Phosphorus Foods: A Practical Guide

What does phosphorus do in your body?  

Phosphorous is the second-most abundant inorganic element in the human body.  

You require phosphorus in your diet to:

Symptoms of low or excessive phosphorus intake 

Phosphorus levels that are too high or too low can cause medical complications, such as heart disease, joint pain or fatigue.  

Other symptoms of low phosphorus intake can include:

Do you need more phosphorus in your diet?

You may require more phosphorus if you: 

How much phosphorus do you need?

Our satiety analysis shows a powerful satiety response when people consume food that contains higher levels of phosphorus.  People who consume more phosphorus tend to consume up to 45% fewer calories overall than those who consume the least phosphorus.

The average phosphorus intake of Optimisers is 1.3 g per 2000 calories, with an 85th percentile of 2.0 g/day.  This is significantly more than the Estimated Average Requirement of 0.58 g per day and the Daily Recommended Intake of 1.0 g per day.  The Upper Limit of 4.0 g/day would be very hard to obtain from food.

Availability of phosphorus

Phosphorus has been on the decline in the food system since the 1940s when synthetic fertilisers became more widely used help crops grow more quickly (data from USDA Economic Research Service).

Calcium : phosphorus ratio

While it’s essential to get plenty of phosphorus, we need more calcium than phosphorus.  

Higher calcium:phosphorus ratios tend to be associated with a reduced risk of obesity.  A calcium:phosphorus ratio of greater than 1:1.3 is said to be optimal.  

Nutrient Optimiser helps you manage your calcium:phosphorus ratio by ensuring you do not prioritise foods and meals that contain more phosphorus if your calcium levels are low.   

Optimal phosphorus intake 

While we tend to have a strong satiety response to phosphorus in our diet, pushing phosphorus too high can easily lead to an imbalanced calcium:phosphorus ratio.  Hence, our stretch target is limited to 1.5 g/day for men and 1.2 g/day for women. 

nutrient averageEAR RDIULstretch (men)stretch (women)
phosphorus (mg)1.30.580.741.51.2

Synergistic nutrients that work with phosphorus 

Phosphorus works synergically with vitamin B6, vitamin D D, calcium, magnesium and sodium.  Hence, it is important to get your phosphorus from whole food sources that typically come packaged with these other nutrients rather than relying on supplements.  

Phosphorus rich food sources 

Foods that contain more phosphorus include:


  • asparagus 
  • zucchini
  • broccoli  
  • kale  
  • lettuce
  • cauliflower 
  • parsley


  • liver
  • milk 
  • cottage cheese  


  • shrimp
  • salmon


  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • almonds
  • peanuts  

Nutrient profile 

The nutrient fingerprint below shows the availability of nutrients in the foods that contain the most phosphorus.  Phosphorous is one of the harder nutrients to get in adequate quantities. Foods with plenty of phosphorus tend to have more protein and plenty of other essential nutrients.  

Nutritious meals to boost your phosphorus

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of low phosphorus intake or are concerned that your current phosphorus intake is low then you may be interested in our lists of phosphorus-rich foods and meals. 

What you will get:

  • A list of the most popular 50 foods that contain more phosphorus.
  • A list of 100 popular foods that contain phosphorus, 
  • An even longer list of 150 common foods that contain more phosphorus to allow you to expand your nutrient-dense repertoire further, and 
  • An index of 150 nutrient-dense recipes that contain more phosphorus.  

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