TABLE 5-2 Average Phosphorus Content and Calcium:Phosphorus Molar Ratio of Various Infant Feedings

Feeding Type

P (mmol/liter)

Ca:P Molar Ratio

Human milka


1 week

5.1 ± 0.9


4 weeks

4.8 ± 0.8


16 weeks

3.9 ± 0.5


Cows' milk formula



Soy formulab



Whole cows' milk



about one-third that of total phosphorus intake. Nevertheless, individuals with high dairy product intakes will have diets with higher phosphorus density values, since the phosphorus density of cow milk is higher than that of most other foods in a typical diet. The same is true for diets high in colas and a few other soft drinks that use phosphoric acid as the acidulant. A 12-ounce serving of such beverages contains about 50 mg (< 2 mmol), which is only 5 percent of the typical intake of an adult woman. However, when consumed in a quantity of five or more servings per day, such beverages may contribute substantially to total phosphorus intake.

a Milk phosphorus at three different weeks of lactation (Atkinson et al., 1995).

b Phosphorus content of soy formula includes about 3 mmol/L, present as phytate phosphorus which is likely not to be bioavailable (DeVizia and Mansi, 1992).

Intake from Supplements

Phosphorus supplements are not widely used in the United States. Based on a national survey in 1986, about 10 percent of U.S. adults and 6 percent of children aged 2 to 6 years took supplements containing phosphorus (Moss et al., 1989). Usage by men and women was similar, as was the dose taken by users: a median of about 120 mg (3.9 mmol)/day and a ninety-fifth percentile of 448 mg (14.5 mmol)/day. Young children who took supplements had a median supplemental intake of only 48 mg (1.5 mmol)/day and a ninety-fifth percentile of intake of 200 mg (6.5 mmol)/day.

Effects of Inadequate Phosphorus Intake
Hypophosphatemia and Phosphorus Depletion

Inadequate phosphorus intake is expressed as hypophosphatemia.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement