Phosphorus Requirements and Dietary Sources

Foods rich in protein
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Phosphorus is a major mineral that you need to get from the foods you eat. Most of the phosphorus in your body is stored in your bones and smaller amounts are found in your teeth, DNA, and in cell membranes throughout your body.

Phosphorus is necessary for many biochemical reactions to take place, such as converting the foods you eat into energy. It's also essential for normal muscle contraction, nerve conduction, and healthy kidney function, plus it helps build strong bones.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division has determined the dietary reference intakes (DRI) for phosphorus. It's based on the daily nutritional needs of an average healthy person and differs by age.​

Dietary Reference Intakes

1 to 3 years: 460 milligrams per day
4 to 8 years: 500 milligrams per day
9 to 18 years: 1,250 milligrams per day
19+ years: 700 milligrams per day
Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 700 milligrams per day

Dietary sources of phosphorus include foods that are also high in protein such as meat, nuts, seeds, legumes and dairy products, and to a lesser extent, in fruits and vegetables. Whole grains also contain phosphorus, but it's in a form that's difficult for the body to digest. 

Since phosphorus is found in so many foods, a phosphorus deficiency does not occur under normal circumstances. However, low blood levels can occur with the use of certain medications, calcium carbonate supplements, or some antacids. If this is a concern, you should speak with your healthcare provider. A phosphorus deficiency may cause a loss of appetite, anemia, muscle pain and weakness and can lead to osteoporosis. 

Phosphorus toxicity is also rare, but people who have severe kidney disease or major problems with calcium regulation may develop high levels of phosphorus in their blood.

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