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What is phosphorous?

Get the facts on phosphorous, a mineral that's vital in the formation of healthy teeth and bones. Learn about the best sources of phosphorous and recommended daily intake.

Phosphorous is a mineral that is found throughout the body, mainly in the bones and teeth. Approximately 80% of the body’s phosphorus is present in the skeleton and the remainder is distributed in soft tissues and extracellular fluid.

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Always speak to your GP or healthcare provider before taking a new supplement or if you are concerned about nutritional deficiencies.

Why do we need phosphorous?

Phosphorus is vital in the formation of bones and teeth and is essential to help the body use and store energy.  It also aids in regulating kidney and nerve function, muscle contractions and heartbeat and is vital for the normal functioning of every cell in our body.  

How much phosphorous do we need and what are the effects of consuming too much?

In the UK, daily recommendations are set at 550mg for males and females aged 19 – 50 years.  A daily additional increment of 440mg for lactating women is advised, giving a total of 990mg a day in this group.  

In healthy individual, it is very difficult to consume too much phosphate from foods. Phosphorous supplements however have been reported to cause gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea and vomiting.   

Which foods are good sources of phosphorous?

Rich sources of phosphorous include milk products, meat, poultry, fish, legumes (dried peas, beans and lentils), nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Recipes that are high in phosphorous

Oregano halloumi with orzo salad
Tuna, avocado & quinoa salad
Pesto & goat’s cheese risotto
Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal

More on vitamins and minerals

What is zinc?
What is folic acid?
What is potassium?
Vital vitamins
Healthy pregnancy diet
What is vitamin B12?
The best sources of vitamin C
Am I getting enough vitamin D?


This article was published on July 2019.

Emer Delaney BSc (Hons), RD has an honours degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Ulster. She has worked as a dietitian in some of London’s top teaching hospitals and is currently based in Chelsea.

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