Phosphate is a compound made from the mineral phosphorus and oxygen. It's an important part of everything from your DNA to your cell membranes, and it's in something called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) that provides energy to cells.
But you can end up with too much phosphate in your body for a variety of reasons: excess dietary intake; a deficiency in calcium or magnesium; problems with your thyroid, parathyroid gland, or other hormones; and kidney disease or respiratory problems.
Phosphates occur naturally in foods such as fish, pork, tofu, milk, chicken, scallops, lentils, squash seeds, beef, and whole grains. That's terrific, because you need a daily supply to stay healthy. The recommended daily allowance for males and females ages 9 to 18 is 1,250 mg a day; for those over 18, it's 700 mg a day.
But the food industry has taken to adding phosphates to a wide range of foods to increase moisture retention, improve texture, and enhance flavor. Baked goods, fast foods, deli and prepared or processed meats, and colas are commonly filled with added phosphates.
A recent study in the journal Circulation reveals that the more excess phosphates you have in your diet, the more sedentary you are likely to become. This happens because a high-phosphate diet reduces maximal oxygen intake and interferes with fat oxidation, leading to weight gain.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reported that consuming more than 1,400 mg a day of phosphorus was “associated with higher all-cause mortality.” Unfortunately, the average American male between ages 20 and 60 consumes between 1,650 and 1,754 mg a day
In order to make sure that you don't take in excess phosphates/phosphorus, follow these four steps:
1. Eliminate all red and prepared or processed meats from your diet.
2. Do not drink colas — sugar-free or sugar-added.
3. Avoid store-bought baked goods and foods with added sugars.
4. Read ingredient labels. Phosphorus can show up as dicalcium phosphate, disodium phosphate, monosodium phosphate, phosphoric acid, sodium hexameta-phosphate, trisodium phosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate, and tetrasodium pyrophosphate.