Low phosphorus diet (1223)

Key points below

Why does my child need a low phosphorus diet?  

Phosphorus is a mineral found in most foods. It helps the body in many ways, but, too much, can cause serious problems.  People with high phosphorus levels are at risk for bone problems. They also may have red eyes and itchiness.

It can be very hard to limit phosphorus intake because it is found in so many foods.

Dairy, and other protein foods, have the most phosphorus. Because the body needs protein, we cannot keep phosphorus completely out of our diet.

What foods can my child eat?

Your child should eat only 1 serving of a dairy product each day. Your child should also eat only 1 age-appropriate serving of a protein food at 3 meals per day. Other high phosphorus foods should only be eaten once in a while. If your child is still hungry at meals, give more fruits, vegetables and starches. Do not give more meat or dairy.

What foods should my child limit?

Protein Foods (Eat 1 serving per meal)
Meat / Animal protein: Beef
Peanut butter
Other nut butters
Dried beans


Dairy Products (Eat 1 serving per day)

Include cow’s milk, cheese, pudding, yogurt, and ice cream.

Phosphorus in other foods

 Other high phosphorus foods that should be limited in your child’s diet include: corn, peas, whole grain foods, beverages with phosphoric acid and chocolate.

Phosphorus is also used as a preservative in many dried and pre-packaged foods. Look at the ingredient list for words that include “phos” to see if they contain phosphorus. If they do, they should be limited in your child’s diet. Some examples of phosphorus additives include:

What are some low phosphorus alternatives for my child’s favorite foods?

Diet alone may not be enough to control phosphorus. In that case, a medicine called a phosphate binder may need to be taken with meals. The binder absorbs extra phosphorus from food. You can think of it as a “phosphorus sponge.” This medicine must be taken with your meals and snacks. If food is not in your stomach when you take the binder it is much less effective.  


Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.