What is potassium phosphate used for?


Potassium phosphate

Generic Name: potassium phosphate (poe TASS ee um FOSS fate)
Brand Name: Neutra-Phos-K

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on May 2, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

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What is potassium phosphate?

Phosphorus is a naturally occurring substance that is important in every cell of the body. Phosphorous is contained in all body cells and is used for growth and repair of cells and tissues.

Potassium phosphate is used to treat or prevent hypophosphatemia (low blood levels of phosphorus). Potassium phosphate is sometimes added to intravenous (IV) fluids given to people who cannot eat or drink anything.

Potassium phosphate and sodium phosphate may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not use potassium phosphate if you have low levels of calcium, or high levels of potassium or phosphorus in your body.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use potassium phosphate if you have:

  • high levels of potassium in your blood (hyperkalemia);

  • low levels of calcium in your blood (hypocalcemia); or

  • high levels of phosphorus in your blood (hyperphosphatemia).

To make sure potassium phosphate is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • heart disease;

  • kidney disease; or

  • Addison’s disease (an adrenal gland disorder).

It is not known whether potassium phosphate will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It is not known whether potassium phosphate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Potassium phosphate and sodium phosphate should not be given to a child younger than 4 years old without a doctor’s advice.

How is potassium phosphate given?

Potassium phosphate is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Potassium phosphate must be mixed with a liquid (diluent) before using it. If you are using the injections at home, be sure you understand how to properly mix and store the medicine.

Potassium phosphate must be given slowly.

While using this medicine, you may need frequent blood or urine tests.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking potassium phosphate?

Ask your doctor before using an antacid, and use only the type your doctor recommends. Some antacids can make it harder for your body to absorb potassium phosphate and sodium phosphate.

Avoid taking a vitamin or mineral supplement that contains calcium or vitamin D, unless your doctor tells you to.

Do not use potassium supplements or salt substitutes while you are taking potassium phosphate and sodium phosphate, unless your doctor has told you to.

Potassium phosphate side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregivers right away if you have any signs of electrolyte imbalance, such as:

  • numbness or tingly feeling around your mouth;

  • fast or slow heart rate;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • muscle tightness or contraction, overactive reflexes;

  • weakness or loss of movement in any part of your body;

  • slow or unusual heart rate;

  • nausea, confusion, weakness; or

  • numbness or tingling in your arms or legs.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Potassium phosphate dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Hypophosphatemia:

Hypophosphatemia: Dose and rate of administration are dependent on individual patient needs
Total parenteral nutrition: 12 to 15 millimolar phosphorous is recommended for each 500 mL 50% dextrose injection
-Keep in mind the amount of potassium being infused; monitor serum potassium and/or electrocardiographic changes as needed

-Must be diluted before administration.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Hypophosphatemia:

Hypophosphatemia: Dose and rate of administration are dependent on individual patient needs
Infants receiving total parenteral nutrition: 1.5 to 2 millimolar phosphorous/kg/day
-Keep in mind the amount of potassium being infused; monitor serum potassium and/or electrocardiographic changes as needed

-Must be diluted before administration.

What other drugs will affect potassium phosphate?

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

  • digoxin, digitalis; or

  • a diuretic or “water pill” (especially amiloride, eplerenone, spironolactone, or triamterene).

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with potassium phosphate, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 1.01.

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More about potassium phosphate

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Consumer resources

  • Potassium Phosphate Injection
  • Potassium phosphate Intravenous (Advanced Reading)

Professional resources

  • Potassium Phosphate (Wolters Kluwer)
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Related treatment guides

  • Constipation
  • Dietary Supplementation
  • Hypophosphatemia

Potassium phosphate; Sodium Phosphate oral tablet

What is this medicine?

Potassium phosphate; sodium phosphate (poe Tass i um FOS fate; SOE dee um FOS fate) is used to increase phosphorus in the body. It is used for people who are not getting enough phosphorus from their diet or who need increased amounts.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): K-Phos M.F., K-Phos No 2, Uro-Kp-Neutral

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • Addison’s disease

  • dehydration

  • heart disease

  • high levels of phosphate in the blood

  • kidney disease

  • phosphate kidney stones

  • sodium-restricted diet

  • an unusual or allergic reaction to phosphorus salts, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives

  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant

  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

Take this medicine by mouth with a full glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take it more often than directed. Do not stop taking except on your doctor’s advice.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be prescribed for children as young as 5 years for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:

  • sevelamer

This medicine may also interact with the following medications:

  • antacids containing aluminum, magnesium, or calcium

  • calcium supplements

  • cyclosporine

  • diuretics

  • eplerenone

  • iron supplements

  • magnesium supplements

  • medicines for blood pressure like captopril, enalapril, lisinopril

  • potassium supplements, salt substitutes, or low-salt milk

  • vitamin D supplements

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your health care professional for regular checks on your progress. Your doctor may order blood work while you are taking this medicine.

You may pass a kidney stone after starting this medicine. Contact your doctor if you have new or unusual symptoms.

You may have diarrhea after starting this medicine. Contact your doctor if it continues or gets worse.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

  • breathing problems

  • confusion

  • fast, irregular heartbeat

  • feeling faint or lightheaded, falls

  • muscle cramps

  • tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet

  • unusually weak or tired

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • diarrhea

  • headache

  • nausea, vomiting

  • stomach pain

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F). Protect from light. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

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This step can require anywhere from 1-4 weeks to stabilize the levels of bicarbonate secretions.

There are 3 categories of supplements that can help in stabilizing the alkalizing capacity

  1. Direct alkalizers – when ingested, these minerals immediately neutralize gastric acids without a significant involvement of metabolic processes. These are similar to antacids and should only be used on per-needed basis.
  2. Intermediate alkalizers – these nutrients converted metabolically to bicarbonates that are functionally applied to neutralize the acids in the blood, urine and stomach.
  3. Nutritional boosters – these nutrients consist of minerals, vitamins and amino acids that are required to replenish the depleted nutritional stores that are required for the proper function of the digestive function and systemic pH balancing. Most of the nutrients should come from the diet because the natural biochemical composition of foods allows the nutrients to be properly assimilated. However, since the digestion may be impaired, increasing the consumption of the selective nutrients may be warranted to achieve a desired nutritional balance.

1. Direct alkalizers are useful in beginning stages of therapy to help to quickly increase the body pH when the acidity needs to be immediately addressed. These can be used 2-3 hours after a meal and 1 hour before a meal. These bicarbonates can be used on as needed basis if the symptoms of acid reflux are bothersome.

  • Potassium bicarbonate – is a better option for avoiding increase of sodium levels and those with normal/high blood pressure
  • Sodium bicarbonate – is an option for those with low blood pressure and low sodium diets.

2. Intermediate alkalizers help reduce the body’s usage of its mineral stores to neutralize the acids in the stomach and body fluids thus stopping excessive mineral depletion.

  • Potassium citrate is a mineral that is rapidly absorbed when taken by mouth while excess is excreted in urine. Potassium citrate is great in the way that it gives the body an intermediate element to be converted on-demand by liver to bicarbonate to neutralize the stomach acids immediately post digestion. It also indirectly decreases blood pressure* and the acidity of urine while reducing any urinary tract irritation that may cause frequent urination.
    Usage: Should be taken with meals containing acidic foods or following exercise.
    Dosage: Potassium citrate should be taken 5 minutes before each meal. Start with 99mg per meal for 2-3 days and measure urine pH levels 1-s hours after a each meal. Raise the dosage if necessary up to 500mg per meal until the urine pH reaches pH 7.0 1-2 hours after a meal. Dosages should be raised every few days as changes will be gradual. As the body recovers its minerals, you will need to gradually reduce the dosages 1-2 months later and eventually stop supplementation when urine levels are at pH >7.0 without supplementation.

    * If your blood pressure becomes too low from supplementation of potassium, you can combine potassium citrate with sodium bicarbonate in 1:1 ratio so that the total amount of both equals the original amount of potassium citrate.

  • Tri-Salts such as those containing Calcium (carbonate), Magnesium (carbonate) and Potassium (bicarbonate). The Tri-Salts are immediate buffers that quickly neutralize excessive acids without the need to be converted by the liver.
    Usage: Should be taken at least 1.5 hours after a meal and before bed on an empty stomach. Do not take with meals or immediately after as it will reduce the stomach acid during a digestion process.
    Dosage: Start with 1000mg 1.5 hours after each large meal for a couple of days and measure the urine first thing in the morning. Increase the dosage slowly over a week period up to 2500mg until the morning and evening urine is between pH 7.0 and 7.5. You will need to gradually reduce the Tri-Salts supplementation over the next 1-2 months as your body recovers its mineral status.

3. Nutritional boosters can help to speed up the recovery of the nutritional deficiencies.

Below, are three of the most common mineral supplements that ultimately should be rotated every 24 hours. If budget is limited, mineral drops would be the first to start with. If you are moderately depleted in minerals, you may initially experience mild symptoms when starting mineral replenishment. If the symptoms make you very uncomfortable, discontinue mineral drops and try coral calcium. Otherwise, you will eventually rebuild your mineral stores via a mineral rich diet.

  • Regular swimming in ocean
  • Transdermal mineral oils
  • Mineral drops such as water-soluble colloidal minerals derived from deposits of prehistoric plants in Utah.
    Usage: The recommended dosage should be divided and taken before each meal with the last dose taken at least 6 hours before bed to prevent a possible insomnia from mineral rebalancing.
  • Calcium is a major component of acid reduction mechanism. Coral calcium is an excellent way of calcium supplementation which also contains over 70 essential minerals. Coral calcium powder can be diluted in half glass of water and taken before bed and at least 1 hour after the last meal. It also helps relax and have a deeper sleep
    Usage: Taken at bed time, at least 1 hour away from the last meal.
    Dosage: As provided by manufacturer. Consideration should be given if other mineral supplements are used.
  • Fulvic acid enhances remineralization and cellular oxygenation. It dissolves the minerals helping to transport them into the cells while catalyzing enzyme activity. Consider fulvic acid complexes that contain a full spectrum of minerals in place of mineral drops. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you start with mineral drops first to test your tolerance to a full spectrum mineral supplementation, since fulvic acid dramatically enhances utilization of minerals on the cellular level.
    Usage: The recommended dosage should be divided and taken before each meal. The last dose should be taken 6+ hours away from the bed time.

Other essential alkalizing supplements

These are optional supplements that can be used to compensate for any existing deficiencies.

  • Full spectrum probiotics
  • Vitamins A, Buffered C, D , E, B1
  • 2,000 to 5,000 iu to achieve an optimal Vitamin D3. The researcher, Sonia Talwar, reported that the a dose of 800 iu raised 25(OH)D levels from a baseline average of 47 nmol/L to 71.4 nmol/L after three months.
  • Magnesium
  • Boron
  • Chlorella, chlorophyll

Sodium phosphate Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 28, 2019.

  • Overview
  • Side Effects
  • Interactions
  • Breastfeeding
  • Pricing
  • More

Applies to sodium phosphate: intravenous solution

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of fluid and electrolyte problems like mood changes, confusion, muscle pain or weakness, a heartbeat that does not feel normal, very bad dizziness or passing out, fast heartbeat, more thirst, seizures, feeling very tired or weak, not hungry, unable to pass urine or change in the amount of urine produced, dry mouth, dry eyes, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Chest pain or pressure.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.

Medical Disclaimer

More about sodium phosphate

  • Breastfeeding
  • Imprints, Shape & Color Data
  • Drug Interactions
  • Pricing & Coupons
  • Drug class: laxatives
  • FDA Alerts (2)
  • Sodium Phosphates Injection
  • Hypophosphatemia

SIDE EFFECTS: Nausea, vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain or bloating, dizziness, and headache may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.Persistent diarrhea or vomiting may result in a serious loss of body water (dehydration) and minerals. This may cause serious side effects to the kidneys and heart. Contact your doctor promptly if you notice any symptoms of dehydration, such as unusual decreased urination, unusual dry mouth/increased thirst, lack of tears, dizziness/lightheadedness, muscle weakness/cramping, or pale/wrinkled skin.Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: severe or persistent stomach/abdominal pain, black/bloody stools, rectal bleeding, mental/mood changes (such as confusion, unusual drowsiness).Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: fast/irregular heartbeat, chest pain, fainting, seizures.A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.In the US -Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.In Canada – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

PRECAUTIONS: See also How to Use section.Before taking sodium phosphate, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: heart problems (such as heart failure, irregular heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG, chest pain, heart attack or heart surgery within the last 3 months), stomach/bowel problems (such as blockage, irritable bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, severe constipation), gastric bypass/stapling, low blood minerals, severe loss of body water (dehydration), kidney problems, liver problems (such as cirrhosis, fluid build-up in the abdomen), salt restricted diet, daily alcohol or sedative use, seizure problem, swallowing problems (such as narrowing of the swallowing tube/esophagus).Before having surgery, tell your doctors or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).Caution is advised when using this drug in older adults because they may be more sensitive to the effects of the drug, especially kidney problems, dehydration, severe dizziness, fainting, and fast/irregular heartbeat.During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.


Heart Disease: Causes of a Heart Attack See Slideshow

Dipotassium Phosphate is the perfect supplement for anyone looking to improve stamina and endurance, but what is it and how can it help? Our expert advisor is here to guide you.

  • What is dipotassium phosphate?
  • What is dipotassium phosphate used for?
  • Benefits of dipotassium phosphate
  • How to take dipotassium phosphate
  • Dipotassium phosphate side effects

What is dipotassium phosphate?

If dipotassium phosphate (DKP) is new to you, there is still a good chance that you might have been making it a part of your diet without realizing – that is, if you haven’t been paying close attention to the list of ingredients on the back of foods in your shopping basket.

Dipotassium phosphate is a water-soluble salt that you may have purchased in the commercial form of a food additive, a fertilizer, and also a buffering agent in manufactured foods. On its own, it looks like a colorless, white substance, which, for the health and fitness minded people out there, is notably an awesome source of potassium and phosphorus. It plays a mega role in your body’s production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a high-energy molecule that your body requires for energy.

The name is just about self-explanatory – though we might also note that it goes under the title of dibasic potassium phosphate, potassium phosphate dibasic, dipotassium hydrogen orthophosphate and dipotassium hydrogen phosphate. The ‘phosphate’ half of its name is phosphate, the charged particle that contains the mineral phosphorus. Phosphorus is highly important in your body for supporting the maintenance, repair and rebuilding of healthy teeth and bones. In the context of muscular performance, phosphate is essential in their normal function and how effectively they contract.

What is dipotassium phosphate used for?

In health supplements, dipotassium phosphate is used for its health benefits, which we’ll get to shortly, as a nutrient supplement and also as a protein stabilizer in weight training drinks and powder mixes. Dipotassium phosphate is commonly used as an emulsifier, stabilizer and texturizer.

In the food industry, it is utilized as an effective a buffering agent and chelating agent, which may also be used for yeast food, emulsifying salt, and a synergistic agent of antioxidation.

You will also find dipotassium phosphate, or one of its many aliases, on health supplements and shop packaging due to its use as a food additive. In food, it is used to lower the acid levels in processed goods, and also lowers the sodium levels in low-sodium cheeses. It is also used as a stabilizer in non-dairy creamers to prevent coagulation.

Benefits of taking dipotassium phosphate

The foremost benefit of dipotassium phosphate is the fact it is a quick and convenient source of potassium. Potassium, of course, is incredibly important for your health and sporting performance. Potassium is one of the seven essential macro minerals, of which your body requires at least 100 milligrams on a daily basis in order to sufficiently support its key processes.

A healthy intake of potassium decreases your risk of stroke, lowers your blood pressure, protects you against the loss of muscle mass, preserves your bone mineral density, and reduces the risk of kidney stones. Along with the aforementioned contribution to normal muscle function, weightlifters, bodybuilders and fitness-minded folk can benefit from dipotassium phosphate as an energy supplement. This tends to apply, in particular, to anyone engaged in a training session that is a minimum of 30 minutes long without rests. This means team sports, long-distance running and circuits, high-intensity interval training and endurance orientated weight lifting workouts.

Dipotassium phosphate supplementation is beneficial in supporting the recovery of your muscles. As a result, improving your endurance capabilities it essentially means that you will be able to recover faster between burst of energy usage and have the faculty to engage in more lifts when bodybuilding.

Of equal importance is its ability to assist in the process of transporting oxygen around your body – namely, in the context of working out, to your muscles. This is particularly effective for high intensity and strenuous exercises such as heavy lifting and sprints.

How to take dipotassium phosphate

Dipotassium phosphate, as a supplement, is best consumed on an empty stomach. We recommend using accurate scales or measures to ensure even dosages, adding 1 gram to fruit juice, whey or water and taken four times a day.

Side effects of dipotassium phosphate

Dipotassium phosphate is declared “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is material available, however, that may raise an eyebrow to suggest that is use may be considered with an element of caution for people with pre-existing health conditions. Conditions of concern include kidney disease, severe heart and lung disease, thyroid problems, liver disease and Addison’s disease.

Though dipotassium phosphate is regarded as a safe supplement, there are some known side effects, which are mostly associated with prolonged use. This is because using the supplement over a longer period can cause an imbalance to the phosphates in your body, resulting in the following side effects:

  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Arterial stiffening
  • Confusion
  • Hyperphosphatemia
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Phosphorus overload

The report – published in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International ​– selectively reviewed research documenting the links between excessive phosphate and elevated risks of ill health and mortality – calling for a ‘traffic-light’ labelling system to be introduced for foods containing phosphate additives.

The researchers, led by Professor Eberhard Ritz of Nierenzentrum Heidelberg, Germany, reported that elevated serum phosphate concentrations have been found to be correlated with mortality in people with chronic renal failure, while high levels of phosphates in healthy people have been correlated with cardiovascular disease.

Ritz and his colleagues said they believe that “the ​public should be informed that added phosphate is damaging to health.” ​

“Furthermore, calls for labelling the content of added phosphate in food are appropriate,”​ they added.


Natural (organic) phosphate esters are found mainly in protein-rich foods, including dairy products, fish, meat, sausages, and eggs. Ritz and his team explained that these compounds are slowly broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and then slowly resorbed from the intestine.

“About 40% to 60% of the organic phosphate esters consumed in the diet are resorbed,”​ they said.

However, they noted that the phosphate content of industrially processed food is much higher than that of natural food, because polyphosphates are commonly used as an additive in industrial food production. Such ingredients can legally be added to food as preservatives, acidifying agents, acidity buffers, and emulsifying agents, whilst phosphate salts are also used in foods to intensify flavours, they said.


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Beyond providing Skin Deep® as an educational tool for consumers, EWG offers its EWG VERIFIED™ mark as a quick and easily identifiable way of conveying personal care products that meet EWG’s strict health criteria. Before a company can use EWG VERIFIED™ on such products, the company must show that it fully discloses the products’ ingredients on their labels or packaging, they do not contain EWG ingredients of concern, and are made with good manufacturing practices, among other criteria. Note that EWG receives licensing fees from all EWG VERIFIED™ member companies that help to support the important work we do. Learn more | Legal Disclaimer

Is Trisodium Phosphate in Food Bad for You? Facts vs Myths

While consuming too much sodium phosphate is not good for anyone’s health, small amounts of it are considered safe.

Nevertheless, people with certain medical conditions should avoid foods that contain sodium phosphate additives like trisodium phosphate.

People With Kidney Disease or Kidney Failure

When the kidneys are healthy and functioning normally, they filter out waste products from the blood, including excess phosphorus.

However, when the kidneys are compromised, such as in those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or kidney failure, they lose the ability to properly excrete waste products.

People with kidney failure and advanced CKD need to limit the amount of phosphorus they consume to avoid high blood levels of phosphorus.

Consuming too much phosphorus can further harm already compromised kidneys by damaging blood vessels and causing abnormal calcium buildup (8).

In fact, higher phosphorus intake is linked to an increased risk of death in people with kidney failure on hemodialysis, a blood purification treatment (9).

Those With Osteoporosis and Osteopenia

A diet high in foods that contain sodium phosphate additives may harm bone health.

Maintaining normal levels of phosphorus in the body is essential for strong bones.

However, disturbing this delicate balance by consuming too much or too little phosphorus can wreak havoc on the skeletal system.

For example, a study found that consuming a diet rich in sodium phosphate food additives increased fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23), an inhibitor of bone mineralization, by 23%, compared to an identical diet low in phosphate additives (10).

Another study in 147 premenopausal women demonstrated that a habitual high intake of foods containing phosphate additives led to high levels of parathyroid hormone, a hormone that regulates calcium levels throughout the body (11).

Parathyroid hormone signals the body to release calcium from the bones to balance body calcium levels.

Having abnormally high levels of parathyroid hormone can harm bone health by causing excess calcium loss from the bones (12).

People With Heart Conditions

Your heart can also be harmed by excess consumption of sodium phosphate additives.

In fact, high circulating phosphorus levels have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease in people with and without kidney disease.

Having too much phosphorus in the body can damage the heart by causing the calcification of blood vessels.

A large study in 3,015 young adults found that higher blood levels of phosphate were associated with increased coronary artery calcification and other heart disease risk factors.

Additionally, participants who had serum phosphate levels greater than 3.9 mg/dL had a 52% greater risk of coronary artery calcification 15 years later, compared to those with levels below 3.3 mg/dL (13).

Those Who Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease

High intake of inorganic phosphorus has been shown to worsen intestinal inflammation in animal studies.

Studies in both humans and rats have found that elevated phosphorus can cause inflammation in the body (14, 15).

Inflammation is at the root of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are collectively referred to as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD.

A recent animal study suggests that a diet high in inorganic phosphate could exacerbate symptoms associated with IBD.

Rats fed a diet high in phosphate had more inflammatory markers, intestinal inflammation and symptoms like bloody stool, compared to rats that were fed a low-phosphate diet (16).

Summary Although everyone should limit their intake of foods containing sodium phosphate additives, those with heart conditions, kidney disease or bone issues should do their best to avoid foods containing it.

Is Trisodium Phosphate in Food Really a Paint Thinner?

There may be some health risks associated with consuming high amounts of phosphate additives, which are abundant in the food supply. But despite what some websites would have you believe, there is nothing unique about trisodium phosphate compared with other phosphate-containing food additives, such as pyrophosphate, dipotassium phosphate, hexametaphosphate, diammonium phosphate, and phosphoric acid. And no, the trisodium phosphate in foods is not a paint thinner.

Trisodium phosphate is approved as a food additive by the FDA and the European Union. This is food-grade trisodium phosphate—much-diluted, purified, and used in small amounts in food—not the technical-grade chemical found in paint thinner and many other products. What people may not realize is that food-grade forms of industrial chemicals are often used in the food supply—such as vinegar, which is diluted acetic acid, compared with highly concentrated acetic acid (glacial acetic acid), a caustic substance used in laboratory work that can severely burn the skin. Scaremongering websites are lumping food-grade trisodium phosphate with industrial use of the chemical.

Phosphates in food

Phosphates—a form of the essential mineral phosphorus—are some of the most common food additives, present in thousands of products, from packaged meats, chicken nuggets, and processed cheeses to baked goods, cereals, and cereal bars. Colas, both regular and diet, are a notable source, but other sodas and beverages, even some flavored waters, as well as some powdered drink mixes, may contain them too. Fast food is very high in phosphates. These additives are used by the food industry for all sorts of purposes—as leavening and anti-caking agents, stabilizers, flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, and moisture binders. Trisodium phosphate is used to adjust acid levels in cereals, for example. In canned tuna, phosphates help reduce crystal (struvite) formation.

One concern about phosphate additives in general is that they are very well absorbed—sometimes up to 100 percent—which can lead to elevated blood levels. In contrast, only 10 to 60 percent ofthe naturally occurring phosphates widely found in meat, poultry, seafood, dairy foods, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains are absorbed. And elevated blood levels have been linked in some (though not all) studies to a spectrum of health problems, notably cardiovascular events—not just in people with kidney disease, who have long been advised to limit their phosphorus intake, including phosphate additives, but also in healthy people. It’s thought that phosphates may damage blood vessels, impair endothelial function (which allows blood vessels to dilate), and promote calcification in blood vessels, all of which are linked to atherosclerosis.

For instance, a 2010 study in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology found an association between blood phosphorus levels and cardiovascular disease and death, including in people with no heart disease at baseline. And a 2007 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which used data from the large ongoing Framingham study, found that high blood phosphorus levels predicted cardiovascular disease. Other studies have linked phosphates with stiff arteries, a thickening of the wall of the carotid artery (a major artery going to the brain), and increased risk of heart failure.

While the mineral phosphorus is needed for healthy bones, there is also accumulating evidence that excess phosphates may be contributing to low bone density and osteoporosis. Additional studies suggest that excess phosphates may contribute to type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and even obesity.

Many experts urge caution. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a D.C.-based nonprofit consumer advocacy group, advises to “cut back” on phosphates. The Environmental Working Group offers similar advice.

Bottom line: More research is needed to confirm the potential adverse effects of phosphate additives. The European Food Safety Authority has been evaluating them and is expected to release its findings in late 2018. In the meantime, limiting processed foods, sodas, and “fast foods” is a sure way to reduce them in your diet. (Following a predominantly whole-foods, plant-based diet, limited in processed foods, is also the most healthful way to eat for many other reasons.) If you have chronic kidney disease, it’s particularly important to watch your intake, with the guidance of your health care provider or a registered dietitian.

In today’s world of processed meals, purchasing fresh and buying whole foods at farmers’ markets are popular trends. Checking ingredient labels has seemingly become second nature in recent years. Long ingredient lists laden with unpronounceable additives are something many food experts warn against, as most chemical additives feature a variety of health-unfriendly properties. If checking ingredient labels is a frequent practice in your household, you may be wondering what trisodium phosphate, or TSP, does to the human body. Trisodium phosphate is commonly used in commercial cereals and meats among other processed foods, thus it should be an additive that consumers are aware of and on the lookout for.

What Is Trisodium Phosphate & Its Applications?

Trisodium phosphate uses traditionally revolved around industrial and residential cleaning. As an ingredient in detergents, degreasers, and mildew removers, this powerful chemical features alkalinizing properties that made it popular in laundry detergents and dishwashing liquids since alkaline cuts through grease and oil. It was also used as a paint prep agent on interior and exterior walls and mixed with bleach to create a strong mold cleaner. However, it is not recommended for wood cleaning because of staining properties, nor is it used on metal or glass due to damage and filmy residue, respectively.

TSP was deemed harmful by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 and is listed as a “hazardous substance” under the agency’s Clean Water Act. The Center For Disease Control also discourages trisodium phosphate cleaner uses and lists shock, burning sensations, abdominal pain, and collapse as reactions to ingestion.

Why Is Trisodium Phosphate In Food?

In addition to its many cleaning applications, trisodium phosphate is surprisingly utilized as a food additive. It is called E339 when used for food purposes. Main utilizations include its functions as a thickening agent, acidity regulator, emulsifier, and nutritional enlargement product. Most common foods containing the additive include meat, cheese, and baked goods. The chemical holds moisture in meat, whether stored or cooked, and helps cheese maintain its shape and melting abilities. It is used as a leavening agent in bread, cake, muffins, and similar products.

Trisodium phosphate in cereal is yet another common food application. The chemical makes minor changes to improve dry, extruded cereal color while also promoting the product’s flow through extruder equipment. Further cereal uses include phosphorus fortification.

Commercial cereals featuring this additive include Cheerios (all kinds), Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Kix (all kinds), Mom’s Best Cereals, Trader Joe’s O’s (all kinds), Trix, Lucky Charms, Honeycomb, Wheaties, Total Raisin Bran, Cookie Crisp, Dora The Explorer Cereal, Reese’s Puffs, Golden Grahams, SpongeBob SquarePants Cereal, and Heart Healthy Cereal.

Additional popular foods containing trisodium phosphate include lunch meat, ham, and other processed meats, rice syrup, canned soups, pizza dough, cake mixes, cheese sauces, and baked goods.

Almost any food requiring processing and freezing features this additive. Despite warnings from the EPA and CDC, the chemical is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food industry use. Trisodium phosphate’s reach even extends to the nutritional supplements many professional athletes use to enhance or support their physical abilities.

The European Union also approves the chemical’s presence in food.

Is Trisodium Phosphate Bad For You?

Trisodium phosphate in food is deemed problematic by many health experts because of the potential health risks it can cause. It is believed to cause kidney damage, soft tissue calcification, and bone calcium removal. Continuous ingestion over a long period of time is linked to bone density diseases such as osteoporosis. Trisodium phosphate side effects also include intestinal and stomach lining irritation, and lactic acid reduction in muscles.

Side effects from trisodium phosphate poisoning via accidental ingestion or inhalation of the chemical include breathing difficulties, coughing, and throat pain and swelling. Poisoning affects the eyes, nose, and ears via drooling, severe pain, and vision loss. It may also affect the stomach, intestines, blood, and heart. Symptoms can include low blood pressure, blood in the stool, vomiting, diarrhea, shock, and collapse among others.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, a person can safely consume up to 70 grams of the additive every day without risking health issues. However, the fact that so many popular foods contain TSP is concerning, making it difficult to regulate one’s daily intake. It is possible to ingest high amounts on a daily basis without realizing it, especially among those who enjoy processed meats and cheeses.

Tips For Avoiding Trisodium Phosphate Food Grade Products

Avoiding this food additive can be challenging; however, several key behavioral changes can make the transition easier. If meat and cheese are staple foods in your home, shop through your local farmers’ market instead of the grocery store. Most farmers’ markets sell meat and cheese in addition to fruit and produce. Making a point of limiting processed foods as much as possible is also suggested. Go for whole foods, including plenty of vegetables and fruits, to maintain a healthy body. Grow what you can and “shop local” frequently to ensure the produce you consume is fresh and free of insecticides, pesticides, and other chemicals. If cereal is a morning staple, visit your local natural grocery store for a variety of organic options. Make a list of cereals containing this harmful food additive to avoid, and take this list with you on shopping trips.

The less processed foods you consume overall, from commercial cereals to frozen dinners, the healthier you will be. Processed foods are known weight gain triggers, and are known to contain high amounts of sodium and salt.

Substitute Options

Zeolite and soda ash are among the recommended TSP cleaning substitutes. Zeolites, for example, are used in laundry detergents as bulking agents. Sodium carbonate is another potential substitute; however, it is not as powerful as trisodium phosphate.

While trisodium phosphate is not harmful in small doses, large amounts can cause acute as well as long-term health effects. Educating yourself about this chemical additive and avoiding processed foods are among the best ways to limit your intake.

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