Phosporous is regulated in the blood by the kidneys and it helps in maintaining the normal acid/base balance of the body. In kidney failure the phosphorous level goes up in the blood and the excess Phosphorous decreases the level of Calcium in the blood resulting in weak bones.
Why do we need Phosphorus?
Our bones are made up of calcium phosphate, so phosphorus is extremely important in supporting bone development and maintenance. In addition, phosphates have other functions as well:
• Phosphates are an integral component of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid), the nucleic acids that store genetic information.
• Phosphates carry the energy required for all cellular functions.
• Phosphates regulate the activity of enzymes and proteins.
• Phosphorus regulates pH levels in the body.
Fortunately, almost all foods contain phosphorus to a certain extent but protein foods in general have the highest levels of phosphorus.
Dietary phosphorus is absorbed in the small intestine and excess phosphorus is removed by the kidneys. Phosphorus along with calcium is regulated by the parathyroid hormone released by parathyroid glands. Vitamin D also plays a role in regulating calcium and phosphorus.
Your Daily Phosphorus Requirement
A healthy adult requires 700mg of phosphorus, irrespective of whether they are men or women. Here’s a table on daily phosphorus requirement for different stages of life.
|Age||Phosphorus requirement (mg/day)|
|Children 1-3 years||460|
|Children 4-8 years||500|
|Children 9-13 years||1,250|
|Adolescents 14-18 years||1,250|
|Adults 19 years and older||700|
Pregnant women and breast feeding mothers do not require extra phosphorus intake. Those with kidney disease may require less phosphorus and post-menopausal women may need more of phosphorus if they are taking calcium supplements.
All protein foods are rich in phosphorus or phosphates. But animal proteins have more bioavailable phosphorus than plant proteins.
Top Ten Phosphorus Rich Foods
Egg is a good source of phosphorus. However, different parts of the egg contain different amount of phosphorus. For example, a whole egg contains 6g of protein and 86mg of phosphorus, whereas egg white from one large egg contains 3.6 g protein and 5mg of phosphorus, indicating that the bulk of phosphorus in the egg is in the yolk.
2. Red meat
Red meat such as beef and veal is perhaps the most phosphorus-rich food. The ideal ratio of calcium to phosphorus is 1:1. Red meats have about 10 to 20 times more phosphorus than calcium. So consuming high amount of red meat may contribute to calcium-phosphorus imbalance and lead to hyperphosphatemia.
Poultry such as chicken and turkey contain less phosphorus than red meat and fatty fish. Sometimes, poultry products (meats too) come with phosphate additives which markedly increase the total phosphorus content. Unless you specifically need to consume more phosphorus, it is best you look for products that do not have phosphorus additives.
4. Fatty fish and shell fish
Shell fish such as clams and mollusks are good sources of phosphorus. For example, each 100 g of salmon contains 21g protein and 282mg phosphorus. Similarly, 100g of cooked scallops provide 426mg of phosphorus equivalent to 43 percent of the daily value (DV).
5. Milk and yogurt
Dairy foods have a more balanced calcium-phosphorus ratio and are thus good phosphorus-rich foods. A 150g serving of low fat plain yogurt provides 40 percent of our daily phosphorus requirement. Similarly, milk, a complete food in itself, is a balanced source of phosphorus. For example, a 200ml glass of milk provides more than half the daily phosphorus requirement of a 6-year-old child and about 36 percent of daily requirement of an adult.
Different types of cheese may contain a range from less than 100 mg to almost 1000 mg per serving of combined organic and inorganic phosphorus based on the type of the cheese and its method of processing. Hard cheese, ricotta or paneer, and cream cheese have higher phosphorus as compared to other cheeses. However, it is best to avoid processed cheese since it contains inorganic phosphorus that is absorbed by the human intestine in its entirety and may lead to excess accumulation of phosphorus in the body.
Yeast is very rich in phosphorus content. Although it is not something that you can use as food per se, breads made with yeast make the phosphorus more available to the body. Apart from phosphorus, yeast is also rich in B vitamins, chromium and several minerals and amino acids. In earlier days, brewer’s yeast was used by fitness enthusiasts in the preparation of energy protein drink.
8. Beans and lentils.
Although beans and lentils may contain greater amount of phosphorus as compared with say chicken or beef, animal proteins are considered the best sources of phosphorus. This is because animal protein foods have better availability for phosphorus considering the fact that 40 to 60 percent of phosphorus in animal foods is absorbed by the human body, whereas only 10 to 30 percent of phosphorus in plant foods are absorbed.
The amount of phosphorus in chocolate varies depending on the type of chocolate. 100g of dark chocolate provides 308mg of phosphorus and the same quantity of white chocolate provides 176mg of phosphorus. Milk chocolates too have a whopping amount of phosphorus as milk too is rich in phosphorus.
10. Carbonated cola drinks
Inorganic phosphorus present in processed foods such as carbonated drinks and processed cheese is 100 percent absorbed by the body. So you may need to be careful with carbonated drinks and processed foods so as not to exceed phosphorus and dis-balance the calcium – phosphorus ratio. And a high phosphorus-to-calcium ratio increases parathyroid hormone secretion which in turn triggers calcium loss. Diet sodas too are unhealthy since they are nothing but water, artificial sweeteners and chemicals such as phosphoric acid.
Sources of Dietary Phosphorus
|SOURCE||SERVING||AMOUNT OF PHOSPHORUS (in mg)|
|Skim milk||1 cup||249.47|
|Plain yogurt||1 container||229.5|
|Mozzarella cheese||1 cup shredded||396.48|
|Fatty fish||100 gm||200|
|Whole wheat bread||1 slice||38.25|
|Cooked lentils||100 gm||153|
|Carbonated cola drink||1 can||40.48|