Phosphorus and CKD

Phosphorus is a mineral that is important for keeping your bones strong. With kidney disease, phosphorus can build up. Excess phosphorus can cause itchy skin and painful joints. But excess phosphorus also causes calcium to be pulled from the bones, and can make our bones weak. Controlling our phosphorus is important, but we’ve got some new information about phosphorus absorption and how to manage phosphorus for those with CKD. Let’s look at phosphorus and CKD.

Your body needs some phosphorus to function, because phosphorus also helps with muscle movements. But how much do we really need? Well most living with chronic kidney disease need about 800 – 1000 mg phosphorus per day.

New and improved phosphorus diet for CKD

In recent years, we’ve now learned that not all phosphorus sources are the same. In fact, we actually absorb less of some types of phosphorus and should include these in our kidney-friendly diet more often. What this means is that different types of phosphorus are absorbed differently in our bodies. Let’s break them down.

Phosphorus additives

This is phosphorus found in packaged and processed foods. We absorb 100% of phosphorus additives, so this is important to avoid when we have CKD.

There are so many different types of phosphorus additives: phosphoric acid, monocalcium phosphate and the list could go on and on. Phosphorus additives can be identified on the label by the letters “PHOS”.

Some examples of foods with phosphorus additives include: Cheerios cereal, Coke or Pepsi pop, Cheetos, Kraft Dinner, Ritz crackers to name just a few. 

Animal products

Think beef, pork, chicken and dairy products. These foods have 60-70% absorption.

If your phosphorus is high, limiting portions of animal protein (this is also important to lessen the load on the kidneys) as well as limiting dairy products can be helpful.

Plant products

These foods like nuts, seeds, tofu, legumes, beans are absorbed in the least amount about 30% absorption. Not only are these lower in phosphorus absorption as well, but these proteins are also easier for our kidneys to filter. So a win-win when we have CKD.

What can you do?

Here are my top tips to help you manage your blood phosphorus and CKD:

  • Read food labels and avoid foods with phosphorus additives
  • Make most of your meals at home, cooking from scratch when possible because restaurant and takeout meals often have phosphorus additives hidden
  • Choose plant-based proteins more often
  • Limit animal protein to 3 oz twice per day
  • Remember to aim for half your plate in vegetables at each meal
  • Include fruit as a snack

What foods to choose?

Here are my top foods to include on a low phosphorus diet with CKD:

  • Grains: Barley, bulgur, couscous, parboiled rice
  • Breads: 60% whole wheat, light rye, sourdough
  • Cereals: Puffed rice, Cornflakes, Corn bran, oatmeal
  • Protein: canned beans or legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, limit animal protein to 3 oz per serving
  • Fluids: water, tea, coffee
  • Dairy: low sodium cheese, milk, yogurt – limit but do not avoid if phosphorus is high

Does Today’s Article Speak To Your Struggles?

If you’re looking to feel empowered and supported with your nutrition needs, working with a dietitian can help you gain confidence and understand your kidney-friendly diet.

Want to work together? Connect with Emily here.

Want to learn more about Emily? Learn more here.

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