This mineral is needed for maintaining strong bones and teeth; extracting energy from food; and forming enzymes, cell membranes, and genetic material. It also helps the body maintain a proper pH (level of acidity).


Rich sources of phosphorus are soft drinks, milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, meat, poultry, eggs, grains, dried peas and beans, and some cereals and breads.


A shortage of phosphorus will eventually cause weakness, malaise, loss of appetite, and pain in the bones.


A surfeit of phosphorus can lead to hyperphosphatemia, which can have serious health consequences. Among these are skeletal porosity and calcium deposits in soft tissues, especially the lungs, stomach, and kidneys.


Your Daily Allowance


Diet Power sets your Personal Daily Allowance (PDA) of phosphorus at the Food and Nutrition Board's Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), measured in milligrams: 1250 for people aged 14 to 18, 700 for everyone over 18. The same figures apply for women 50 or younger who are pregnant or nursing. (In the rare event that you're over 50 and pregnant or nursing, Diet Power will assign you the 50-and-younger PDA for that reproductive state.)


Upper Limit


The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of phosphorus is 4000 milligrams per day for children and adults aged 14 through 70. For people over 70 it drops to 3000 milligrams. For women who are pregnant, it's 3500 milligrams; for those who are lactating, 4000 milligrams. Getting more than the UL may harm your health.


The FNB notes, however, that "athletes and others with high energy expenditure frequently consume amounts from food greater than the UL without apparent effect."


Revising Your Allowance


If your doctor recommends a different PDA, you can change it with the Personal Daily Allowance Editor.


Color Coding of This Nutrient


The phosphorus bar in your personal Nutrient History is:

In the nutrient profile of a food or recipe, the phosphorus bar is:

How Complete Are Diet Power's Phosphorus Readings?


For the 8500 generic items in the Food Dictionary: very complete. Only 0.4 percent list their phosphorus content as "unknown."


For the 2500 chain-restaurant items: totally incomplete. All list phosphorus as "unknown."


For all 11,000 items combined: not terribly complete. About 23 percent list phosphorus as "unknown."


These figures mean that if you frequently log chain-restaurant foods (or user-added foods with missing phosphorus readings), your Nutrient History may underreport your intake of phosphorus by a few points.


To see whether a particular food has a phosphorus reading, open the Food Dictionary and check the food's nutrient profile. If you find a question mark beside "Phosphorus," it means the amount is unknown. (To see all foods with unknown phosphorus readings, click the dictionary's PowerFoods tab and sort the foods by phosphorus power; then scroll toward the bottom of the list until you see foods with question marks in the "Power Rating" column.)


Phosphorus on Food Labels


Food labels are not required to list phosphorus, although some do. They may cite the content in grams, milligrams, or percent of Daily Value.


The Daily Value for phosphorus is 1.0 gram, or 1000 milligrams. This amount is not necessarily right for you, howeverit's a rough estimate meant to accommodate most of the U.S. population.


For more on label regulations, see Labels, Food.



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Last Modified: 7/27/07