Kidney Diet Tips

The challenge of phosphorus and chronic kidney disease

Phosphorus is an important topic for anyone with chronic kidney disease because knowing about phosphorus and controlling it can save your heart and bones, and extend your life. In early stages of kidney disease, metabolic changes occur in the kidney to help get rid of extra phosphorus. Eventually, vitamin D is no longer activated in the kidney and a hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH) starts to increase. As kidney function is lost, phosphorus levels start to climb.

The problem with having too much PTH and too much phosphorus is the bones start releasing calcium and phosphorus into the blood, leading to higher phosphorus levels. The blood vessels, organs and other soft tissues in the body start getting calcifications—deposits of calcium-phosphorus similar to bone tissue. The bones are losing precious calcium and become weak. The treatment is to give activated vitamin D, decrease high phosphorus foods and take a phosphorus binding medication if needed.

It may seem to you like phosphorus is in almost every food, but some foods are higher than others. It’s important to learn about foods naturally high in phosphorus and which ones you still need to eat to get adequate nutrition. Some naturally high phosphorus foods, such as milk, yogurt, nuts, beans, chocolate and organ meats are limited or eliminated, while some foods like eggs, meat, chicken and seafood are still included to be sure high quality protein intake is adequate.

Learning about food additives that contain phosphate is also important as more and more processed foods are showing up with phosphate additives.

 DaVita’s 30 day Phosphorus Challenge is a valuable tool for learning more about phosphorus. In addition to a Game Gallery with 12 fun games related to phosphorus, polls and quizzes the challenge offers an Education section with phosphorus related articles, videos and recipes. You can download information on eating out, grocery buying, a lab tracker, diet and exercise log and tips for reducing phosphorus in your favorite recipes. The Community section contains forum discussions about phosphorus control, diet issues, food substitutes and other phosphorus related topics.

To take the 30 day Phosphorus Challenge you can go to DaVita.com/PhosphorusChallenge and sign up. You will receive a series of 11 emails with links to the Phosphorus Challenge games, education and community.

Try some of these recipes recommended in the DaVita Phosphorus Challenge:

Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Easy Low Phosphorus Fudge

Fettuccini Alfredo

Homemade Pizza

Turkey Vegetable Chili

Kidney diet resources from DaVita.com

Review and rate recipes

Discussion Forums

Monthly Recipe Alerts

DaVita Diet Helper

Phosphorus Challenge

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.