High phosphate levels in blood

Like calcium, phosphate is a mineral that strengthens the bones.

Like calcium, phosphate is stored in bones and is present in blood. Normal kidneys help to keep the right amount of phosphate in the blood. When kidneys fail, phosphate builds up in the blood.

Normal phosphate levels in the blood are 2.5 to 4.5 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). In kidney patients phosphate levels can exceed 4.5 mg/dL.

High levels of phosphate can cause severe itching, which can be very uncomfortable. High phosphate levels also mean low calcium levels, which in turn means weakened bones.

Unfortunately, phosphates are not easily removed by dialysis. To keep phosphate levels down people with kidney failure should follow a healthy diet and, in particular, avoid phosphate-rich foods such as dairy products, nuts, and meat.

May 1, 2006