Most people know that they should be monitoring their intake of certain nutrients, such as protein and, like me, calcium. However, only a few people are aware that they should also be keeping an eye on their phosphorus levels.
Phosphorus is an essential mineral found in a lot of everyday food. While a regular healthy diet will and should include phosphorus, too much can be harmful.
What is Phosphorus, and Why Do We Need It?
Phosphorus is a mineral that is found in a lot of foods. It’s an essential part of a healthy diet, used by the body to build strong bones and teeth. It’s also used by cells to make energy necessary for cell growth and repair of cells and tissues.
Most people get the phosphorus they need from eating a variety of foods, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts, and legumes.
While phosphorus is essential for good health, too much can be harmful.
Where in The Body Phosphorus is Found?
Almost 85% of the phosphorus in our bodies is found in bones and teeth. The rest is found in cells, where it helps produce energy for the body to use, among other things.
The proportion of phosphorus in the body is roughly as follows:
- Bones and teeth: 85%
- Cells: 13%
- Blood: 1.5%
- Other soft tissues: 0.5%
Which Foods Contain Phosphorus?
Phosphorus is found in many foods, but some foods are higher in phosphorus than others. There are lots of great sources of phosphorus, including:
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Fish and shellfish
- Nuts and seeds
- Meat and poultry
There are also several poor sources of phosphorus, including :
- Processed foods such as packaged snacks, and frozen meals
- Highly refined grains like white flour and white rice
- Added sugars such as those found in candy, cookies, and cake
- Processed drinks such as sodas and colas
Phosphorus in Soda / Cola Beverages
One of the worst sources of phosphorus is soda. A can of soda contains about 150 mg of phosphorus, while a two-liter bottle has over 700 mg.
Diet sodas are no better, as they also contain high levels of phosphorus. With the recommended daily intake of phosphorus for >19-year-olds being ~700 mg/day, it’s easy to see how soda can quickly put someone over the limit.
More Research is Needed on Phosphorus Intake and Health
Excessive phosphorus intake may lead to health problems, such as kidney damage, hardening of arterial walls, cardiovascular disease, and issues with bone density.
While more research is needed to understand the effects of excessive phosphorus intake better, it’s clear that too much can be harmful. So, be sure to monitor your phosphorus intake and avoid eating too much. So next time you’re at the store looking for some snacks (which I’m sure we all do from time to time) take a look at the phosphorus levels.
Just great isn’t it? Another thing we need to be mindful of!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Should the average everyday person care about phosphorus?
Yes, phosphorus is an essential mineral important across bodily functions. It’s found in a lot of food, so most people get enough through their diet. However, it’s possible to have too much phosphorus, which can be harmful, and it can be easier than you’d think to consume too much!
What food is high in phosphorus?
High phosphorus foods include:
- Red meat and processed meat.
- Dairy products.
- Some nuts and seeds.
- A few other food groups.
Many people get enough phosphorus through their diet without even trying, but it’s something to be aware of if you think you might be consuming too much.
How do I know if my phosphorus level is high?
Symptoms of high phosphorus levels can be nonspecific, such as fatigue and weakness. If you’re concerned about your phosphorus level, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who can help you determine if you need to be concerned and how to lower your phosphorus intake if necessary.