The Importance of Phosphorus and Risks with CKD

Updated 1/21/2022

Phosphorus is a very important element that all human bodies require to stay healthy.  However, when you have Chronic Kidney Disease, remember I am stage 3, actually hovering around stage 2 at the time of this revision, but there are 5 stages, the kidneys can not remove the excess Phosphorus that the body does not use.  That means the Phosphorus will build up in the blood, causing other ailments like joint and bone pain, an increase in fractures, and Osteoporosis, among others. The short video below explains Phosphorus and bones. But, Phosphorus is also very important for how our muscles get energy. For stage 3, no more than 800 mg of Phosphorus per day should be consumed according to sources, though some say 900 and others 700.   If your doctor or dietitian tells you that you need more or less, then you need to follow what they advise.  Never, assume what someone writes in a post is necessarily right for you.  Later stages of kidney disease may need to take Phosphate Binders to help control the level of Phosphorus in the blood.  There are some foods that are very high in Phosphorus, some should be completely avoided, while others offer other nutrition benefits.  I will list them below.  Please remember I don’t have HTN, Cardiac Disease, or Diabetes.  If you have any of those then your requirements may differ.  There are also foods, mostly prepackaged easily prepared, and often shelf-stable foods, that have Phosphorus added in, usually as a preservative, or filler.  You absolutely must learn to read the labels on food packages.  Anything containing the word PHOS in the ingredients means it has added Phosphorus in the foods.  Food companies are not required to tell the amount of Phosphorus in foods, so this can be very dangerous for kidney patients.   Low fat or no-fat foods also have added Phosphorus for flavoring and as a filler.  The only foods labeled low fat that I eat are part-skim cheeses, and I eat very little to no dairy on most days.  I will do another post on dairy products that are lower in Phosphorus and Sodium, next week.  Note that almost all foods have Phosphorus naturally in them, usually in trace amounts.  Plant-based foods, according to Science, absorbs Phosphorus at a much lesser level than animal products. So, even though beans, nuts, and seeds are high in Phosphorus, the body does not absorb it as well as say processed foods which is 100% absorbed by the body.

High Phosphorus Foods:

Dark sodas:  All of them should be avoided.  Sodas offer no nutritional value at all.  Clear sodas are OK, for Phosphorus but still have no nutritional value at all.

Eggs:  The egg yolk is where you will find the Phosphorus in an egg.  You could eat egg whites.  However, eggs are an extremely good source of good proteins, as well as other nutrients.  So eating a whole egg a couple times a week is not a bad thing.  I use the website Eat This Much to help me calculate the phosphorus per serving in foods.  Not all foods are listed, however.

Milk, Cheese, Yogurt:  These are very high sources of Phosphorus.  Like I said I eat little to no dairy products at all.  They do have other health benefits, especially if you eat Organic.  Apparently, Greek Yogurt can be OK, I just don’t like it.

Nuts/Seeds:  Macadamia nuts are the nuts with the lowest Phosphorus levels.  However, all nuts and seeds have other beneficial nutrients in them.  I eat a handful twice a week.  I have small hands, so a 1/4 cup is a better reference point.  This includes peanut butter.

Oats/Whole Wheat:  Most flours have a good amount of Phosphorus in them, but whole grain flours are higher.  Also, oats like Oatmeal also have high levels of Phosphorus.  I eat very little bread, I do eat whole grains when I do, though, because they offer more nutrients than bleached white bread, which I avoid.

Chocolate:  Bleh that stinks, right?  Dark chocolate is a much better choice, than milk chocolate, and believe it or not white chocolate is the best.

Creamed Soups:  For obvious reasons of the cream, but because they are canned you are getting even more.  You can opt to make your own which will save some.

Meat:  Beef and Fish are high, Chicken and Turkey are lower options.  I stick to serving sizes of meat, which is the palm of your hand, 3 oz, or a deck of cards.  Of course, meat has protein, and Iron both very important, so you do need to eat some.

Processed/Packaged Foods:  Learning to cook is the best way to avoid these products most of the time.  I like creamer in my coffee, so I am sure and add that to my daily count as it is high in Phosphorus also.

I use the website Eat This Much, where I can find the Phosphorus level for most foods.  Some name brands are not there, but you can compare them with generic brands listed.  I also have an app on my phone, but it is not user-friendly at all and takes a ton of time to find the proper food.  I use it only when I have to.

If you would like to learn how to find the amount of Phosphorus in the foods you are eating, use the contact button to send me an email.

The National Kidney Foundation and Davita have great articles on controlling your Phosphorus levels, and I used them as a resource when learning about this when I was newly diagnosed.

Disclaimer

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My name is Melissa. I am a certified Health Coach, Holistic Coach, Kidney Coach, LPN, can coach in Herbalism, Aromatherapy, Guided Imagery, am level 2 Reiki certified, and I want to be your Health and Wellness Coach. I am continually learning and taking classes to expand my knowledge base.

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