If you have kidney disease, phosphorus can build up in your blood. Learn about which foods are high in phosphorus
Like calcium, phosphorus is also an important mineral found in your bones. Phosphorus keeps your bones strong and is needed to keep other parts of your body healthy.
However, if you have kidney disease, it’s important to limit the amount of phosphorus in your diet. Kidneys that aren’t working well aren’t able to prevent phosphorus from accumulating in your blood, which can lead to heart disease, joint pain, and weak bones.
Your body absorbs significantly less phosphorus in plant-based foods than in processed foods. Since many processed foods contain phosphorus as a thickening agent that prevents spoiling, make sure to check labels avoid items that have words that contain “phos” in them:
Food additives that contain phosphorus include:
- Dicalcium phosphate
- Disodium phosphate
- Monosodium phosphate
- Trisodium phosphate
- Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
- Phosphoric acid
- Monopotassium phosphate
- Sodium acid pyrophosphate
- Sodium tripolyphosphate
- Sodium hexameta-phosphate
- Sodium tripolyphosphate
Foods that tend to be high in phosphorus include:
- Fast foods
- Non-dairy creamers
- Enriched milk
- American cheese
- Canned or jarred processed cheese spreads
- Prepared cheese products in block form
- Some fresh or frozen meats
- Candy bars
- Flavored water
- Fruit punch
- Sports drinks
- Many powdered drink mixes
- Chocolate drinks
Ask your dietician about what alternatives you can include in your diet to lower your phosphorus intake.
What happens if you have too much phosphorus in your blood?
Normal phosphorus levels are between 2.5 to 4.5 mg/dL. When there’s too much phosphorus in your blood, it can pull calcium out of your bones and make them weak. Excess phosphorus and calcium can also travel to your lungs, eyes, heart, and blood vessels and get deposited there, increasing your risk of a heart attack and stroke. The condition may also become life-threatening.
With high blood phosphorus levels, you may also experience:
Can medications keep phosphorus levels under control?
Medications called phosphate binders help control phosphorus levels in your blood and come in various forms such as pills, chewable tablets, powder, and liquids. Your doctor may recommend taking them with meals and snacks. Never take this medication on your own—only when advised by your doctor or dietician.
Can phosphorus levels be too low?
Because most of us get the required amount of phosphorus from our daily diet, only certain conditions increase the risk of low levels of phosphorus in the body, which include:
- Premature birth (premature babies have phosphorus deficiency)
- Rare genetic disorders
- Severe malnutrition
Phosphorus deficiency can cause the following signs and symptoms:
Medically Reviewed on 8/26/2021
Low-phosphorus diet: Helpful for kidney disease? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-kidney-disease/expert-answers/food-and-nutrition/faq-20058408