What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus is a mineral found in your bones. Along with calcium, phosphorus is needed for building healthy strong bones, as well as keeping other parts of your body healthy.

Why is phosphorus important to you?

Normal working kidneys can remove extra phosphorus in your blood. When you have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) your kidneys cannot remove phosphorus very well. High phosphorus levels can cause damage to your body. Extra phosphorus causes body changes that pull calcium out of your bones, making them weak. High phosphorus and calcium levels also lead to dangerous calcium deposits in blood vessels, lungs, eyes, and heart. Phosphorus and calcium control is very important for your overall health.

What is a safe blood level of phosphorus?

A normal phosphorus level is 2.5 to 4.5 mg/dL. Ask your doctor or dietitian what your last phosphorus level was and write it
here ________________________ .

Will dialysis help with phosphorus control?

Yes. Dialysis can remove some phosphorus from your blood. It is important for you to understand how to limit build up of phosphorus between your dialysis treatments.

How can I control my phosphorus level?

You can keep you phosphorus level normal by understanding your diet and medications for phosphorus control. Your dietitian and doctor will help you with this. Below is a list of foods high in phosphorus.


 chocolate drinkscocoa
 drinks made with milk
canned iced teas
dark colas
Dairy Productscheesecottage cheese
 custardice cream
 cream soupsyogurt
 beef liverchicken liver
 fish roeorgan meats
Vegetablesdried beans and peas: 
        baked beansblack beans
        chick peasgarbanzo beans
        kidney beanslentils
        limasnorthern beans
        pork ’ n beanssplit peas
        soy beans 
Other foodsbran cerealsbrewer’s yeast
 seedswheat germ
 whole grain products 

What are medications for phosphorus control?

Your doctor may order a medicine called a phosphate binder for you to take with meals and snacks. This medicine will help control the amount of phosphorus your body absorbs from the foods you eat. There are many different kinds of phosphate binders. Pills, chewable tablets, and powders are available. Some types also contain calcium, while others do not. You should only take the phosphate binder that is ordered by your doctor or dietitian.

Write your phosphate binder here: ________________________ .

Directions: ________________________ .

What do I do if my phosphorus level is too high?

When your phosphorus level is too high, think about your diet and substitute lower phosphorus foods for a while. Talk to your dietitian and doctor about making changes in your diet and ask about your phosphate binder prescription.

Phosphorus (mg)   Phosphorus (mg)
8 ounce milk230 8 ounce nondairy creamer or
4 ounce milk
8 ounce cream soup made with milk
 8 ounce cream soup made with water90
1 ounce hard cheese145 1 ounce cream cheese30
½ cup ice cream80 ½ cup sherbet or 1 popsicle0
12-ounce can cola55 12 ounce can of Ginger Ale or lemon soda3
½ cup lima or pinto beans100 ½ cup mixed vegetables or green beans35
½ cup custard or pudding made with milk150 ½ cup pudding or custard made with nondairy creamer50
2 ounce peanuts200 1 ½ cup light salt/low fat popcorn35
1 ½ ounce chocolate bar125 1 ½ ounce hard candy, fruit flavors or jelly beans3
2/3 cup oatmeal130 2/3 cup cream of wheat or grits40
½ cup bran cereal140-260 ½ cup nonbran cereal, shredded wheat, rice cereals, or corn flakes50-100

More than 20 million Americans—one in nine adults—have chronic kidney disease and most don't even know it. More than 20 million others are at increased risk. The National Kidney Foundation, a major voluntary health organization, seeks to prevent kidney and urinary tract diseases, improve the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increase the availability of all organs for transplantation. Through its 50 affiliates nationwide, the foundation conducts programs in research, professional education, patient and community services, public education and organ donation. The work of the National Kidney Foundation is funded by public donations.

The National Kidney Foundation would like to thank the
Council on Renal Nutrition for the development of this fact sheet.

If you would like more information, please contact us.

© 2014 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.