Top 10 Foods Highest in Phosphorus

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Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
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Top 10 Foods Highest in Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a vital nutrient needed for healthy cells, calcium regulation, strong bones and teeth, and producing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which provides energy to our cells. (1,2,3)

A deficiency of phosphorus can lead to anemia and muscle weakness. (4,5) Phosphorus is found in almost every food and deficiency is rare.

Conversely consuming too much phosphorus causes the body to send calcium from the bones to the blood in an attempt to restore balance. This transfer of calcium weakens bones and can cause calcification of internal organs, increasing the risk of heart attack and other vascular diseases. (6)

Phosphorus is better absorbed from meats than plants. Plants contain phytin which "locks" phosphorus from being absorbed. (7) Despite this, as much as 50% of the phosphors in plants may be absorbed. (8)

Phosphorus is also added as a preservative to various foods. 100% of this phosphorus is absorbed, so check product labels for anything which says "Phosphate". (9)

Natural food sources high in phosphorus include fish, pork, tofu, milk, chicken, scallops, lentils, squash seeds, beef, and whole grains. The daily value (DV) for phosphorus is 1250mg. (10)

Below is a list of high phosphorus foods by common serving size.

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Printable list of foods high in phosphorus.

The Top 10 High Phosphorus Foods by Nutrient Density (Phosphorus per 100 Grams)

1. Rice Bran 100 grams 134% DV
2. Whey Powder 100 grams 108% DV
3. Soy Based Protein Powder 100 grams 102% DV
4. Dried Pumpkin And Squash Seeds 100 grams 99% DV
5. Roasted Sunflower Seeds 100 grams 92% DV
6. Chia Seeds 100 grams 69% DV
7. Sesame Butter (Tahini) 100 grams 60% DV
8. Shredded Parmesan 100 grams 59% DV
9. Cocoa Powder 100 grams 59% DV
10. Brazilnuts 100 grams 58% DV

How Much Phosphorus Do You Need Everyday?

The daily value (%DV) for Phosphorus is 1250mg and is a general target intended for most people. (10) The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) shows specific targets by age and gender. The RDA for Phosphorus is between 460mg - 1250mg for most people.

Life StageRDA
0-6 months old100mg
7-12 months old275mg
1-3 years old460mg
4-8 years old500mg
9-18 years old1250mg
19-70 years old700mg
70+ years old700mg
9-18 years old1250mg
19-50 years old700mg
50+ years old700mg
14-18 years old1250mg
19-50 years old700mg
14-18 years old1250mg
19-50 years old700mg
*The amounts for children less than 1 year old is the adequate intake (AI) not RDA.
Source: Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride.

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Data Sources and References

  1. Yamazaki M, Ozono K, Okada T, Tachikawa K, Kondou H, Ohata Y, Michigami T. Phosphate as a Signaling Molecule J Cell Biochem. 2010 Dec 1;111(5):1210-21. doi: 10.1002/jcb.22842. 20717920
  2. [No authors listed] Phosphorus and calcium: a review for the adult nutrition support clinician Nutr Clin Pract. 2015 Jun;30(3):450. doi: 10.1177/0884533615585979. 25991641
  3. Wimmer JLE, Xavier JC, Vieira ADN, Pereira DPH, Leidner J, Sousa FL, Kleinermanns K, Preiner M, Martin WF. On the potential roles of phosphorus in the early evolution of energy metabolism Front Microbiol. 2021 Dec 13;12:793664. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.793664. eCollection 2021. 34966373
  4. Skipper A. [Lack of phosphorus intake and nutrition] Nutr Clin Pract. 2012 Feb;27(1):34-40. doi: 10.1177/0884533611427916. 22307490
  5. Petersen KF, Dufour S, Shulman GI. Hypophosphatemia promotes lower rates of muscle ATP synthesis PLoS Med. 2005 Sep;2(9):e233. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020233. Epub 2005 Aug 16. 16089501
  6. Kido S, Nomura K, Sasaki S, Shiozaki Y, Segawa H, Tatsumi S. Dietary phosphorus in bone health and quality of life Clin Calcium. 2012 Oct;22(10):1583-91. 23023640
  7. Pramitha JL, Rana S, Aggarwal PR, Ravikesavan R, Joel AJ, Muthamilarasan M. Phytic Acid and Whole Grains for Health Controversy Adv Genet. 2021;107:89-120. doi: 10.1016/bs.adgen.2020.11.003. Epub 2020 Dec 17. 33641749
  8. Buades Fuster JM, Sanchís Cortés P, Perelló Bestard J, Grases Freixedas F. Perspective: Plant-based Whole-Grain Foods for Chronic Kidney Disease: The Phytate-Phosphorus Conundrum Nefrologia. 2017 Jan-Feb;37(1):20-28. doi: 10.1016/j.nefro.2016.07.001. Epub 2016 Sep 30. 27697413
  9. Kido S, Nomura K, Sasaki S, Shiozaki Y, Segawa H, Tatsumi S. Organic and inorganic dietary phosphorus and its management in chronic kidney disease Clin Calcium. 2012 Oct;22(10):1583-91. 23023640
  10. U.S.FDA - Daily Value on the New Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels
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