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Functions | Recommended Intake | Phosphorus Deficiency | Phosphorus Toxicity | Major Food Sources

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body, after calcium. About 85% of phosphorus in the body exists in bone.


Phosphorus’ functions include:

  • Forming bones and teeth
  • Growing, maintaining, and repairing of cells and tissues
  • Synthesizing and activating proteins, such as enzymes and hormones
  • Maintaining acid-base balance
  • Producing, regulating, and transferring energy in the body
  • Converting carbohydrates, protein, and fat into energy
  • Important cell membrane component
  • Important in hemoglobin’s oxygen delivery function

Recommended Intake

Age Group Recommended Dietary Allowance
0-6 monthsNo RDA; Adequate Intake (AI) = 100
7-12 monthsNo RDA; AI = 275
1-3 years460
4-8 years500
9-18 years1,250
19 years and older700
Pregnancy and lactation, 18 years and younger1,250
Pregnancy and lactation, 19 years and older700

Phosphorus Deficiency

Phosphorus deficiency is called hypophosphatemia. Since phosphorus is present in such a large variety of foods, dietary phosphorus deficiency is rare.

Symptoms of hypophosphatemia may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Anemia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Rickets and osteomalacia, which is a softening of the bones
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Prickling, tingling, or creeping of the skin in the arm, hands, legs, or feet
  • Loss of muscular coordination

Phosphorus Toxicity

Phosphorus toxicity is rare in people with normal kidney function. However, those with kidney problems may experience hyperphosphatemia, or elevated levels of phosphorus in the blood. Hyperphosphatemia can result in decreased levels of calcium in the blood and overproduction of parathyroid hormone, which can lead to bone loss.

The following table shows the upper intake levels for phosphorus. But, it's important to note that these levels are not created for people with kidney disease. If you have problems with your kidneys and are concerned about your phosphorus intake, talk to your doctor.

Age Group Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)
0-12 monthsThis amount has not been established.
1-8 years3,000
9-70 years4,000
70 years and older3,000
Pregnancy and lactation3,500 and 4,000

Major Food Sources

Are you looking to add more phosphorus to your diet? Here are some good food sources:

FoodServing Size Phosphorus Content
Skim milk8 ounces (227 grams)247
Plain, nonfat yogurt8 ounces (227 grams)385
Part-skim mozzarella cheese1 ounce (28 grams)131
Egg 1 large104
Beef3 ounces (85 grams)173
Chicken 3 ounces (85 grams)155
Turkey3 ounces (85 grams)173
Fish (halibut)3 ounces (85 grams)242
Fish (salmon)3 ounces (85 grams)252
Almonds1 ounce (28 grams)134
Peanuts1 ounce (28 grams)107
Lentils4 ounces (113 grams)178

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


United States Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate



Dietitians of Canada



Block GA, Port FK. Re-evaluation of risks associated with hyperphosphatemia and hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients: Recommendations for a change in management. Am J Kidney Dis. 2000;3596:1226-1237.

Cannata-Andia JB, Rodriguez-Garcia M. Hyperphosphataemia as a cardiovascular risk factor-how to manage the problem. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2002; 11:16-19.

Phosphorus. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute website. Available at: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/phosphorus. Updated August 2007. Accessed April 5, 2013.

Phosphorus. Vita Guide website. Available at: http://www.vitaguide.org/phosphorus.html. Accessed April 5, 2013.

Last reviewed April 2013 by Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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