Phosphorous is the second-most abundant inorganic element in your body and is essential for human health. Phosphorus plays a critical role in many aspects of human health, from bone and teeth health to energy metabolism and cell function.
In this article, we’ll show you how to get the phosphorus you need using the tools and charts that our Optimisers use in the Micros Masterclass.
- Phosphorus Foods Chart
- Phosphorus Foods (Per Serving)
- Phosphorus Foods (Per Calorie)
- Phosphorus Recipes
- Why is Phosphorus Important?
- The Roles of Phosphorus in Your Body
- Symptoms of Inadequate or Excessive Phosphorus Intake
- Do You Need More Phosphorus in Your Diet?
- How Much Phosphorus Do You Need?
- Optimal Phosphorus Intake
- Phosphorus in the Food System
- Synergistic Nutrients That Work with Phosphorus
- Nutrient Density Starter Pack
- Nutrient Series
Phosphorus Foods Chart
Phosphorus and protein tend to go together. So, if you are getting adequate protein, you’ll likely also be getting plenty of phosphorus.
The chart below shows a range of popular foods in terms of phosphorus (per calorie) vs phosphorus (per serve). Foods towards the right will provide more phosphorus per calorie, while the foods towards the top will provide more phosphorus in the serving size we typically eat them.
For more detail, you can dive into the interactive Tableau version of this chart (on your computer), check out the food lists of popular foods below or download longer lists in our Optimising Nutrition Community here.
Phosphorus Foods (Per Serving)
The popular foods listed below will give you more phosphorus in the typical serving sizes we consume them in.
- chicken breast
- salmon (fresh)
- goat cheese
- pork chops
- chicken thigh
- ground beef
- chicken drumstick
- Swiss cheese
- gouda cheese
- Edam cheese
- mozzarella (part-skim)
Phosphorus Foods (Per Calorie)
While many vegetable sources of phosphorus exist, they are not particularly concentrated. Thus, it requires a large amount of these foods to get enough of this essential mineral.
The popular foods listed below provide more phosphorus with fewer calories.
- hemp seeds
- salmon (canned)
- broccoli seeds (sprouted)
- bok choy
- chicken liver
- Greek yogurt (non-fat)
- mustard greens
- coriander leaf
- pumpkin or squash seeds
For those on vegan and vegetarian diets, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds contain higher phosphorus than other plant foods like vegetables and fruits. However, these high amounts of phosphorus are often in the form of phytates that contribute to poor nutrient absorption.
It’s, therefore, essential to take proper precautions when eating these foods to lessen their phytate content so you get all the phosphorus you can. Soaking and sprouting have been shown to reduce phytate levels significantly.
The chart below shows our 1400+ NutriBooster recipes that we use in the Micros Masterclass plotted in terms of phosphorus vs protein %. Recipes towards the right will help you boost your phosphorus with fewer calories. Notice how phosphorus and protein % trend together!
To dive into the detail, you can open the interactive Tableau version of this chart (on your computer). Then, click on each recipe to learn more about it and view a picture of the recipe. Some examples of our NutriBooster recipes that contain the most phosphorus are shown below.
Why is Phosphorus Important?
Getting adequate phosphorus from your diet is important for a range of functions, including:
- Bone and teeth health: Phosphorus is a key component of bones and teeth. It helps to provide strength and structure to these tissues and also helps to regulate the balance of other minerals in the body, such as calcium.
- Energy metabolism: Phosphorus is necessary for the production and storage of energy in the body. It is a component of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the primary energy currency of the body.
- Cell function: Phosphorus is involved in many cellular processes, including the synthesis of DNA and RNA, cell signalling, and membrane transport.
- Kidney function: Phosphorus levels in the blood are regulated by the kidneys. Proper phosphorus balance is important for kidney function and overall health.
- Nervous system function: Phosphorus is involved in the functioning of the nervous system. It helps to regulate the electrical activity of nerve cells and is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters.
The Roles of Phosphorus in Your Body
You require dietary phosphorus to:
- keep your bones strong and healthy,
- help your cells produce and store energy,
- move your muscles,
- build strong teeth,
- enable your kidneys to filter waste,
- create DNA and RNA (the body’s genetic building blocks),
- utilise vitamins B and D and minerals like iodine, magnesium, and zinc,
- grow, maintain, and repair tissues and cells,
- maintain a regular heartbeat,
- facilitate nerve conduction,
- Allow your body to utilise carbohydrates and fats properly,
- create adenosine triphosphate (ATP),
- maintain the acid-base balance (pH) in your blood, and
- support muscle recovery after exercise.
Symptoms of Inadequate or Excessive Phosphorus Intake
High phosphate can result from deficiencies in other nutrients that work alongside phosphate, like calcium. Phosphorus levels that are too high (hyperphosphatemia) or too low (hypophosphatemia) can cause medical complications that result in well-known conditions like heart disease, joint pain, or fatigue.
Aside from the symptoms listed above, hyperphosphatemia can appear with:
- muscle cramps and spasms,
- mouth numbness and tingling,
- weak bones,
- itchy skin,
- water retention, and
- low energy.
Other symptoms of low phosphorus intake can include:
- muscle weakness,
- bone pain,
- increased susceptibility to infection,
- confusion, and
Low phosphorus can result from poor lifestyle and dietary habits that push someone to eat a low-protein, processed, carb-rich diet. Dysfunctions of the small intestine can also affect phosphorus absorption. For this reason, low phosphate is more common than high phosphate.
Do You Need More Phosphorus in Your Diet?
Because of the roles of phosphate in the body, you may require more phosphorus if you:
- drink a lot of coffee,
- have diabetes,
- are sensitive to gluten,
- consume excess calcium,
- abuse antacids,
- have poor digestion,
- are pregnant,
- consume minimal amounts of protein,
- consume a Standard American Diet (SAD),
- are lactating, or
- have renal tubular dysfunction.
How Much Phosphorus Do You Need?
Similar to protein, our satiety analysis shows a robust satiety response when people consume more phosphorus per calorie.
People who consume higher phosphorus tend to consume 29% fewer calories than those who consume less phosphorus. However, phosphorus is not typically a nutrient that people need to prioritise if they’re eating a nutrient-dense diet with adequate protein, as they will naturally obtain enough phosphorus.
The median intake across our Optimiser population is 1.5 g/2000 calories, and the 85th percentile is 2.3 g/day.
Optimiser intakes are significantly more than the Daily Recommended Intake of 1.0 g per day but well below the Upper Limit of 4.0 g/day from supplementation, which would be very hard to obtain from food alone.
Optimal Phosphorus Intake
Based on our satiety analysis, we’ve set an Optimal Nutrient Intake of 1.25 g/2000 calories for phosphorus. Once you start to get the hang of nutrient density, you could ‘level up’ by working to achieve these stretch targets to optimise your nutrition. For more details, see:
Phosphorus in the Food System
Since the introduction of synthetic fertilisers in the 1940s, the content of phosphorus in food has been on the decline, while obesity rates have steadily increased (data from USDA Economic Research Service). These fertilisers help crops grow more quickly, leading to fewer nutrients making their way into the crop. As a result, soils also become depleted for future harvests. We now have to consume an extra 21% more food to get the same amount of phosphorus that we did in the 1940s.
Synergistic Nutrients That Work with Phosphorus
While it’s essential to consider calcium when consuming phosphorus because they are synergists, this isn’t the only relationship important to phosphorus. Aside from calcium, phosphorus works synergically with vitamin B6, vitamin D, magnesium, and sodium. As a result, it is crucial to get your phosphorus from whole food sources that naturally come packaged with other necessary nutrients instead of relying on supplements.
Nutrient Density Starter Pack
We’re eager to make the process of Nutritional Optimisation as simple as possible. To help you increase your intake of all the essential nutrients, including phosphorus, when you join our free Optimising Nutrition Community, you’ll get a starter pack that includes:
When you join our free Optimising Nutrition Community, you’ll get a starter pack that includes:
- Food Lists – optimised for each essential nutrient, goals, preferences and conditions.
- The Healthiest Meal Plan in the World – see what a week of nutrient-dense eating looks like.
- Recipes – check out samples of each of our NutriBosoter recipe books.
- 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge – identify your priority nutrients and the foods and meals that contain them.
- Biotin (B7)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (B9)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K1
- Vitamin K2