Phosphorus: foods, benefits & RDA

Siski Green / 18 August 2021

Phosphorus, found in meat, eggs, seeds and pulses and enables the B vitamins to work properly.



Phosphorus is a mineral that your body needs quite a lot of, like calcium. It’s extremely important to your health.

What is phosphorus used for?

Like calcium, phosphorus is essential for strong and healthy bones and teeth. It’s also involved in other areas of your body such as nerve and muscle systems. And as if that weren’t enough it also helps maintain your metabolic process, helping you process fat, carbohydrates and protein into energy.

Most people find they get enough phosphorus from their diet, but if you take a lot of antacids containing aluminium regularly, it may deplete your body’s store of phosphorus. Not eating enough food (fasting or starving yourself) can also result in a deficiency but you won’t see any effects if you fast for a short while, for example. If you are anorexic, however, you may well become deficient.

Phosphorus (called phosphates in this case) is used to treat UTIs (urinary tract infections) and also to help prevent the build-up of calcium stones.

What’s the best way to take phosphorus?

The best sources are dietary, and it’s found in many foods – meat such as beef, pork, chicken, fish and especially liver, eggs, dairy products, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, and wholegrains such as wheat germ and bran. It’s also added to certain foods such as packaged cereals for example. Look for calcium phosphate, phosphoric acid and sodium acid pyrophosphate on the label – these are all forms of phosphorus.

If you are found to be deficient by your GP, a supplement is helpful. You need around 700mg per day to be healthy.

Does phosphorus really work?

Unless you are deficient in phosphorus taking a supplement or increasing your dosage via your diet is unlikely to have a dramatic effect.

Where can I get phosphorus?

As phosphorus is added to many foods and is contained in so many foods naturally, you likely don’t need a supplement. But to ensure you are getting enough eat meat, seeds, nuts and dairy. And, if unsure, take a supplement, which you can get at healthfood shops or online.

What are the side effects or contraindications of taking phosphorus?

If you have any form of kidney problems see your GP before taking phosphorus supplements as the kidneys have to work to control any excess. If you take too much phosphorus you might also suffer with diarrhoea or stomach cramps.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.