Phosphate (Phosphorus)

Optimal Result: 2.8 - 4.1 mg/dL, or 0.90 - 1.32 mmol/L.

Along with calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride, phosphorus is one of the six essential minerals required by the human body in significant quantities.

Phosphate concentration is characterized by a high physiological variation, depending on age, gender, physiological state (eg, pregnancy), and even season (due to the seasonal variation of vitamin D which is directly involved in the regulation of phosphate concentration).

Therefore, separate reference intervals have been established according to the age and gender:

In males, the reference range is as follows:

Age 0-12 months - Not established

Age 1-4 years - 4.3-5.4 mg/dL

Age 5-13 years - 3.7-5.4 mg/dL

Age 14-15 years - 3.5-5.3 mg/dL

Age 16-17 years - 3.1-4.7 mg/dL

Age 18 years or older - 2.5-4.5 mg/dL

In females, the reference range is as follows:

Age 0-12 months - Not established

Age 1-7 years - 4.3-5.4 mg/dL

Age 8-13 years - 4-5.2 mg/dL

Age 14-15 years - 3.5-4.9 mg/dL

Age 16-17 years - 3.1-4.7 mg/dL

Age 18 years or older - 2.5-4.5 mg/dL

What does it mean if your Phosphate (Phosphorus) result is too low?

A lower than normal level may be due to many different conditions. Common causes include:

- Alcoholism

- Hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the body)

- Hyperparathyroidism (parathyroid glands make too much of their hormone)

- Too little dietary intake of phosphate

- Very poor nutrition

- Too little vitamin D, resulting in bone problems such as rickets (childhood) or osteomalacia (adult)

What does it mean if your Phosphate (Phosphorus) result is too high?

A higher than normal level (hyperphosphatemia) may be due to many different health conditions. Common causes include:

- Diabetic ketoacidosis (life-threatening condition that may occur in people with diabetes)

- Hypoparathyroidism (parathyroid glands do not make enough of their hormone)

- Kidney failure

- Liver disease

- Too much vitamin D

- Too much phosphate in your diet (read below for details)

- Use of certain medicines such as laxatives that have phosphate in them


Phosphorus can be found in foods (organic phosphorus) and is naturally found in protein-rich foods such as meats, poultry, fish, nuts, beans and dairy products. Phosphorus found in animal foods is absorbed more easily than phosphorus found in plant foods.

Phosphorus that has been added to food in the form of an additive or preservative (inorganic phosphorus) is found in foods such as fast foods, ready to eat foods, canned and bottled drinks, enhanced meats, and most processed foods. Phosphorus from food additives is completely absorbed. Avoiding phosphorus additives can lower your intake of phosphorus. Phosphorus additives are found on the list of ingredients on the nutrition facts label. Look for “PHOS” to find phosphorus additives in the food.

Phosphorus additives found in foods include:

- Dicalcium phosphate
- Disodium phosphate
- Monosodium phosphate
- Phosphoric acid
- Sodium hexameta-phosphate
- Trisodium phosphate
- Sodium tripolyphosphate
- Tetrasodium pyrophosphate

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