What Is Tricalcium Phosphate?

Tricalcium phosphate is a supplement form of calcium phosphate and is used to treat or prevent calcium deficiency. Calcium is primarily important for healthy bones and teeth. Calcium is naturally found in foods like dairy, nuts and seeds, and dark, leafy vegetables.

In addition to its use as a supplement, tricalcium phosphate is used as an anti-caking agent in powdered food items. It is also used as an additive in some processed foods to boost calcium content.

Tricalcium phosphate is considered safe to use as a food additive and supplement, but there are some people in whom it has contraindications, and there can be interactions and side effects.

Also Known As

Other names include:

  • Tribasic calcium phosphate
  • Bone phosphate of lime
  • Calcium phosphate
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What Is Tricalcium Phosphate Used For?

Calcium is stored primarily in the body’s bones and teeth. Calcium is important in children and adolescents who require it for bone growth and development. Adults also need calcium to maintain strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Calcium is most readily absorbed through foods that are naturally high in calcium. Sometimes people who have lactose intolerance or who are vegan may not get enough calcium through their diets. 

Signs of calcium deficiency may include:

  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Memory difficulty
  • Brittle nails and bones

In post-menopausal people, when bone-breakdown occurs faster than new bone is generated, adequate calcium is especially important in preventing osteoporosis.

Possible Side Effects 

Supplementing with tricalcium phosphate is generally considered safe, but there are some risks and precautions. Sometimes tricalcium phosphate may cause certain side effects, such as:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Decreased appetite

Contraindications

People who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those with certain health conditions, like kidney stones or parathyroid gland disorder should talk to their healthcare providers before taking tricalcium phosphate.

Tricalcium phosphate can make it more difficult for your body to absorb other medications. If you currently take medications, you should discuss how they may interact with tricalcium phosphate. 

Some medications that may be contraindicated include, but are not limited to:

  • Medications used to treat heart failure 
  • Antacids 
  • Vitamin D supplements 
  • Certain antibiotics

Dosage and Preparation 

Calcium is abundantly found in many common foods, like dairy products and green, leafy vegetables. Most people will find sufficient calcium by eating a well-balanced diet.

Foods naturally high in calcium include:

  • Dairy products, like milk, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and yogurt
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Soy products, such as soy milk and tofu
  • Fish, like salmon and sardines
  • Green vegetables, like broccoli, kale, spinach, and turnip greens

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium is stated in milligrams (mg) per day. It varies by age and whether someone is post-menopausal:

  • Infants (0-6 months) need 200 mg/day
  • Infants (7-12 months) need 260 mg/day
  • Toddlers (1-3 years) need 700 mg/day
  • Children (4-8 years) need 1,000 mg/day
  • Children and teens (9-18 years) need 1,300 mg/day
  • Adults (19-50 years) need 1,000 mg/day
  • Post-menopausal adults (51-70 years) need 1,200 mg/day
  • Adults over 70 years need 1,200 mg/day

If you are considering supplementing with tricalcium phosphate, remember that you will still receive calcium in the food you already eat. You may want to talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to determine which dosage is right for you.

What to Look For 

Calcium phosphate is generally recognized as safe when used in accordance with good manufacturing practice.

Tricalcium phosphate is best taken with food and a full glass of water. Store this supplement at room temperature, away from moisture and heat.

Calcium supplements come in a variety of forms. In addition to tricalcium phosphate, you’ll find:

Some calcium supplements are combined with other vitamins and minerals. Commonly, they are combined with vitamin D or magnesium. Be sure to read the labels carefully to see whether the supplement you are considering contains other nutrients.

Tricalcium phosphate is vegan unless it was derived from dolomite, oyster shell, or bone meal. In addition to not being vegan, supplements made from those ingredients may contain high levels of lead and other metals.

Read the label carefully, especially if you have allergies or sensitivities, to determine the source of the ingredients and whether the supplement you are considering is free of allergens.

Be wary of supplements that make unsubstantiated claims. No supplement should make claims that they can treat, cure, or prevent diseases.

Supplementing with tricalcium phosphate may be important for some people. Remember, it is best to obtain calcium from food sources, like dairy products, green vegetables, soy, and fish, if possible. Calcium is absorbed better from food sources than from supplements.

Common Questions

Is tricalcium phosphate bad for you?

Tricalcium phosphate is a common additive in foods and it is also used as a nutritional supplement. It is considered safe for human consumption. 

People who are considering using tricalcium phosphate should discuss it with their healthcare provider. Certain medical conditions are contraindicated. If you have kidney stones or kidney disease or have parathyroid gland disorder, you may not be able to take tricalcium phosphate. 

Some medications and supplements should not be taken with tricalcium phosphate. Antacids, certain heart medications, some antibiotics, and vitamin D supplements are contraindicated.

How does tricalcium phosphate compare to other calcium supplements?

Elemental calcium is the amount of calcium released during digestion that becomes available for absorption. Calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate have the highest concentration of elemental calcium at 40%. Calcium citrate comes in next at 21%, calcium lactate at 13%, and calcium gluconate at 9%.

Determining which form of calcium supplement is right for you is best determined in partnership with your healthcare provider. Be sure to discuss your diet, existing health conditions, and medications as you evaluate tricalcium phosphate. The best way to get adequate calcium is by consuming calcium-containing foods. 

A Word From Verywell

Tricalcium phosphate is a common food additive and it is also used as a nutritional supplement. People who do not get adequate calcium through food sources may decide to take a calcium supplement, like tricalcium phosphate, but calcium is best absorbed when consumed through food. Be sure to discuss any supplements and your individual needs with your healthcare provider.

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