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Adv Nutr Res. 1994;9:183-207.

The effects of high phosphorus intake on calcium homeostasis.

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Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, Washington DC 20204, USA.


Survey data confirm that the dietary pattern of many American women who are at high risk of developing osteoporosis is typically high in phosphorus and low in calcium. The imbalance between calcium and phosphorus intake may become more pronounced with continued changes in food preferences and the growing use of phosphorus-containing food additives. Recent studies in young women have shown that a high phosphorus diet moderately low in calcium results in a mild secondary hyperparathyroidism that persists over 4 weeks. Plasma levels of calcitriol did not change despite changes in PTH and serum ionized calcium. Studies on men have shown that dietary phosphorus at levels within the normal range of intakes can affect the renal production and serum concentration of calcitriol. High phosphorus intakes for ten days reduced their plasma calcitriol levels; a 70% reduction in phosphate intake significantly increased their plasma calcitriol. Thus, several lines of evidence indicate that prolonged high phosphorus intake may impair the usual homeostatic mechanisms that come into play when dietary calcium is limited. This, in turn, could impair achievement of maximal bone mass or accelerate bone loss. Although no clinical studies have linked high phosphorus intake with lower bone mass or higher rates of bone loss in humans, this relationship has been demonstrated in animal models. For example, young beagles fed high phosphorus, moderately low calcium diets showed a significant reduction in vertebral bone mass. Current dietary patterns of high phosphorus, low calcium consumption result in persistent changes in calcium regulating hormones that are not conducive to maximizing peak bone mass during growth or slowing the rate of aging bone loss. The net effect of the present dietary pattern on bone status, particularly in teenage and young adult women, needs to be determined. Optimal nutrition early in life, which may include higher calcium and lower phosphorus intakes, together with adequate exercise, may be the most cost-effective approach to the prevention of osteoporotic fractures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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