Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Dicalcium Phosphate Bad For You?

Also Known As: Calcium Monohydrogen Phosphate, Dibasic Calcium Phosphate



Short answer

Dicalcium phosphate (DCP) is a safe and versatile compound widely used as a leavening agent in baking, a stabilizer in food production, a dietary source of calcium and phosphorus, and an abrasive in toothpaste. In supplements, it supports bone health and is generally recognized as safe within recommended doses. However, overconsumption can lead to health issues such as hypercalcemia or hyperphosphatemia, especially in individuals with kidney disease. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.



Long answer

What is Dicalcium Phosphate and Its Common Uses

Dicalcium phosphate, often abbreviated as DCP, is a calcium salt made up of two calcium ions attached to one phosphate molecule. As an ingredient, it's known for being a leavening agent, a dietary supplement, and a stabilizer in foods and animal feeds. Chemically, it's considered a dibasic calcium phosphate, and it has a couple of hydrate forms which give it the versatility for various applications. Let's explore this compound and where you commonly encounter it.

In Food Production:

  • Leavening Agent: DCP acts as a raising agent in baking powders, helping your baked goods rise to the occasion—literally! The acid in the phosphate part of DCP reacts with basic ingredients, releasing carbon dioxide, which causes the dough or batter to expand.
  • Stabilizer and Anti-caking Agent: It helps maintain the texture and consistency of a variety of foods and prevents powdered products from clumping.
  • Supplemental Calcium Source: Calcium enrichment is vital in various food products—DCP fortifies cereals, enriched flour, and noodle products, among others, to help maintain bone health and prevent deficiency-related issues.

In Supplements:

  • DCP is a common ingredient in calcium-based dietary supplements. It's a reasonably cheap and easily absorbed form of calcium, which makes it a popular choice for maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis.

In Dentifrices:

  • DCP is not just found in your pantry or medicine cabinet; it's also in your bathroom! It's used as an abrasive in toothpaste, helping to remove plaque and leftover food from your teeth.

In Animal Feed:

  • Farm animals require a balanced diet, including mineral supplementation. Dicalcium phosphate is added to animal feed to increase the calcium and phosphorus content, ensuring that animals like cows, pigs, and poultry receive essential nutrients for bone development and overall health.

While dicalcium phosphate itself is generally regarded as safe when consumed within the recommended amounts, it's wise to be aware of its widespread uses. Stay informed about the ingredients in your food and supplements, and don't hesitate to reach for products with labels that respect transparency. In food additives and cooking ingredients, knowledge truly is the first ingredient.

It's essential to note that the safety and necessity of any additive, including DCP, depend on its application and the dosage. Research and experts indicate that while DCP is an effective source of calcium and phosphorus, it should be consumed in moderation. For instance, studies have looked into the bioavailability of calcium from various sources in supplements, with dicalcium phosphate showing positive results (source).

Nutritional Role of Dicalcium Phosphate as a Supplement

Dicalcium phosphate, often encountered by its chemical monikers—calcium hydrogen phosphate, calcium phosphate dibasic, or simply E341—is a mineral supplement utilized predominantly for its dual offering of calcium and phosphorus. Now, let's unravel the nutritional significance of this supplement and understand why it might be knocking at the door of your dietary repertoire.

Calcium Booster: First off, calcium is the celebrity mineral of bone health, stardom it shares with vitamin D for their synergistic roles. An adequate intake of calcium is paramount to stave off osteoporosis, bolster bone density, and ensure that our pearly whites remain firmly anchored. Calcium's reach extends beyond our skeletal frame, holding a stake in muscular functions, nerve signaling, and blood clotting.

Phosphorus Proponent: Phosphorus, the sidekick in dicalcium phosphate, is no less crucial. This mineral prances in the backdrop of bone and teeth fortification, but it doesn't end there. Phosphorus is an essential part of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the molecular 'currency' of energy transactions within our body. It's a constituent of cell membranes and required for the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

Dual Benefits: Given these roles, you might wonder, why not take these minerals separately? Well, the dicalcium phosphate combo delivers both minerals in a proportion often claimed to mirror the body's natural ratio, which could potentially favor absorption and utilization over single-mineral supplements.

Deficiency Addressal: Supplemental dicalcium phosphate is especially pertinent for individuals with dietary concerns or those at an elevated risk for deficiencies. Consider vegans, who might not partake in traditional calcium repositories—like dairy—or those with certain medical conditions limiting mineral absorption.

However, while dicalcium phosphate can be a valuable supplement, it's far from a panacea and must be consumed judiciously. Overconsumption of calcium, for instance, can lead to hypercalcemia—a calcium overdose unsettling cardiac rhythm and kidney stones choreography. Similarly, excess phosphorus is implicated in weakened bones contrarily—if kidneys can't keep up with the elimination cha-cha.

Regardless of its potential benefits, dicalcium phosphate is part of a larger nutritional ensemble and must harmonize with other dietary inputs and your unique health context. This includes considering any pre-existing conditions, medications, or dietary preferences that may shape your nutritional profile.

Experts advise assessing your individual needs, preferably with the guidance of a healthcare professional, before tapping into dicalcium phosphate supplements. The dosage, frequency, and necessity should be calculated as meticulously as the ingredients in your favorite recipe. Remember, the goal is not just to supplement but to sustain a symphony of well-rounded nutrition.

In summary, while the nutritional role of dicalcium phosphate as a supplement is significant, balance is the mantra. A discerning approach, paying heed to the body's daily requirements and avoiding overindulgence, can ensure that this mineral duo plays a harmonious tune in the concert of your wellbeing.

Potential Side Effects of Dicalcium Phosphate

Dicalcium phosphate is a commonly used ingredient in various dietary supplements and certain food products, known for its capacity to deliver calcium and phosphorus, two essential minerals for human health. While it is generally considered safe for consumption in restricted quantities, there are potential side effects that consumers should be aware of. These side effects might not affect everyone and often depend on individual health conditions, amounts consumed, and frequency of intake.

One noteworthy aspect to consider is that the overconsumption of calcium and phosphorus, especially in the form of supplements like dicalcium phosphate, can potentially lead to a range of health issues. It is important to highlight that the risks are typically associated with large amounts that exceed the recommended dietary allowances.

  • Hypercalcemia: Too much calcium in the bloodstream is termed hypercalcemia. This condition can cause various symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, and in severe cases, it can lead to confusion and cardiac rhythm disturbances.
  • Hyperphosphatemia: Excessive phosphorus levels, or hyperphosphatemia, might also occur with high intakes. Long-term high phosphorus intake can interfere with the body's ability to absorb other minerals, lead to muscle spasms, and contribute to an imbalance of minerals in the blood.
  • Renal Concerns: Individuals with pre-existing kidney conditions need to be particularly cautious. High levels of phosphorus can put additional strain on the kidneys, and in individuals with renal impairment, can exacerbate the progression of kidney disease.
  • Gastrointestinal Complaints: Some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating, constipation, or upset stomach. These issues are generally not severe but can cause noticeable discomfort.
  • Calcium-Phosphate Deposits: In rare cases, excessive calcium and phosphate may lead to the development of deposits in soft tissues, which is a condition known as calcification. This could potentially affect the function of various organs, including the kidneys and heart.

It is advisable that individuals with a history of calcium oxalate kidney stones approach calcium supplementation, including dicalcium phosphate, with caution. In these cases, high calcium intakes might contribute to the formation of more stones.

To prevent such side effects, it is essential to follow recommended dosages and consult healthcare professionals before starting any new supplement regimen, particularly if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications that could interact with calcium and phosphorus levels in your body.

Emerging research also points to potential concerns with long-term use of phosphate additives, and while dicalcium phosphate is often included in this category, the evidence linking this particular compound to adverse health outcomes is not as strong. A careful review of the ingredient's impact on human health, especially concerning heart health and bone integrity, continues to be a topic of interest.

Paying attention to the signs your body gives you and being aware of potential side effects are key steps in maintaining a balanced and healthy diet. Consuming a variety of food sources rich in calcium and phosphorus, rather than relying solely on supplements, is often recommended to reduce the risk of side effects while still meeting your nutritional needs.

Dicalcium Phosphate and Kidney Health Concerns

When considering the effects of dicalcium phosphate on the kidneys, it's essential to approach the subject with nuance. Dicalcium phosphate is often used as a dietary supplement and is found in some toothpaste formulations. It's a combination of calcium and phosphate, both of which are nutrients that play vital roles in your body, notably in bone health. However, it is also necessary to discern how this compound could impact kidney health specifically.

For the general population with healthy kidneys, consuming foods or supplements containing dicalcium phosphate within recommended amounts typically does not pose a significant threat to kidney function. However, those with pre-existing kidney conditions may need to be more cautious. The kidneys are responsible for filtering excess phosphates out of the blood, and a condition leading to impaired kidney function could result in phosphate build-up, potentially leading to health issues such as heart disease and bone disorders. Here are points to consider:

  • Phosphate Levels: Excess phosphate can lead to hyperphosphatemia, which is an elevated blood phosphate level. Studies indicate that this condition is associated with higher mortality rates among individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD).1
  • Calcium Balance: While calcium is crucial for health, its balance in the body is intricately connected with phosphate levels. If dicalcium phosphate consumption contributes to an imbalance, and there is excessive calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia), this could lead to vascular calcification, which is harmful to kidney health.2
  • Dosage and Source: It's important to distinguish between different sources of dicalcium phosphate. Food-grade dicalcium phosphate in foods and supplements is often considered safe when taken within the recommended limits. However, industrial-grade compounds found in non-food products or contaminated supplements should be avoided.
  • Interaction with Medication: Certain medications taken for kidney health can interact with phosphate supplements, potentially worsening kidney function. Always consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating any form of phosphate into a diet, especially for individuals with kidney concerns.3
  • Dietary Phosphate Additives: Phosphates are commonly added to processed foods as preservatives or to enhance texture. People with kidney issues are often advised to limit these additives in their diet to prevent excessive phosphate intake.

Given the potential risks, it is clear why individuals with kidney disease need to be vigilant about their intake of dicalcium phosphate. It is prudent for individuals with compromised kidney function to manage their phosphate intake under medical supervision, as recommended by Nephrology experts. Dietary management, including the control of phosphate levels in the diet, is a crucial aspect of care for individuals with CKD or on dialysis.4

In conclusion, while dicalcium phosphate is not inherently bad for the kidneys in healthy individuals, those with existing kidney conditions should exercise caution. Regular check-ups and discussions with a healthcare provider are key in managing the dietary intake of all nutrients, including phosphate, to maintain optimal kidney health. Always pay keen attention to your body's reactions to supplements and adjust your dietary choices accordingly, aiming for the blissful balance that keeps your kidneys functioning robustly.


  1. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, "Hyperphosphatemia and Mortality in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease", 2016.
  2. The National Kidney Foundation, "Hypercalcemia", 2021.
  3. Kidney International Supplements, "Clinical Guide to Phosphate Control in CKD", 2019.
  4. Clinical Kidney Journal, "Dietary phosphate restriction in CKD: what is known and what needs to be known", 2015.

Assessment of Safety Levels and Regulatory Standards

Understanding the safety levels and regulatory standards of food additives is crucial for consumers seeking to make informed decisions about their diets. Dicalcium phosphate, a common food additive, has been the subject of numerous studies and evaluations by various health and food safety authorities. Let's delve into the details to assess its safety levels and the standards set by regulatory bodies.

First and foremost, it's important to recognize the function of dicalcium phosphate in foods and supplements. It is frequently used as a leavening agent, a calcium supplement in fortified foods, and in some cases, as a tablet binder in the pharmaceutical industry. The versatility of dicalcium phosphate means it can appear in a wide range of products, making the assessment of its safety levels critical.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States classifies dicalcium phosphate as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). The GRAS status implies that the additive has been shown to be safe when used in accordance with good manufacturing practices. However, GRAS status does not mean that the substance can be consumed in unlimited quantities. It should be used within the acceptable daily intake (ADI) levels established by experts.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also evaluates the safety of food additives within the European Union. The EFSA has determined that dicalcium phosphate is safe for consumption as a food additive, provided the levels do not exceed certain limits.

In their evaluations, both the FDA and the EFSA consider numerous studies and rigorous scientific evidence. They may evaluate animal studies, clinical trials in humans, and in vitro research to determine safe levels of consumption. Studies that assess the bioavailability of minerals from dicalcium phosphate help determine if the additive has any potential negative effects on mineral absorption or overall health.

Despite these safety assurances, it's also beneficial to be aware of the specific application of dicalcium phosphate in various products. Overconsumption of any additive can lead to potential health risks, and in the case of dicalcium phosphate, excessive intake may raise concerns about imbalances in calcium and phosphate levels in the body, potentially affecting renal function and bone health.

To summarize, both the FDA and EFSA have established guidelines and upper limits for the safe consumption of dicalcium phosphate:

  • The additive should only be used in amounts that are necessary to achieve its intended purpose in food and supplement products.
  • Manufacturers are expected to adhere to these regulatory standards and conduct regular testing to ensure their products stay within the safe consumption limits.
  • Consumers should consider their total dietary intake of calcium and phosphates from all sources, including dicalcium phosphate in fortified foods and supplements, to avoid potential health issues associated with overconsumption.

Being aware of and understanding these safety levels and regulatory standards can help consumers make more informed choices and maintain a balanced and healthy diet. For further information and specific data on the acceptable levels of dicalcium phosphate, individuals are encouraged to consult the detailed resources provided by the FDA and EFSA or talk to a healthcare provider. A dietitian or nutritionist can also offer personalized advice based on individual health needs and dietary habits.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, dicalcium phosphate can be used in vegetarian and vegan products as it does not inherently contain any animal-derived ingredients. However, vegans may want to verify that the source of dicalcium phosphate in their products is not from animal bones, which can sometimes be used in its production.

Natural sources of calcium and phosphorus, such as dairy products, fish, nuts, and seeds, may offer nutritional advantages as they contain a balance of additional minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. They also come without the potential risks associated with excessive consumption of supplements and are part of a diverse diet that supports overall health.

Dicalcium phosphate can be derived from natural sources such as mineral rock, but it is often synthetically produced for food and supplement use through chemical reactions involving phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide. In either case, the quality and purity of the final product are strictly regulated to meet food safety standards.

Dicalcium phosphate acts as a mild abrasive in toothpaste which helps in removing plaque and surface stains from teeth. It is considered safe for dental use and is effective at helping to maintain oral hygiene without causing harm to the tooth enamel when used properly.

Ask a question about Dicalcium Phosphate and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • confusion
  • cardiac rhythm disturbances
  • muscle spasms
  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • constipation
  • upset stomach

Possible long-term side effects

  • hypercalcemia
  • hyperphosphatemia
  • renal impairment
  • vascular calcification
  • calcium-phosphate deposits in soft tissues

Commonly found in

  • baking powders
  • enriched flour
  • toothpaste
  • animal feed
  • dietary supplements

Ingredients to be aware of


  • source of calcium and phosphorus
  • supports bone and dental health
  • involved in energy metabolism and cellular functions
  • may improve bone density

Healthier alternatives

  • varied diet rich in calcium and phosphorus

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Rachel Adams
Published on: 12-12-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Rachel Adams
Published on: 12-12-2023

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