Description Next to calcium, phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in the body, making up about 1% of total body weight.
Function/ Used for Phosphorus is essential for bone health.


Calcium, which gives strength to bones and teeth, needs to be combined with another mineral, such as phosphorous, to become stabilised before it can be effective.


Phosphorus also helps to release energy from food as it plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat and protein, and also helps to keep cell membranes working as they should.

Intake Recommended intake

EU NRV: 700mg


UK average daily intake

Unknown (in the UK)

As a supplement Not generally available as a single supplement. Commonly available as part of a multivitamin and mineral formula.

Different multivitamin and minerals products will vary in the percentage NRVs they include. People should always check the label for information about a specific product.

Found in (dietary sources) Good sources include red meat and poultry, dried milk and milk products, wheat germ, yeast, grains, hard cheeses, canned fish, nuts, potatoes, eggs and soft drinks.
Deficiency Symptoms include abnormal calcification of soft tissue, tetany (spasm and twitching of the muscles, particularly those of face, hands and feet), lethargy and anorexia. However, deficiency is unlikely as it is so widely distributed in food.
Precautions and contraindications Consuming high doses of phosphorus for a short time can cause diarrhoea or stomach pain.1

The long term over-consumption of foods high in phosphorus can deplete calcium resources and lead to reduced bone mass, which means that bones are more likely to fracture.2


Safe Upper Level (SUL):

·         Total intake of not more than 2,400mg/day1

·         Supplemental intake should not exceed 250mg /day

Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding Safety of the use of phosphorus during pregnancy and breastfeeding is unknown.
Interactions e.g. with other medications No clinically significant interactions between phosphorus and conventional medications are known to have been reported in literature to date.

Long term intake of aluminium hydroxide, an antacid, may deplete phosphorus levels.3,4

Adverse effects Phosphates can be toxic at levels over 1,000mg per day, leading to diarrhoea, calcification of organs and soft tissue, and preventing the absorption of iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.1
References 1.     Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals, 2003.

2.     Calvo, MS.  Advances in Nutritional Research. 1994:9 pp183-207 ‘The effects of high phosphorus intake on calcium homeostasis’

3.     Reynolds JEF, ed. Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia. 31st ed. London: Royal Pharmaceutical Society; 1996:1181-1182, 1741.

4.     Gaby A.R et al. A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. Health Notes. Three Rivers Press. New York. 2006