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January 15, 2010 | Nutrition Articles

Many people with CKD need to be aware of how much protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorus they eat. Protein and sodium are usually listed on the nutrition labels of packaged foods while potassium and phosphorus generally are not.

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Sodium is often limited in the diet for people with CKD. Food labels usually list the amount of sodium in a serving of a food. Always pay attention to the serving size in case you are eating more or less than one serving.

There are two ways of checking the amount sodium in a serving:

  • Check the milligrams (mg) per serving. Look for less than 200 mg per serving
  • Check the percent daily value (% DV).

Sodium should be limited to less than 2000 mg in total per day.

In general, look for foods that have no more than 6 to 10% of the daily value for sodium.

Or choose per serving:

  • 400+ mg = Too Much
  • 200 – 400mg = Be Careful
  • 0 – 200mg = Go Ahead


Protein builds, repairs and maintains your body tissues. Some people need less and some need more. Ask your dietitian how much protein you need daily.

Label ProteinMeat Servings
7 grams*1
14 grams*2
21 grams*3

The food label will list the amount of protein in grams.
* refers to the grams of protein not the weight of the protein.
Each 7 grams = 1 ounce of protein or 1 meat serving
For example: 3 ounces of meat (21 grams of protein) = a deck of cards

Potassium and Phosphorus

Potassium and phosphorus may be listed on a label in milligrams or percent daily value (% DV). Potassium & phosphorus are not required to be on a label. If potassium and phosphorus are not listed, it does not mean that they are not in that food. Your needs are different when you have CKD. Most people with CKD need about 2000-2300 mg of potassium and 1000-1200 mg of phosphorus.
If percent daily values for potassium and phosphorus are listed, you can use them to help with your diet.


 Low PotassiumMediumHighVery high
mg per serving<100101-200201-300>300
% DV<33-66-9over 9


 Low PhosphorusMediumHigh
mg per serving<5051-150>150
% DV<55-15>15

Ask your dietitian about your potassium and phosphorus needs. Some foods with higher levels may be on your plan if they are good sources of protein.

If amounts or percent daily value for potassium and phosphorus are not listed on a food, you can also look at the ingredient list to identify high potassium or phosphorus ingredients. Ingredients are listed from highest to lowest quantity on a food label.

Ingredients to Limit or Avoid

Certain ingredients may tell you a product is higher in sodium, potassium or phosphorus such as:

Banana, cheese, chocolate, cocoa, coconut, cream, dried fruit, dried peas and beans, lentils, melon, milk, molasses, nuts, orange, peanut butter, potassium chloride, potato, raisins, dark rye flour, wheat or oat bran, whole wheat, disodium phosphate, phosphoric acid, hexametaphosphate, tri- calcium phosphate.

Pulling it All Together In general look for items with:

NutrientPercent Daily Value
Total FatUnder 20%
Saturated fatsUnder 10%
CholesterolUnder 7%
FiberOver 10%
SodiumUnder 6-10%
Potassium (if listed)Under 6%
Phosphorus (if listed)Under 5-15%

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