Nutrition Basics: What Is Phosphorus?

Phosphorus is a mineral found in many foods. One important function it performs in your body is working with calcium to build strong, healthy bones. When you have kidney disease, it's harder for your kidneys to remove extra phosphorus, causing a harmful buildup. Following your prescribed dialysis meal plan can help you maintain a healthy level of phosphorus and feel your best.

How much phosphorus do I need? 

The amount of phosphorus in your body will be measured through regular labs. A target phosphorus level for people on dialysis is 3.0-5.5 mg/dL.

What if my phosphorus level is too high or too low?

If your phosphorus level is too high in your lab results, work with your dietitian. He or she will talk to you about limiting processed foods, taking your phosphate binders and completing all dialysis treatments exactly as prescribed for the full treatment time.

If your phosphorus level is too low, your dietitian can work with you to make sure you’re getting enough protein and calories in your diet.

WHAT TO REMEMBER:

Avoid added phosphorus (PHOS).
Phosphoric acid, sodium phosphate, polyphosphate, monocalcium phosphate, hexametaphosphate

LEARNING TO SPOT THE PHOS

Your healthiest choices will be foods with no added phosphorus (PHOS). When reading food labels, look for any ingredient with the letters "PHOS"—and avoid it.

What are phosphorus binders and why do I need them?

Phosphorus binders (sometimes called phosphate binders) are a type of medication that helps prevent your body from absorbing phosphorus from the food you eat. Dialysis only removes a small amount of phosphorus from your blood. Taking phosphorus binders at every meal can help manage your phosphorus level. Your doctor or dietitian can help you understand exactly how many to take and when to take them.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR PHOSPHORUS BINDERS?

The renal pharmacists at FreseniusRx can help you understand and manage all of your prescribed medications, including phosphorus binders.

Learn More

What is phosphate? Is it the same thing as phosphorus?

While phosphorus occurs naturally in many foods, phosphates are chemicals added to foods to alter taste, texture or shelf life. Basically any "PHOS" word in an ingredient list means that phosphorus is being added to your food—and it all has the same unhealthy effect on your body.

Suggested topics


Nutrition Basics: What is Albumin?

Albumin is a type of protein made by your liver that helps keep fluid in your blood stream and helps carry vitamins and nutrients...

Read More

Nutrition Basics: What is Potassium?

Potassium is an important mineral found naturally in many foods. What does potassium do for the body? It helps keep your...

Read more

What to Eat and Drink on Peritoneal Dialysis

Choosing home peritoneal dialysis (PD) for treatment at stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) can give you greater flexibility lifestyle in...

Read More