Phosphorus and Kidney Disease

If you have kidney disease, you may have heard at some point that it’s important to reduce the intake of foods that are high in phosphorus like meat, beans, nuts, dairy, and whole grains.

That’s a lot of food to worry about!

Well, I would like to give you a little bit more information about what exactly you should be looking for in the foods you are buying! 

Phosphorus and your body

First off, let’s talk about the role of phosphorus in your body.

Phosphorus is:

  • a major component of our bones and teeth
  • vital for the production and storage of energy in our bodies
  • a component of fat, protein, and cell membranes (the outer layer that protects the cell).

The kidney is responsible for removing extra phosphorus from the blood, so if you have kidneys that are working well, you do not need to worry so much about phosphorus building up.

However, in kidney disease, the kidneys are not able to filter out phosphorus if the levels become too high.

Effects of high phosphorus include:

  • Bone and heart problems
  • Low blood calcium (interacts with calcium absorption), so calcium is taken from the bones
  • Calcification (hardening of tissues), which happens when calcium and phosphorus buildup in soft tissues, like arteries 


How can you maintain normal phosphorous levels?

You may be wondering how you can maintain a normal range of phosphorus in your blood.

Nutrition and eating will play a huge role in this

One step you can take to manage your levels is to look out for additives in food.  New research is saying that avoiding food with additives is more important than avoiding foods with natural sources. Natural (or organic) phosphorus is absorbed at a much lower level than phosphorus additives. 

Read the Nutrition Facts Label

To avoid these additives, you will need to start reading ingredient lists on the nutrition facts label! Below is a list of some (not all!) common terms that mean there is phosphorus adding to the food:

  • Phosphoric acid
  • Sodium polyphosphate
  • Mono-, di- or tricalcium phosphate
  • Ferric phosphate
  • Sodium tripolyphosphate

Nutrition Facts Taste the Sweet Rebellion

Some brands you might want to look for that are phosphate free are…

  • Bread: Ezekiel bread, Arnold Whole Wheat Bread, Rudi’s gluten free, Manna’s Organic bread
  • Hot dogs: Applegate farms organic hot dogs, Hebrew National
  • Tuna fish: Chicken of the Sea, Starkist
  • Rice: Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice, Minute-Whole Grain Medley and Multi-grain Medley
ezekiel bread

Interested in more information about nutrition and kidney disease? Check out these blogs!

Eating with Potassium Restrictions and Kidney Health

Low Protein Diet and CKD

6 Salt Free Seasonings that you can Make at Home

Your dietitian can help you navigate the grocery store and the nutrition label. She can also discuss with you a nutrition plan to assure you are getting the right amount of each nutrient. She will be sure to create an individualized plan to support your lifestyle. Call our office today at 301-474-2499 or click here to set up an appointment.


An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.