Tricalcium phosphate is a calcium salt found in many nutritional supplements. Many people wonder about the safety of tricalcium phosphate, including side effects and whether it can cause cancer.

If they don't get enough calcium from their diet alone, some people take supplements containing tricalcium phosphate to supplement their daily calcium intake. However, tricalcium phosphate is a concentrated source of calcium, and taking too much can cause high calcium levels or hypercalcemia.

High levels of calcium can cause:

  • constipate
  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • stomachache
  • Muscle pain
  • weakness
  • Excessive urination

It can also cause dehydration, fatigue, loss of appetite, thirst and confusion. Side effects may also occur if a person does not take them correctly, takes certain medications, or has certain medical conditions.

What it is and its uses

Some calcium phosphates come from phosphate rocks, calcium from plant sources, and ammonia.

These can be considered vegetarian. Most often, however, calcium phosphate is made from ground animal bones.

Calcium phosphate aids cell function and plays an important role in many different body processes, including bone growth and energy production.

Tricalcium phosphate is an effective nutritional supplement because it is easily absorbed by the body. However, there is little evidence that it is more effective than other calcium supplements, especially those containing citrate and carbonate

Tricalcium phosphate has many other uses. It is found in many household products, including baby powder, toothpaste and antacids. Tricalcium phosphate is used in many industries. For example, the biomedical sector uses tricalcium phosphate to make cement or composites to repair bones

What are the health risks?

Taking tricalcium phosphate may have a range of risks.


One of the health risks of tricalcium phosphate is taking too much and causing hypercalcemia. Most of the time, symptoms of high calcium levels are mild, but emergencies do occur, although they are rare.

However, it is important to note that someone must be taking large amounts of tricalcium phosphate or have certain medical conditions to develop hypercalcemia.

The Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine reported the case of an 80-year-old man who presented to the emergency room with signs of hypercalcemia, including:

  • constipate
  • Loss of appetite
  • dry mouth
  • Puzzled

Most of his blood tests were normal, but his total serum calcium level was higher than it should be, at 14.4 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). A healthy range is about 8.6 to 10.0 mg/dL.

The 80-year-old suffered from multiple medical conditions, including diabetes, hypothyroidism and hepatitis C, which may have contributed to his hypercalcemia.

kidney stones

Taking tricalcium phosphate may also increase your risk of kidney stones. A report from Oregon State University suggests that women who take calcium supplements and multivitamin supplements have a higher risk of kidney stones, although the overall evidence is conflicting.

cardiovascular problems

Several studies have reported an increased risk of cardiovascular events in people who take calcium supplements. A report in the magazine, Australian Prescribers , found that calcium supplements may increase women's risk of heart attack by about 25% and their chances of stroke by 20%.

However, most researchers believe that the positive effects of calcium supplements on bone health and reduced fracture risk outweigh the increased cardiovascular risk. The National Osteoporosis Foundation and the American College of Preventive Cardiology determine that as long as people do not exceed daily recommended amounts , calcium is considered safe

Tricalcium phosphate and kidney disease

For people with kidney disease, tricalcium phosphate is not a good choice.

When a person has kidney disease, their kidneys cannot remove phosphorus effectively.

This is important because high levels of phosphorus can affect calcium levels in the body, sometimes causing bones to become brittle and weak. High levels of phosphorus can also cause calcium to enter the blood vessels, lungs, eyes, and heart.

Anyone with kidney disease or limited kidney function should talk to a doctor about the best ways to keep calcium levels healthy without further damaging the kidneys and other organs.

It's also important for people with kidney problems to know how much phosphorus they consume and where they get it. For people with limited kidney function, a typical low-phosphorus diet should not exceed 1,000 milligrams (mg) of phosphorus per day.

Tricalcium phosphate and cancer risk

Researchers believe that a diet rich in inorganic phosphates, the most common additive in processed foods such as meat and cheese, stimulates the growth of small cell cancer.

A study from the American Thoracic Society that looked at mouse models reported that these phosphates in the diet can accelerate the growth of lung cancer tumors and promote tumor development in people who have an increased risk of lung cancer.

Other studies have found links between inorganic phosphates and the development of several cancer types.

A Swedish study reports BMC CancerTrusted Source measured serum inorganic phosphate (Pi) levels in people aged 20 or older to assess cancer risk. Swedish researchers found that increasing Pi levels increased the risk of cancer in men, while in women, low levels of Pi were associated with a higher risk of certain cancers.


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