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Phosphorus and Kidney Disease

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Renal Diet

Phosphorous and Kidney Disease

Phosphorus and Kidney DiseaseWhat’s The Problem with Phosphorus and Kidney Disease?

If you are on Dialysis or fighting to stave off Kidney Disease, your dietician has probably outlined a diet and directed you to stay away from certain foods containing too much phosphorous.

What is Phosphorous?

Phosphorous is a chemical element with the symbol P and if you watch Breaking Bad, you will notice the Atomic Number 15 floating around, which identifies Phosphorous. It is also a critical component of life, found in DNA. In the form of phospholipids, it is found in the membranes of cells. We need it to thrive. Bones, teeth-Phosphorous Rocks, but too much is not good!

Quick and Interesting History of Phosphorous

In the mid 1600’s, A German Alchemist, Robert Boyle, in search of a way to turn everyday metals into gold, collected human urine. I’ll bet that was fun. Can you imagine selling your urine? I wonder if this evolved into the modern Blood Drive?

With the vats of human waste, Boyle went about extracting the dissolved phosphates, distilled the metabolized waste and even tried evaporation-often for days at a time. My God! This is a sure-fire way to keep the relatives from visiting!

All this was not in vain for the tireless Boyle. After playing with urine for extended periods of time, he finally figured out something useful to do with it and was the first to use Phosphorous on the tips of sticks, igniting and causing instant fire with the ancient discovery of what we now call matches. I hope it was worth it.

But what does this mean for your diet if you have Kidney Disease?

We need Phosphorous in our bodies, but evidenced by what is found in our urine, we also need to get rid of too much Phosphorous. Primarily found in our bones and teeth. An average adult consumes 1-3 grams of Phosphorous daily, replenishing the needs for strong teeth, bones and soft cell nourishment.

But what does this have to do with your kidneys?

One of the main kidney functions is to regulate both calcium and phosphorous in the body. These are the most common minerals found in the body and they work together, or at least they should co-exist.
Besides providing nourishment, Phosphorous has a big job of helping to regulate calcium levels in the body and we all know from those milk commercials that calcium is needed for strong bones.

A healthy body, with kidneys working properly will get rid of the excess phosphorous through urine. Too much phosphorous in the body will send a warning signal to the brain and calcium stored in the bones will go to work, increasing calcium, but depleting the bone’s supply. Trying to even the levels in this manner will cause a loss of calcium in the bones and this will result in brittle bones that break easily.