Phosphorous is the second most plentiful mineral in our bodies. The average adult has approximately 750 grams of the mineral in their body. But what exactly does this mineral do to keep us healthy? 

It turns out, quite a lot. 

Role of Phosphorus in the Body

Our bodies use phosphorous for many functions, from moving enzymes around the body and producing energy to regulating our blood pH and controlling gene transcription. The majority of phosphorus in our bodies can be found in bones and teeth, while smaller amounts are found in cell membranes as well as in our DNA and RNA. 

How Much Phosphorus Do I Need?

Our bodies need different amounts of pathogenic acid depending on our age. Health Canada recommends healthy people over the ages of 9 and 18 years old consume 1,250 milligrams of phosphorus each day, while adults over the age of 18 consume 700 milligrams daily. You can find a complete list of adequate intakes on Health Canada’s website.

Am I At Risk of Deficiency?

We can find phosphorous in many foods, which means deficiency is quite rare. However, some populations have a higher risk of deficiency than others. These populations include,

    • Premature newborns
    • People with severe malnutrition
    • People with genetic phosphate regulation disorders

Some common signs and symptoms of deficiency include, 

    • No appetite
    • Muscle weakness
    • Confusion
    • Burning feeling in the skin

Can I Have Too Much Phosphorus?

Although we do not often experience signs and symptoms from consuming too much phosphorous, it can negatively impact our health. You can learn more about the tolerable upper limits on phosphorous from Health Canada’s website

People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or heart disease may need to limit the amount of phosphorous in their diet. You can chat with your dietitian to learn more about the recommended intake for these conditions. 

Where Can I Find Phosphorus?

As I mentioned earlier, you can find phosphorous in a wide range of food products. Some phosphorus-rich foods include, 

    • Yogurt
    • Milk
    • Atlantic salmon
    • Mozerella cheese
    • Lentils
    • Cashews
    • Potatoes
    • Kidney beans
    • Brown rice
    • Whole wheat bread
    • Tomatoes

Phosphorous is also added to many foods to extend their shelf-life. You can find phosphorous additives in the ingredients list. These additives can account for 300 to 1,000 milligrams of our daily intakes of the mineral. 

Bowl of cashews. Cashews are a great source of phosphorus

Dietary Supplements

You can also find phosphorous in multivitamins and individual supplements. Phosphorous found in supplements is usually in the form of salts (for example, dipotassium phosphate). Additionally, most supplements provide us with less than 10% of the daily value of the mineral. 

Interaction with Other Medications

Like many other vitamins and minerals, phosphorous can interact with some common medications. This includes medications such as antacids and laxatives. You should chat with your doctor or registered dietitian before beginning any new supplements to prevent any unwanted side effects. 

Check out the Micronutrient Monday series to learn more about the role of vitamins and minerals in supporting our health, what happens if we do not consume enough and where to find them in foods!

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Dietary Reference Intakes. (n.d.). Government of Canada. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from

Higdon, J. (2014). Phosphorus | Linus Pauling Institute | Oregon State University. Linus Pauling Institute.

Phosphorus. (n.d.). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from