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Dicalcium phosphate (DCP) is a dibasic calcium phosphate formed by a reactive combination of calcium oxide and phosphoric acid. As a dietary supplement, it is commonly used as a source of calcium and phosphorus for both humans and animals. In this role, the compound is either used as an additive in the preparation of cereal and grain products or purchased as a meal supplement. It is also virtually insoluble in water and is sometimes used as a delayed release component in the pharmaceutical industry. Although calcium and phosphorous supplements are fairly safe, dicalcium phosphate should ideally be used under the supervision of a medical professional.
Also known as calcium monohydrgen phosphate, DCP is typically encountered in a dihydrate state with a chemical formula of CaHPO4•2H2O. Dihydrate refers to an additional two water molecules present in the formula, which may be removed by thermal conversion to produce the anhydrous equivalent CaHPO4. In this desiccated state, it contains approximately 23% calcium by volume making it an excellent source of the mineral. DCP is typically presented as a white or off-white, free flowing crystalline powder. The compound is almost completely insoluble in water with typical absorption levels of 0.02 grams per 100 milliliters or less.
Dicalcium phosphate is widely used as a dietary additive and supplement for calcium and phosphorous. As an additive, it is included in the production of enriched grain products such as flour and maize meal, in breakfast cereals, pasta, and in many animal products such as dog treats. It is also available as a direct meal supplement for both human and animal consumption. In this format, the compound is available in capsule or tablet form and typically as part of a wider spectrum of trace minerals. As a veterinary supplement, DCP is most commonly presented in powdered form for addition to regular animal feed.
This compound is also used in the pharmaceutical industry as a tableting agent. Its insoluble nature makes it useful as a pharmaceutical excipient, which means that it is used as a carrier for various medications such as those used to eliminate body odor. The insolubility has also been the focus of several studies into its viability as a delayed-release matrix for highly water soluble drugs. This may have a positive impact on the industry, as DCP is a simple and cheap material to use in these applications.
Due to its fairly high concentration of calcium, dicalcium phosphate should be used with caution by breast feeding mothers and those suffering from lung diseases, parathyroid disease, diarrhea, or kidney stones. Overdose symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, thirst, and a dry mouth. As with most supplements, a healthcare professional’s advice should be sought before taking it. Users should also inform a medical professional of any prescription medication they are taking, as DCP may have an adverse interaction with some drugs.