Calcium is a mineral which is found naturally in foods. It is the most common essential mineral in the body that has an important role in muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and blood clotting.
The human body also needs this mineral to keep the bones strong and dense. This is crucial since low bone density can cause the bones to become fragile and brittle. Moreover, this mineral is vital for healthy blood pressure, along with minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
Tricalcium phosphate – TCP (with molecular formula – Ca3O8P2) is one of the most important and common members of the calcium phosphate family of minerals, that are made of calcium cations with different phosphate anions, including – metaphosphates, orthophosphates, or pyrophosphates.
Also, it is the main form of calcium found in dairy products. In a supplement form, it usually comes in a fine white powder, is almost insoluble in water and has a very low flavor profile.
Can Vegans Consume Foods With Tricalcium Phosphate?
It depends on the source because there are both vegan and animal versions.
Factors that enhance the absorption of this mineral include:
- hormones, including the estrogen and parathyroid hormones;
- foods high in magnesium;
- daily moderate physical exercise;
- a low-fat diet because a regular diet high in fat reduces the availability of calcium;
- a proper amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach;
- vitamin K and vitamin D.
This supplement has a moderate absorption when taken in small doses (500 mg or less) at mealtimes, however, more research is required to ascertain the public health benefits and cost-effectiveness of consuming foods fortified with this supplement.
Recommended Daily Amounts
The Institute of Medicine recommends:
- Pregnant teens – 1,300 milligrams;
- Pregnant/breastfeeding women – 1,000 milligrams;
- All adults 71 and older – 1,200 milligrams;
- Adult women 51-70 – 1,200 milligrams;
- Adult men 51-70 – 1,000 milligrams;
- All adults 19-50 – 1,000 milligrams, however, the United Kingdom sets the goal at 700 mg and the World Health Organization recommends 500 mg.
Some people are concerned that they are not getting enough calcium from food sources alone and take TCP as a daily supplement to increase their calcium needs.
This compound has many uses in agricultural and industrial applications. For instance, you may find it in – toothpaste, baby powder, dry soup mixes, powdered spices, dry beverage mixes, dry gravy mixes, and other hygroscopic food products, which require flow conditioning. The main reasons companies add it to their products is to increase the calcium content and for its strong anti-caking properties.
Also, it is used in the manufacture of phosphate compounds, pottery, fertilizers, polishing and dental powders, milk glass, and porcelains.
Dangers Of Tricalcium Phosphate
TCP is not considered irritating or toxic unless ingested in very high concentrations. Signs and symptoms of an adverse reaction include – dry mouth, decreased appetite, difficulty breathing, hives, nausea, increased urination, swelling of the face, tongue, lips, or throat.
Hypercalcemia is a condition in which a patient has a too high concentration of calcium in the blood. It is diagnosed by a ionized serum calcium > 5.2 mg/dL or a serum calcium concentration > 10.4 mg/dL.
This condition can weaken the bones, interfere with how the heart works, and create kidney stones. Furthermore, it can affect the way the brain works, resulting in lethargy, confusion, and fatigue as well as it can cause nausea, stomach upset, constipation, and vomiting.
Excessive intake of this supplement might inhibit the absorption of zinc and iron. Ironically, while many individuals take extra calcium supplements to improve their bone health, this can also disturb the absorption of manganese which is actually bad for bone health.
A diet which includes additives based on inorganic phosphates (mainly found in processed foods) stimulates the growth and spread of small-cell lung cancers, according to a 2009 study issued in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Chronic Kidney Disease
High blood calcium over a few years can cause chronic kidney disease, that leads to an increased risk of renal osteodystrophy (a type of bone disease), and creates an imbalance in bone metabolism. Moreover, these imbalances may cause calcium to deposit in the blood vessels and contribute to heart disease.
Research established that taking high-dose calcium supplements doesn’t prevent fractures. Actually, numerous esteemed scientists consider that moderate physical exercise and other factors have more to do with bone health than calcium intake does.
Natural Ways To Get Your Calcium
Food is definitely the best source of calcium, including green vegetables (like – spinach, collard green, broccoli, Swiss chard, kale, rhubarb, lettuces, broccoli rabe, mustard and turnip greens), garlic, amaranth, wasabi, wakame, spirulina, figs, blackstrap molasses, legumes (such as – navy beans, chickpeas, black beans, great northern beans, lentils, soy beans), nuts (brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts), and seeds (flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds).
It is recommended to limit the consumption of foods known to cause the body to excrete more calcium than normal, such as – chloride and sodium (usually found in table salt) and caffeine (mainly found in tea, coffee, chocolate, and soft and energy drinks).