Inorganic Phosphate

A phosphate is an inorganic chemical and a salt of phosphoric acid. Phosphate occurs naturally in the form of organic esters in many kinds of food, including meat, potatoes, bread, and other farinaceous products; the consumption of such foods cannot be restricted without incurring the risk of lowering protein intake. Naturally occurring phosphate in food is organically bound, and only 40% to 60% of it is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Inorganic phosphates (not organically bound phosphate) are very effectively absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Typical foods with large amounts of added phosphate are processed meat, ham, sausages, canned fish, baked goods, cola drinks, and other soft drinks. The added phospate content is not marked on the package. To make matters worse, foods declared to be "additive-free" upon direct chemical analysis may contain nearly 70% higher phosphorus content, contributing an average of >100 mg of phosphorus/100 g of protein.2 See Contribution of food categories to phosphorus intake and examples of phosphorus containing ingredients frequently used in processing foods in each category.

Health risk posed by phosphate lay in the promotion of calcification in blood vessels and bodily organs and bone loss. Even mild elevations of serum phosphate within the normal range are also associated with cardiovascular disease risk; they may initiate atherosclerosis, left ventricular hypertrophy, and other disease risks.2 Phosphate causes lasting damage to the cardiovascular system, either by a direct mechanism or by way of hormonal factors (ibroblast growth factor-23 FGF-23 and PTH). In animals phosphate accelerates aging processes (muscle and skin atrophy, the progression of chronic renal failure, and cardiovascular calcifications).1

Cheese pizza may have added inorganic phosphate
Phosphorus ingredients (phosphoric acid, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, potassium tripolyphosphate) are used in processing milk and dairy products


  1. Phosphate Additives in Food—a Health Risk
  2. Phosphate Additives in Food—a Health Risk