Up to 1 percent of your body is phosphorus, according to Medline Plus. Most of that phosphorus is in your bones, followed by small percentages found in teeth and cells. This makes phosphorus an essential nutrient to preserve the health of bones, as well as essential for the synthesis of protein and the contraction of muscles. Adults need 700 mg of phosphorus per day, all of which you can easily obtain through your diet if you eat a healthy variety of foods.
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Meats of all types are good sources of phosphorus. Fish, poultry and beef are all rich in phosphorus. Eggs, milk and milk products are also good sources of dietary phosphorus. According to the USDA, up to 24 percent of the phosphorus consumed comes from dairy.
Strict vegetarians who don’t consume any type of animal protein will need to look for phosphorus somewhere else. However, phosphorus from non-animal sources is harder for the body to absorb and process. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the body can only use about 50 percent of phosphorus from vegetable sources. The vegetarian foods with the highest amount of phosphorus include almonds, lentils and peanuts. All fruits and vegetables contain a small amount of phosphorus.
Carbonated beverages, such as soda, contain high amounts of phosphorus. A 12-oz. bottle of soda contains 40 mg of phosphorus, which is more than the amount found in enriched white bread. Whole wheat bread has slightly more, at 57 mg per slice. Pumpkin kernels are rich in phosphorus at 33 mg per ounce.
Foods lose their phosphorus content when they’re cooked. This is true even if the cooking time is short. To make the most of foods, try to eat them raw whenever possible, such as in the case of fruits and vegetables. If you’re going to cook something, choose a method that requires no water, as this can leach the phosphorus out of the food. For meats, broiling and roasting are best.