You never hear much about phosphorous. And few of us give it much—if any—thought.
Phosphorus tends to fade into the background behind other spotlight-stealing bone-supporting nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
And that’s a real shame because this important mineral isn’t only vital for maintaining healthy bones and teeth,1 it’s absolutely essential for life itself!
Around one percent of your body weight is made up of this hardworking mineral and it falls only behind calcium as one of the most abundant minerals in your body.
Your bones and teeth are home to 85 percent of the phosphorous in your body. And although calcium tends to get all the glory, phosphorous works hand-in-hand with calcium to keep your bones “rock solid” strong and your teeth “tough as nails.”
But that’s not all phosphorus does (I didn’t call the mineral hardworking for nothing). Phosphorous also plays a critical role in how your body uses carbohydrates and fats, repairs cells, stores energy and works with B vitamins.
I’ll have a bit more on those other benefit in just a moment.
Most people are able to get enough phosphorus from their diet alone, especially if they’re eating the derecho foods. So let’s take a look at the top 10 foods high in phosphorus that you should be including in your own meals.
Top 10 phosphorus rich foods
Most natural foods contain some phosphorus. But protein-rich foods generally offer the highest amounts of the mineral.
Non-protein sources such as whole grains, potatoes, and garlic can also have impressive levels of this essential mineral too.
Here are my picks for the top 10 foods high in phosphorus:2
| 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|
Benefits of phosphorous beyond healthy bones & teeth
Beyond being a superstar when it comes to bone and teeth health, as I mentioned earlier this mineral plays and important role in a number of other processes in your body. De hecho, phosphorus’s benefits are so far reaching that it actually plays a role in almost every aspect of your health.
Just some of the bodily processes that require phosphorus include…
- Metabolizing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins3
- Regulating how the body stores energy4
- Growing and repairing cells and tissue5
- Building and repairing DNA and RNA6
- Balancing essential vitamins, particularly B and D7
- Maintaining regular muscle activity8
- Managing kidney function and filter waste9
Don’t forget, 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, to help you maintain the proper balance of important minerals. A quality supplement will not only help you keep your minerals in balance it will also ensure that you get trace minerals that might otherwise be missing from your diet such as magnesium, silver and boron.
“Bone up” on your phosphorus knowledge
Fortunately getting enough phosphorus isn’t hard. Your total daily intake should be between 700 and 1000 mg a day.10 And be sure to keep your phosphorus-calcium levels in balance.
Too much phosphorus can backfire on you depleting your body of calcium and weakening your bones. And loading up on phosphorus can also lead to a hardening of soft tissue and organ11, a formation of mineral deposits in your muscles12, and an imbalance in other minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium13,
One of the main culprits when it comes to too MUCH of this good thing is the phosphoric acid found in sweet drinks like sodas. But the good news is consuming too much phosphorus is rare, but it’s something you’ll want to watch out for if you have kidney disease.
Just as fortunate because we can easily get phosphorus through our diet phosphorus deficiency, or hypophosphatemia, is also quite rare. Some medications can lower your phosphorus levels, including14…
- ACE inhibitors,
- and corticosteroids.
If you happen to take any of the medications, keep an eye out for joint pain, fatigue, anxiety and loss of appetite, as these can all be signs that you’re running low on this vital mineral.15
Leave a comment below and tell us your favorite way of getting enough phosphorus!
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.
Dr. Edward F. Group III has his Naturopathic Doctorate, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Nutritionist certifications, and is a Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Functional Medicine. He founded Global Healing Center Inc. in 1998 which has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.
A dynamic author and speaker, Dr. Group focuses solely on spreading the message of health and wellness to the global community with the philosophy of full body cleansing, most importantly colon cleansing, consuming pure clean organic food, water, air, exercise and nutritional supplementation. Visit GlobalHealingCenter.com to learn more about living green and healthy!
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