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Phosphorus for Kids

Phosphorus is a crucial nutrient for bone health, which is why we worry about it for kids. It’s also used in our genes and for energy. Luckily, most people in the US get enough phosphorus in their diet without trying too hard.

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What does phosphorus do?

Phosphorus is part of our bones, teeth, DNA, and RNA (1). It is part of the phospholipids of our cells and is used as the body’s main energy source: ATP.

Where can you get it?

Phosphorus is found in dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and grains. This means there are MANY options for your child to get phosphorus, even if they are picky. Calcium from foods can bind to it and decrease some of its absorption.

Recommended Intakes

I generally do not recommend closely monitoring phosphorus intake. My goal is to decrease stress and trying to estimate your child’s intake of anything will undoubtedly increase yours. However, I know it can be helpful to have ballpark ranges. You can use this information to look at food labels and determine if a food is a good phosphorus source.

AgeRecommended Intake in the US
0-6 months100 mg (AI)
7-12 months275 mg (AI)
1-3 years460 mg (RDA)
4-8 years500 mg (RDA)
Recommended Dietary Allowances are the average intakes that are sufficient to meet the requirements of nearly all healthy individuals (~97-98% of the population) (1). Adequate Intakes are established when there isn’t enough evidence to establish an RDA, but are assumed to meet needs.

The recommended intake for 0-6 months is based on the intake of breastfed infants. For infants 7-12 months, it is based on the intake from breastmilk plus complementary foods.

What happens if you don’t get enough?

It’s very rare for people to have low levels of phosphorus. Usually it’s not because they are not eating enough of it. There are groups, like premature infants, who are at risk for deficiency. This is why premature infants will often receive a special formula or fortified breastmilk with extra nutrients, like phosphorus.

Phosphorus Rich Foods for Baby Led Weaning

  • Apple
  • Asparagus
  • Beef
  • Bread
  • Cashews
  • Cauliflower
  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Clementine
  • Egg
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Salmon
  • Scallops
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Tomatoes
  • Tortillas
  • Yogurt

While not recommended for baby led weaning, dark colored colas are also a source of phosphorus.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with starting solids, definitely check out my Starting Solids Course! It’s designed to give you everything you need to know to introduce solids safely and confidently.

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