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Low Phosphate Dietary Advice

Date issued: October 2022

Review date: October 2024

Ref: C-354/dietetics/KO/Low phosphate dietary advice v3

PDF: Low phosphate dietary advice final October 2022 v3.pdf [pdf] 212KB

What is Phosphate?

Phosphate is a mineral that is found in a range of different foods.  It helps to maintain healthy bones.

Why do I need to lower my phosphate levels?

The kidneys usually control the amount of phosphate that is in your blood.  When the kidneys are not working properly phosphate levels can start to rise and this can lead to hardening of the blood vessels, weak bones and itchy skin.  Prolonged high phosphate levels can also cause bony deposits, known as ‘calcification’, to form in the blood vessels, heart, skin, lungs and joints. Calcification increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

You can reduce your phosphate levels by:

  • Limiting your intake of phosphate additives

  • Reducing your intake of high phosphate foods

  • Taking your phosphate binders (if you are prescribed them)

Phosphate additives

Many processed foods contain phosphate additives, which are often used as stabilisers and raising agents.  This type of phosphate is more readily absorbed by the body than phosphate found naturally in food.

Check the ingredients list on food labels to see if they contain phosphate additives.

Common phosphate additives

Common phosphate additives:

  • Diphosphates (E450)
  • Triphosphates (E451)
  • Polyphosphates (E452)
  • Phosphoric acid (E338)
  • Sodium phosphate (E339)
  • Potassium phosphate (E340)
  • Calcium phosphate (E341)
  • Magnesium phosphate (E343)


Food labels to check:

  • Processed meat products, battered and breaded fish/chicken, sausages, sausage rolls, pork pies, etc
  • Bakery goods e.g., cakes, scones, crumpets, scotch pancakes, naan bread
  • Cereal bars
  • Processed cheeses and cheese spreads
  • Instant pasta/noodles


Reducing your phosphate intake


High in phosphate

Lower phosphate alternative

Cheese: Hard or processed cheese

Cheese spread e.g.Dairylea®/Primula®, Cheese sauces

Limit cheese to 3-4 oz (90-120 g) per week

Cow’s milk or milk alternative (fortified) - limit to ½ pint (300 mls) per day

Evaporated or condensed milk

Milk puddings and yoghurt (include in milk allowance)

Cottage cheese, cream cheese

Cream or crème fraiche

Processed meat: Pre-packed sliced meats, ham, processed meat products

Offal (liver, kidney, pate)

Unprocessed Meat: Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey

Fish with edible bones e.g. mackerel, pilchards, sardines, whitebait, fish paste

Shellfish: scampi, fresh crab, mussels

Fresh unprocessed fish: Cod, haddock, salmon, trout, boneless tinned fish, tinned crab, scallops

Plant proteins: Baked beans, hummus, kidney beans

Nuts and seeds

Tofu, Quorn®, textured soya protein

If you are a vegetarian, continue to use beans and pulses as a source of protein

Drinks:  Dark coloured fizzy drinks e.g., Dr Pepper® & cola, drinking chocolate, malted drinks (Horlicks® & Ovaltine®), milkshakes, Bovril

Alcoholic drinks: Lager, beer, stout

Pale coloured fizzy drinks e.g. lemonade, tea, fruit squash, coffee, cordial

Wine, spirits, cider

Confectionary: Chocolate, fudge, biscuits containing chocolate, nuts or seeds, cereal bars

Cakes containing baking powder

Fruit pastilles, boiled sweets, marshmallows, plain biscuits (gingernuts, digestives, rich tea), shortcake, doughnuts, cream cakes

Breakfast Cereals: All Bran®, Branflakes, Muesli, any cereals containing nuts or chocolate

Cornflakes, Rice Krispies®, Special K®, Porridge oats, Weetabix®

Miscellaneous: Peanut butter, Marmite®, pesto, Bovril, instant sauces

Jam, marmalade, honey


Phosphate binders

If your phosphate levels remain high, or you are not able to follow a low phosphate diet, you may be prescribed phosphate binders.  For these tablets to work effectively, they need to be taken immediately before, during or immediately after food.

  • Renacet/Phosex (Calcium Acetate)

  • Calcichew (Calcium Carbonate)

  • Fosrenol tablets, Fosrenol powder (Lanthanum Carbonate)

  • Renvela (Sevelamer Carbonate)

  • Renagel (Sevelamer Hydrochloride)

If you have any issues with your prescribed phosphate binder, speak with your dietitian, consultant or specialist nurse who may be able to advise on a suitable alternative.

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