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Phosphate Binders

Healthy kidneys help filter phosphorus from your body. When your kidneys can no longer keep your phosphorus at the right level, it builds up and becomes harmful to your health. If you are living with kidney disease or are on dialysis, you may be prescribed a phosphate binder—a medication that can help manage your phosphorus levels so you can feel your best.

What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus works with calcium to build strong bones as well as keep other parts of your body healthy. While phosphorus occurs naturally in many foods, phosphates are chemicals added to processed foods and drinks to alter taste, texture, or shelf life. When grocery shopping, check nutrition labels for ingredients with “PHOS,” so you can avoid foods that are high in phosphorus.
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Specially trained pharmacists, like those at FreseniusRx, understand your medications and kidney disease. Save a trip to the pharmacy and have many of your medications delivered to your home or dialysis center.
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What are phosphate binders?

Phosphate binders, also known as phosphorus binders, are a type of medication that prevents your body from absorbing phosphorus (PHOS) from the food you eat. They can come in tablet, powder, or liquid form. Taking phosphate binders as prescribed, completing every dialysis treatment, and eating a kidney-friendly diet can help manage your phosphorus levels.

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How do phosphate binders work?

Phosphate binders work in two different ways. Some binders work like a magnet by attaching to the phosphorus in food, which is then eliminated in the digestive tract. Other binders work more like a sponge by absorbing the phosphates in food before they get into your bloodstream.

Types of phosphate binders

Some people on dialysis are prescribed phosphate binders to help manage their phosphorus levels. There are four types of phosphate binders: calcium-based*; aluminum-based; magnesium-based; and aluminum-free, calcium-free binders. Your doctor and care team will work with you to find the right combination and dosages to help you manage your phosphate levels.

*Too much calcium can lead to hardening of the arteries, irregular heartbeat, bone deposits on your skin, or death. Talk to your doctor or care team about the different types of binders, and see if a non-calcium based binder is right for you.

How do I take my phosphate binders?

Alongside a kidney-friendly diet, phosphate binders can lower phosphorus levels in people living with kidney disease. Phosphate binders are taken before, during, or after a meal or snack. Your doctor or dietitian will tell you when it is best to take your phosphate binders and what dosage is right for you.  

Common side effects of phosphate binders

It is important to be aware of possible side effects for any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take. The most common side effects of phosphate binders are gastrointestinal, with symptoms such as constipation, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.


A better binder for a better you
Food and binders go together to make a healthy heart and strong bones—so take them exactly as prescribed when you eat. Use this checklist to help identify what binders are right for you.
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Low-phos recipes
Along with taking your phosphate binders, if prescribed, at each meal, cooking delicious recipes that are low in phosphorus can help you manage your phosphorus levels.
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Have more questions about phosphate binders?

Your nephrologist (kidney doctor) or dietitian can answer your questions about managing your phosphorus levels or taking phosphate binders. You may also have access to specially trained pharmacists, like those at FreseniusRx, who are available 24/7 to answer any of your medication-related questions. Talk to your care team to learn more.