Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body, after calcium. About 85% of phosphorus in the body exists in bone.


Phosphorus’ functions include:

  • Forming bones and teeth
  • Growing, maintaining, and repairing of cells and tissues
  • Synthesizing and activating proteins, such as enzymes and hormones
  • Maintaining acid-base balance
  • Producing, regulating, and transferring energy in the body
  • Converting carbohydrates, protein, and fat into energy
  • Being an important cell membrane component
  • Being important to hemoglobin’s oxygen delivery function
  • Recommended Intake

    Age Group Recommended Dietary Allowance
    0-6 monthsNo RDA; Adequate Intake (AI) = 100
    7-12 monthsNo RDA; AI = 275
    1-3 years460
    4-8 years500
    9-18 years1,250
    19 years and older700
    Pregnancy and lactation, 18 years and younger1,250
    Pregnancy and lactation, 19 years and older700

    Phosphorus Deficiency

    Phosphorus deficiency is called hypophosphatemia. Since phosphorus is present in such a large variety of foods, dietary phosphorus deficiency is rare.

    Symptoms of hypophosphatemia may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • General weakness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Prickling, tingling, or numbness of the skin in the arm, hands, legs, or feet
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Phosphorus Toxicity

    Phosphorus toxicity is rare in people with normal kidney function. However, those with kidney problems may experience hyperphosphatemia, or elevated levels of phosphorus in the blood. Hyperphosphatemia can result in decreased levels of calcium in the blood and overproduction of parathyroid hormone, which can lead to bone loss.

    The following table shows the upper intake levels for phosphorus. But, it's important to note that these levels are not created for people with kidney disease. If you have problems with your kidneys and are concerned about your phosphorus intake, talk to your doctor.

    Age Group Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)
    0-12 monthsThis amount has not been established.
    1-8 years3,000
    9-70 years4,000
    70 years and older3,000
    Pregnancy and lactation3,500 and 4,000

    Major Food Sources

    Are you looking to add more phosphorus to your diet? Here are some good food sources:

    FoodServing Size Phosphorus Content
    Skim milk8 ounces (227 grams)247
    Plain, nonfat yogurt8 ounces (227 grams)306
    Part-skim mozzarella cheese1 ounce (28 grams)131
    Egg 1 large86
    Beef3 ounces (85 grams)179
    Chicken 3 ounces (85 grams)135-196
    Turkey3 ounces (85 grams)217
    Fish (halibut)3 ounces (85 grams)244
    Fish (salmon)3 ounces (85 grams)315
    Almonds1 ounce (28 grams)136
    Peanuts1 ounce (28 grams)108
    Lentils4 ounces (113 grams)178