Assessing the health impact of phosphorus in the food supply: issues and considerations

Adv Nutr. 2014 Jan 1;5(1):104-13. doi: 10.3945/an.113.004861.


The Western dietary pattern of intake common to many Americans is high in fat, refined carbohydrates, sodium, and phosphorus, all of which are associated with processed food consumption and higher risk of life-threatening chronic diseases. In this review, we focus on the available information on current phosphorus intake with this Western dietary pattern, and new knowledge of how the disruption of phosphorus homeostasis can occur when intake of phosphorus far exceeds nutrient needs and calcium intake is limited. Elevation of extracellular phosphorus, even when phosphorus intake is seemingly modest, but excessive relative to need and calcium intake, may disrupt the endocrine regulation of phosphorus balance in healthy individuals, as it is known to do in renal disease. This elevation in serum phosphate, whether episodic or chronically sustained, may trigger the secretion of regulatory hormones, whose actions can damage tissue, leading to the development of cardiovascular disease, renal impairment, and bone loss. Therefore, we assessed the health impact of excess phosphorus intake in the context of specific issues that reflect changes over time in the U.S. food supply and patterns of intake. Important issues include food processing and food preferences, the need to evaluate phosphorus intake in relation to calcium intake and phosphorus bioavailability, the accuracy of various approaches used to assess phosphorus intake, and the difficulties encountered in evaluating the relations of phosphorus intake to chronic disease markers or incident disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Fast Foods / adverse effects
  • Food Additives / administration & dosage
  • Food Additives / adverse effects
  • Food Supply*
  • Food, Preserved / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Phosphorus, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Phosphorus, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Phosphorus, Dietary / metabolism
  • United States


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Food Additives
  • Phosphorus, Dietary