Control phosphorus for strong bones and a stronger heart

low phosphorus food?

When your kidneys don’t work properly, too much phosphorus can build up in your blood. This can pull calcium from your bones which, over time, weakens the bones and harms the heart.

Limit Foods High in Phosphorus, including:

  • Fast food, convenience food
  • Colas and bottled iced tea
  • Chicken nuggets, processed meats and chicken
  • Frozen baked goods, baking mixes
  • Bran cereals/muffins, granola
  • Instant puddings and sauces
  • Milk, dairy products, cheese (especially processed cheese)
  • Chocolate candy/drinks
  • Beans, nuts, and seeds

Read Food Labels

Limit or avoid foods with “phos” words in the list of ingredients. Here are some examples of ingredients to limit:

  • Dicalcium phosphate
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Sodium hexameta-phosphate
  • Trisodium phosphate

Look at your monthly lab results carefully. Keep phosphorus levels between 3.5 and 5.5. Ask your dialysis dietitian for more information on controlling phosphorus.

Download this single page on phosphorus basics

Control phosphorus for strong bones and a stronger heart

Dialysis doesn’t remove all of the extra phosphorus from your blood. Controlling phosphorus in what you eat prevents damage to bones and your heart.

low phosphorus foods at the market

Low phosphorus foods at the market

Arlene, a Satellite Healthcare dietitian, takes you to her local grocery store to give you ideas on delicious foods that are low in phosphorus.

control phosphorus for better health

Control phosphorus for better health

Wanda, a Satellite Healthcare dietitian, makes it easy to understand how to make the right choices to control the amount of phosphorus in the food you eat.

Controlling Phosphorus

On food labels, carefully read the ingredient list. When you see an ingredient that contains  the phrase ‘phos,’ that means the food has added phosphorus and should be avoided or enjoyed rarely and in small amounts.
Many foods have additives that contain phosphorus. Cook meals with fresh ingredients. Limit fast food and processed/packaged foods.
Enjoy low phosphorus drinks such as coffee, tea, apple juice, lemon lime or orange soda. Limit beer, colas, and drinks made with milk.
Follow your kidney doctor’s orders including taking prescribed phosphorus binders and getting every minute of your dialysis treatment.

The importance of reading food labels

Wanda Yu, a Satellite Healthcare dietitian, makes it easy to understand how to read a food label for better food choices.

Read more about reading food labels

Calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus

Calcium and phosphorus, along with vitamin D, keep bones and teeth strong. Calcium also helps muscles and nerves work. Here are some important things to know about calcium in your body.

  • If your blood calcium is low, your body pulls calcium from your bones to correct the blood levels. Too much calcium may be harmful for people with kidney disease.
  • Don’t take extra calcium or vitamin D unless your doctor or dietitian  recommend it.
  • Avoid foods that have extra calcium added (juices, drinks, cereals, milk substitutes, dairy products).
  • You may be asked to take a phosphate binder that contains calcium.
  • Your doctor and dietitian will make sure your total calcium intake isn’t too high or too low.
dialysis dietitian

Discuss your monthly lab results with your dialysis dietitian

Monthly blood and other lab tests help your dialysis dietitian understand what nutrients you need more of and which nutrients you may need to limit.


dialysis and diabetes

Manage diabetes for a longer life

Uncontrolled diabetes makes it harder to stay healthy on dialysis. Monitor and control your blood sugar. Take prescribed medications. Make food choices to help control your blood sugar. 

Home dialysis may offer more freedom with food

Dialysis at home has many advantages. A significant one is more flexibility with food choices. People having treatments at home may have:
  • More freedom to eat foods they love
  • Less need to reduce the amount of fluids they drink
  • Fewer medications to take

Dialysis in a center and food planning

Most people on dialysis in a center need to monitor their diet and fluid intake carefully to stay healthy. This means thoughtfully planning meals to:
  • Control potassium and phosphorus intake
  • Get enough of the right kinds of protein
  • Limit salt/sodium intake
  • Monitor fluid intake
  • Get enough kidney-friendly calories to stay healthy and active