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One-Third at Increased Death Risk Due to Excess Intake

Sodas, prepared frozen foods, meat, dairy. Most Americans consume too much. Such excess drives rising rates of obesity, and all the related health risks. But such dietary patterns have also increased intake of phosphorus, elevated levels of which are linked to increased risk of death from all causes, even among the relatively healthy.

Such is the implication of brand-new research, published in the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study analyzed dietary data on 9,686 healthy adults of varying ages (NHANES III) for 12 to 18 years and found that more than a third consumed nearly double the recommended daily allowance of phosphorus (700 mg/day) increasing their risk of "all cause" mortality. The findings are all the more concerning given the fact that levels of phosphorus intake have been on the rise for the past two decades, compounded by "the widespread use of inorganic phosphorus additives in processed food," according to study co-author Alex Chang, M.D. One big culprit is soda, 1-1/2 cans of which are consumed in the average American daily.

Researchers hypothesize that excessive intake of phosphorus over an extended period may raise levels of hormones that cause the kidneys to excrete more calcium, increasing calcification of blood vessels, enlargement of the heart, weakening of the bones, and kidney disease. It is best to limit less-healthy sources, such as beef, cheese, and dry food mixes. Opt for healthier phosphorus sources like salmon, oatmeal, almonds, and beans – not only do such whole foods supply other needed nutrients (and fewer unneeded calories) they’re less likely to contribute to too much of this mineral since only about 50% of plant-based phosphorus (or phytic acid) is absorbed by the body.

Published April 1, 2014

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