High Phosphorus? Investigate the Cause When You Have Kidney Disease

Provided by DaVita® Dietitians

Do you have high phosphorus levels and wondering why this could be? It’s time to investigate it. Phosphorus is the second most common mineral in the body after calcium and is needed for good health. However, people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have difficulty eliminating extra phosphorus from their bodies. For this reason, it is important to know how to lower high phosphorus levels.

Likely offenders: High-phosphorus foods

If your phosphorus level is higher than 5.5 mg/dL, some detective work is needed to uncover the cause. It’s likely that you’re eating high-phosphorus foods regularly. To know what is high in phosphorus, let’s clue you in on the likely offenders:

  • Milk, ice cream, yogurt, or pudding
  • Cheese or peanut butter
  • Cheese-flavored crackers or snack foods
  • Liver, organ meats, hot dogs, sausage, or “enhanced meats”
  • Canned salmon (with bones) or sardines
  • Nuts or seeds (including almonds, pecans, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
  • Dried beans and peas or baked beans (including canned beans and peas)
  • Quick breads, biscuits, cornbread, pancakes or waffles made from mixes
  • Bran muffins, bran cereals or granola bars
  • Pizza, lasagna, tacos, corn tortillas, or ‘fast foods’
  • Chocolate, caramels, or candies containing chocolate, nuts, or peanut butter
  • Colas, some canned and bottled teas and lemonades, beer, cocoa and any drinks containing phosphate additives
  • Latte and cappuccino
  • Foods or drinks with hidden sources of phosphorus. Ask your dietitian for a list.

Your secret weapon to lowering phosphorus: Phosphate binders

Are you using enough phosphate binders and taking them the best way possible? Try these tips to see if they help.

  • Use phosphate binders as directed, as every patient’s subscription is different.
  • Take your phosphate binder every time you eat unless instructed differently.
  • If you only eat one large meal a day, try eating two or three times instead.
  • In addition to the above tips, come to all scheduled dialysis treatments so that excess phosphorus can be removed from your blood.


The right amount of phosphorus helps the body to function as it should. But too much phosphorus can cause problems, making it bad news for your kidney health. If you find that you have high phosphorus levels, try following some of the above tips to bring it under control. Once your phosphorus level goes below 5.5 mg/dL on a regular basis, your dietitian may be able to help you safely include an occasional high-phosphorus food into your kidney diet. A little investigative work into why you’re levels of phosphorus is high can help you solve the case.

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