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Food & Snack Sources of Phosphorus

Phosphorus is one of the critical nutrients we need for healthy functioning. Although best known for its role in bone health, phosphorus is used throughout the body for a variety of physiological reactions. Learning about foods that are high in phosphorus can help you ensure that you meet your recommended daily targets.

What Is Phosphorus?

Phosphorus is one of our chemical elements. Because it is so unstable when in its isolated state, phosphorus is almost always found in a compound with other elements. Compounds containing this element are found in rocks, used as fertilizer, and make up common detergents. However, they are also critical to physiological well being.

Physiological Role of Phosphorus

Phosphorus is found in every cell in the human body. In fact, phosphorus forms a critical portion of the phospholipid bilayer that composes the cellular membrane in all of our cells (Calvo, 2014). Phosphorus is also an essential component of DNA and RNA, the nucleic acids that encode genetic information and produce new proteins. This element also helps to maintain acid-base balance in the blood, promotes enzymatic reactions, and activates certain hormones (Calvo, 2014).

Phosphorus is also very important for the health of your bones. Calcium and phosphorus are the two most prevalent minerals that contribute to bone structure and strength. Getting enough phosphorus in your diet ensures that chondrocytes, the cells that promote bone growth at the ends of your bone plates, remain healthy (Penido & Alon, 2012). This causes bones to elongate and grow, which is particularly critical during childhood development. Failing to get enough phosphorus during this critical period may cause rickets or delayed growth (Penido & Alon, 2012).

Recommended Daily Intake of Phosphorus

The recommended dietary allowance of phosphorus is the amount you need to eat to keep your blood levels of phosphorus within healthy limits. Adult men and women need 700 mg of phosphorus per day (Calvo, 2014). Because they are continuing to grow, adolescents need slightly more, at 1,250 mg daily.

Foods that Are High in Phosphorus

The following foods are good sources of phosphorus (Calvo, 2014):

  • Salmon (3 ounce serving): 315 mg
  • Milk (skim; 1 cup): 247 mg
  • Plain yogurt (1 cup): 306 mg
  • Turkey (3 ounces): 217 mg
  • Halibut (3 ounces): 244 mg
  • Lentils (½ cup): 178 mg
  • Almonds (1 ounce; approximately 23 nuts): 136 mg
  • Chicken (3 ounces): 135 mg
  • Beef (3 ounces): 179 mg
  • Peanuts (1 ounce): 108 mg
  • Bread, whole-wheat (1 slice): 68 mg
  • Egg: 86 mg

Signs and Symptoms of Phosphorus Deficiency

Phosphorus deficiency may cause loss of appetite, muscle weakness, bone pain, anemia, increased risk of infection, difficulty walking, and numbness or tingling in your extremities (Calvo, 2014). It may also cause malformation of the bones, manifesting as rickets in children or osteomalacia (softening of the bones) in adults. Because phosphorus is relatively widespread in common foods, phosphorus deficiency is rare. However, alcoholics, diabetics who have experienced ketoacidosis, and people with digestive absorption problems such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may be at increased risk of this condition.

How to Ensure You Get Enough Phosphorus in Your Everyday Diet

Not all foods that contain phosphorus are created equal. The bioavailability of phosphorus, meaning the amount that your body can actually put to use, may vary widely between foods. For instance, the form of phosphorus found most often in plants such as nuts or seeds is known as phytic acid (Calvo, 2014). Because humans do not have the enzymes required to free the phosphorus from phytic acid, we can get only about 50% of the available phosphorus from these foods (Calvo, 2014). It is particularly important for vegetarians to be aware of the bioavailability of different sources of phosphorus, as they cannot eat the meat products that are rich sources of highly bioavailable phosphorus. Eating whole grain products with yeast, such as whole-wheat bread, can help your body break down phytic acid more easily.

Of course, a diet high in phosphorus is not appropriate for everyone. For instance, people with chronic kidney disease should be careful to monitor their phosphorus intake. This is because when the kidneys are not working properly, they may not be able to filter excess phosphorus from your blood (Majorowicz, 2016). This causes phosphorus to build up to dangerous levels, contributing to bone disease and heart conditions.

In general, Americans do a pretty good job of getting the phosphorus they need. Because phosphorus is present in cola soft drinks and common food additives, many people actually get their recommended dietary allowance of phosphorus through these processed foods. However, it is healthier to get your daily phosphorus from whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.

Recipes with Phosphorus

The following recipes offer a source of phosphorus to help you meet your dietary needs. Find recipes for any occasion, each with a delicious flavor that is sure to please your palate!

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

Pumpkin puree seasoned with pumpkin spice creates the perfect flavor base for this indelibly delicious treat. Sliced almonds add phosphorus to this easy breakfast recipe to get you started on the right foot.
Ingredients: Milk, pumpkin puree, chia seeds, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, fresh blueberries.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 servings

No-Bake Granola Bars {gluten-free, vegan}

No-Bake Granola Bars Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

These nutritious treats are packed with nuts, seeds and fruit to offer a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Their inclusion of peanut butter and pepitas ensure each bar offers a source of phosphorus.
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, peanut butter, dried tart cherries, pistachios, flaxseed meal, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, agave syrup. unsweetened applesauce, melted cacao nibs or dark chocolate.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 8 - 10 servings

Almond Butter

Almond Butter Recipe

Adding almonds to your diet is made even easier with this scrumptious spreadable butter. Enjoy the benefits of almonds and the phosphorus they contain with these easy, creamy blend of the nuts that can be added to fruits, veggies, sandwiches and more.
Ingredients: Almonds, coconut oil, maple syrup, salt
Total Time: 45 minutes | Yield: 2 cups

Kale Quinoa Salad

Kale Quinoa Salad Recipe

Enjoy the benefits of a hearty gluten-free grain in your salad with this superfood blend of kale and quinoa. Pairing the dish with an egg provides all sorts of additional nutrients, including phosphorus.
Ingredients: Quinoa, fresh baby kale, purple cabbage, carrots, fresh dill, boiled eggs, rice wine, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper.
Total Time: 25 minutes | Yield: 8 servings

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers {gluten-free}

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Recipe {gluten-free}

Pack your plate with this palatable source of phosphorus and enjoy the blend of lentils, quinoa and feta cheese that fill these perfect peppers. Full of essential nutrients, this recipe is ideal for making a delicious healthsome dinner.
Ingredients: Quinoa, green bell peppers, canned lentils, fresh spinach, feta cheese, frozen corn (thawed), salt, black pepper.
Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 6 servings (8 half-peppers)

Cranberry Almond Flour Cookies {gluten-free}

Cranberry Almond Flour Cookies Recipe {gluten-free}

Satisfy your sweet tooth and your nutritional needs with these crumbly cookies. Using almond flour as a substitute for traditional flours adds the nutritious nut to your cookie to supply a source of phosphorus while you snack!
Ingredients: Brown rice flour, almond flour, rolled-oats, dried cranberries, egg, coconut oil, sugar, vanilla extract, baking soda.
Total Time: 25 minutes | Yield: 20-22 cookies

Snack Sources of Phosphorus

Enjoying snacks throughout the day doesn’t need to be a source of grief. Select nutritious snacks that supply the vitamins and minerals you need with these delectable sources of phosphorus.


Calvo, M.S. (2014). Phosphorus. Linus Pauling Institute. Retrieved from

Majorowicz, R. (2016). Low-phosphorus diet: best for kidney disease? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from

Penido, M.G.M.G. & Alon, U.S. (2012). Phosphate hemostasis and its role in bone health. Pediatric Nephrology, 27(11), 2039-2048.

The George Mateljan Foundation. (n.d.). Pumpkin seeds. Retrieved from