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Phosphorus and Kidney Disease

Anna Sramek, RD
November 22, 2022
July 11, 2023

We need different kinds of minerals in our diet to make sure we are our healthiest selves. Phosphorus is a mineral that is the building block of our body. But what if we have chronic kidney disease (CKD)? Keep reading to find out why phosphorus is important, why we need to monitor our intake of it, and what foods are rich in phosphorus.

Why is Monitoring Phosphorus Important?

Phosphorus is a mineral that helps make up our bones, teeth, and DNA. It is also important for activating enzymes for functions in our body. When we have CKD, our body has trouble removing extra phosphorus. Too much phosphorus in our body can cause problems like joint pain, loss of calcium, weakened bones, or heart disease. 

The best way to manage your phosphorus levels and to protect your kidneys is to follow a low-phosphorus diet, when prescribed by your doctor. . Below is a list of foods and ingredients that can cause high phosphorus levels when we have CKD. 

How to Monitor Phosphorus Intake

1. Check food labels for phosphorus additives

Phosphorus is a common food additive in packaged foods for preservation and flavor. When looking at the food label, avoid foods that contain additives with the word “phos” in them. This includes ingredients such as:

  • Calcium phosphate
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Monopotassium phosphate
  • Sodium acid pyrophosphate
  • Sodium tripolyphosphate       

Foods that commonly contain these ingredients include sodas, processed cheese, and frozen meals. 

2. Limit Intake of other high phosphorus foods:

  • Fast food and food from convenience stores
  • Cow’s milk: cheese, yogurt, milk, creamers, processed cheese
  • Soy milk
  • Processed meat: deli meat, chicken nuggets, hot dogs
  • Chocolate
  • Bottled drinks: colas, tea, beer, wine

Since our kidneys are constantly filtering blood, their functional ability can change based on our stress levels, eating patterns of that week, or even glucose or blood pressure trends. Each blood test might reveal reveal different phosphorous needs. You may need to restrict phosphorous for this month, but not 3 months later. Always talk to your doctor if you are concerned that you may need to limit phosphorous. 


Phosphorus is an important mineral that serves as a building block for our bodies. When we have CKD, watching our phosphorus intake to keep our values normal will help keep ourselves and our kidneys healthy in the long run. The most common sources of phosphorus in our diets are additives, processed foods, chocolate, dairy, and colas. Need help planning your low-phosphorus diet? Reach out to your dietitian, they would be happy to help!       

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