempeh/fermented soy product, cooked, 150 g (3/4 cup)||380||54|
|Sardines, canned in oil, 75g (2 ½ oz)||368||53|
|Cottage cheese, 250 mL (1 cup)||291-358||53|
|Cheese (cheddar, gruyere, swiss, emmental, gouda, mozzarella, edam, provolone), 50 g (1 ½ oz)||232-302||43|
|Beans, adzuki, cooked, 175 mL (3/4 cup)||286||41|
|Milk (3.3 homo, 2, 1, skim, chocolate), 250 mL (1 cup)||217-272||39|
|Lentils, cooked, 175 mL (3/4 cup)||264||38|
|Fortified soy beverage, 250mL (1 cup)||253||36|
|Bran flakes, 30 g||344||36|
|Oatmeal, instant, cooked, 175 mL (¾ cup)||142||36|
|Quinoa, cooked, 125 mL (1/2 cup)||149||36|
|Salmon, canned, 75g (2 ½ oz)||244-247||35|
|Yogurt, Greek, all types, 175g (3/4 cup)||156-246||35|
|Mackerel, cooked, 75g (2 ½ oz)||120-238||34|
|Chickpeas/garbanzo beans, 175 mL (3/4 cup)||204||29|
|Tofu, cooked, 175 mL (3/4 cup)||146-204||29|
|Rainbow trout, cooked, 75g (2 ½ oz)||202||29|
|Pork, various cuts, cooked, 75g (2 ½ oz)||130-221||29|
|Salmon, cooked, 75g (2 ½ oz)||189-192||27|
|Veal, various cuts, cooked, 75g (2 ½ oz)||178-194||27|
|Beans (kidney, black-eyed, cowpeas, cranberry, roman), cooked, 175 mL (3/4 cup)||177-186||27|
|Beef or lamb, various cuts, cooked, 75g (2 ½ oz)||144-180||26|
|Beef, ground, cooked, 75g (2 ½ oz)||134-174||24|
|Chicken or turkey, various cuts, cooked, 75g (2 ½ oz)||134-163||23|
|Egg, cooked, 2 large||126-157||22|
|Tuna, light, canned in water, 75g (2 ½ oz)||104||15|
* DV = Daily Value. The DV for Phosphorus used above is 700 mg. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.
- Elson Haas. “Staying Healthy with Nutrition”
- Phosphorus in diet (MedlinePlus): https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002424.htm
- Food Sources of Phosphorus (UnlockFood.ca brought by Dieticians Canada): https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Phosphorus.aspx