Phosphorus: a new risk factor for cardiovascular disease?

Food and nutrition

Published on 8 September 2017
by Isabelle Huot

The little-known mineral phosphorus help build teeth and bones, as well as holds a role in the production of energy. It can be found mainly in products of animal origin such as meat, poultry, dairy and eggs, as well as in nuts and seeds. Several processed food products contain phosphorus-based additives (sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, phosphoric acid, etc.). The daily requirement is estimated at 700 mg while the average Canadian consumes far more; between 1,250 mg and 1,500 mg with up to an additional 1,000 mg from processed foods.

It is widely known that people who suffer from kidney disease must limit their intake of phosphorus; recent scientific data shows that individuals in good health should also monitor their phosphorus consumption. A diet with daily intakes of 1,400 mg or higher is linked to higher mortality rates, especially from cardiovascular disease. The current maximum tolerable upper intake level (UL) is 4,000 mg for individuals above 9 years of age (3,000 mg for adults 70 years or above).

Yet, recent data indicates that these levels must be re-evaluated and lowered.

To limit phosphorus intake:

  • Avoid processed foods by preparing home cooked meals;
  • Replace meat with plant-based proteins such as legumes;
  • Increase consumption of plant-based foods;
  • Carefully read ingredient lists to avoid phosphate additives.
Isabelle Huot
Doctor in nutrition