Phosphorus in Foods

Foods which are good sources of Phosphorus.

This page concentrates on foods high in phosphorus and the benefits of having a sufficient level of this mineral in your diet. Here we will discuss what phosphorus is as well as showing you a variety of different foods high in phosphorus. We will also look at why people might have a phosphorus deficiency and how this can be avoided.

Phosphorus is found in almost all foods, though some are a better dietary source than others. Deficiencies are therefore rare, though they can have serious side effects. One of the main benefits of phosphorus rich foods is that they also contain various other essential nutrients. For more information on what these nutrients are and how they can benefit your health and well being, please check out our other pages listed in the drop down menus.

What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus is the sixth most abundant element in the human body and makes up around 1% of its mass. This is around 0.7 kg in the average adult. Nearly 90% of phosphorus is found in the bones and teeth. It is no surprise then, that the average adult requires around 1000 mg (1 g) of phosphorus every day in order to remain healthy.

Phosphorus is essential for many processes including cell functioning, regulation of calcium, strong bones and teeth, and energy production. A deficiency can lead to lowered appetite, anaemia and muscle pain and a weakened immune system. It can also be a factor in diseases leading to improper bone formation, though conversely consuming too much phosphorus (3000 mg per day for children or 4000 mg per day for adults on average) can also weaken bones. This is because excess phosphorus causes the body to send calcium from the bones into the blood in an attempt to restore the balance. It is therefore important to consume close to the recommended 1000 mg of phosphorus a day on a regular basis.

RDI Phosphorus

  • 700 – 1000mg Adults
  • 1250mg Children 9-18 years
  • 500mg Children 4-8 years
  • 460mg Toddler 1-3 years
  • 275mg Infants 7-12 months
  • 100mg Infants 0-6 months

List of Phosphorus Rich Foods

Which foods contain Phosphorus?

Foods high in phosphorus

Foods containing more than 500 mg of phosphorus are highlighted. All measurements are per 100g (3.5 oz)

  • Almonds – 484 mg
  • Bacon – 533 mg
  • Beef – 286 mg
  • Brazil nuts – 725 mg
  • Broccoli 67 mg
  • Cashew nuts – 531 mg
  • Cheese (parmesan) – 807 mg
  • Chicken breast – 256 mg
  • Cocoa powder – 734 mg
  • Egg, poached – 197 mg
  • Flax seeds – 642 mg
  • Garlic 153 mg
  • Halibut – 287 mg
  • Hazelnuts – 290 mg
  • Kale – 92 mg
  • Lentils – 180 mg
  • Liver (beef) – 497 mg
  • Milk, whole – 84 mg
  • Mushrooms (shiitake, dried) – 294 mg
  • Mushrooms (white, cooked) – 105 mg
  • Oats – 410 mg
  • Parsley, freeze-dried – 548 mg
  • Peanuts (dry roasted) – 358 mg
  • Peanut butter – 369 mg
  • Peas – 82 mg
  • Pecan nuts – 293 mg
  • Pine nuts – 575 mg
  • Poppy seeds – 849 mg
  • Pork sirloin – 311 mg
  • Pumpkin/squash seeds – 1233 mg
  • Rice, brown – 333 mg
  • Salmon – 371 mg
  • Sardines (canned) – 490 mg
  • Sesame seeds – 638 mg
  • Soybeans – 649 mg
  • Tofu – 287 mg
  • Tomatoes (sun-dried) – 356 mg
  • Tortilla chips – 318 mg
  • Tuna steak, cooked – 333 mg
  • Turkey , roast – 230 mg
  • Yogurt, plain – 157 mg

As you can see there is a variety of foods high in phosphorus which you can combine in order to get your daily recommended intake of this essential mineral. However, please note that, although bran and germ (the components of whole grains) are very high in phosphorus, it is in a storage form called phytin which is not absorbed in the human body. Therefore bran and wheatgerm are not included in our chart.

Phosphorus Benefits

Why is phosphorus so important to good health?

There is a variety of reason to make sure you include foods high in phosphorus in your diet. In this section we will highlight exactly what these are. As you have seen from our foods high in phosphorus list, it isn’t difficult to get your daily recommended intake of this mineral, and the health benefits are well worth making the small effort.

  1. Phosphorus stimulates metabolism – and therefore helps the body to create energy.
  2. Hormone balance – phosphorus is vital for regulating the balance of hormones in the human body, particularly those required for reproductive health.
  3. Protein formation – Phosphorus is one of the most important elements in protein synthesis.
  4. Phosphorus helps our bodies utilise carbohydrates and fats.
  5. Bone formation – Phosphorus works in association with calcium to provide you with strong and healthy bones. Calcium actually needs phosphorus in order to be able to help your bones, therefore if you do not eat foods high in phosphorus then you may suffer similar side-effects as people with a calcium deficiency.
  6. Strong and healthy teeth  –In addition to helping bone formation, phosphorus and calcium work together in keeping teeth strong and healthy.
  7. Phosphorus helps your kidneys work effectively
  8. Phosphorus aids cell production and replication
  9. Digestion – phosphorus stimulates the digestion of the vitamins riboflavin and niacin in an efficient way.
  10. Brain function – proper levels of phosphorus aid in efficient brain function, as well as cognitive development in children. Phosphorus is vital in the absorption of vitamin B, which is very important to the human body.

Phosphorus Deficiency

As we have already mentioned, it is unusual to suffer from a phosphorus deficiency. However, a small number of individuals in particular fall into the ‘at risk’ category. These include:

  1. Alcoholics – alcohol can draw phosphorus supplies from the bones
  2. People taking salt substitutes – long term consumption of high levels of potassium may lower phosphorus levels
  3. Long distance athletes – may suffer from phosphorus deficiency. This is one of the many reasons electrolyte drinks are popular amongst athletes
  4. Certain drugs, including antacids, corticosteriods and NSAIDS may also lower phosphorus levels if taken over a long period of time. Speak to a healthcare practitioner if you are concerned about this.

FInally, we hope that you have found these phosphorus benefits useful. Remember that the average adult requires just 1000 mg of phosphorus each day, which can be obtained by eating the foods high in phosphorus that we have listed above.