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Generic Name: Dicalcium phosphate

Alternate Title

Fleet Phospho-soda, Fleet Enema


Herbs & Supplements


Aluminum phosphate, calcium phosphate (bone ash, bone phosphate, calcium orthophosphate, calcium phosphate dibasic anhydrous, calcium phosphate dibasic dihydrate, calcium phosphate tribasic, di-calcium phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, dicalcium phosphates, neutral calcium phosphate, precipitated calcium phosphate, tertiary calcium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate, whitlockite), potassium phosphate (dibasic potassium phosphate, dipotassium hydrogen orthophosphate, dipotassium monophosphate, dipotassium phosphate, monobasic potassium phosphate, potassium acid phosphate, potassium biphosphate, potassium dihydrogen orthophosphate), MCI-196 (colestilan), sevelamar (Renagel®), sodium phosphate (anhydrous sodium phosphate, dibasic sodium phosphate, disodium hydrogen orthophosphate, disodium hydrogen orthophosphate dodecahydrate, disodium hydrogen phosphate, disodium phosphate, phosphate of soda, sodium orthophosphate).

Note on terminology: The term "phosphates" in this monograph refers to anhydrous sodium acid phosphate, dibasic sodium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate anhydrous, monobasic potassium acid phosphate, monobasic sodium phosphate, phosphorus, potassium phosphate, sodium biphosphate, and sodium phosphate.

Caution: Do not confuse phosphate salts with toxic substances such as organophosphates, or with tribasic sodium phosphates and tribasic potassium phosphates, which are strongly alkaline.


Phosphorus is a mineral found in many foods, such as milk, cheese, dried beans, peas, colas, nuts, and peanut butter. Phosphate is the most common form of phosphorus. In the body, phosphate is the most abundant intracellular anion. It is critical for energy storage and metabolism, for the utilization of many B-complex vitamins, to buffer body fluids, for kidney excretion of hydrogen ions, for proper muscle and nerve function, and for maintaining calcium balance. Phosphorus is vital to the formation of bones and teeth, and healthy bones and soft tissues require calcium and phosphorus to grow and develop throughout life. Inadequate intake of dietary phosphate can lead to hypophosphatemia (low levels of phosphate in the blood), which can lead to long-term potentially serious complications. Conversely, excess phosphate intake can lead to hyperphosphatemia (high blood phosphorus levels), which can occur particularly in people with impaired kidney function and can lead to potentially serious electrolyte imbalances, adverse effects, or death.

In adults, phosphorus makes up approximately 1% of total body weight It is present in every cell of the body, although 85% of the body's phosphorus is found in the bones and teeth.

Phosphates are used clinically to treat hypophosphatemia, hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels), as saline laxatives, and in the management of calcium-based kidney stones. They may also be of some benefit to patients with vitamin D resistant rickets, multiple sclerosis, and diabetic ketoacidosis.


DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Constipation: Occasional constipation is an U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved use of phosphates in adults and children, both in oral form and as an enema (for example, Fleet Enema). Phosphates are also used to restore bowel activity after surgery.
Grade: A

Hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels): Phosphate salts (except for calcium phosphate) are effective in the treatment of hypercalcemia. However, intravenous phosphate for treating hypercalcemia may not be recommended, due to concerns about lowering blood pressure, excessively lowering calcium levels, heart attack, tetany, or kidney failure. Sudden hypotension (low blood pressure), kidney failure, and death have been reported after phosphate infusion.
Grade: A

Hypophosphatemia (low blood phosphorus level): Hypophosphatemia is an U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-labeled use of phosphates in adults. Taking sodium phosphate or potassium phosphate is effective for preventing and treating most causes of hypophosphatemia, and should be directed under medical supervision. The underlying cause of the hypophosphatemia should be identified and corrected whenever possible.
Grade: A

Kidney stones (calcium oxalate stones): Kidney stones (nephrolithiasis) are an U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-labeled use of phosphates in adults. Taking potassium and sodium phosphate salts orally may help prevent kidney stones in patients with hypercalciuria (high urine calcium levels) and in patients with kidney stones made of calcium oxalate. However, phosphate administration when stones are composed of magnesium-ammonium-phosphate or calcium phosphate may increase the rate of stone formation.
Grade: A

Laxative/bowel preparation for procedures: This is an U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-labeled use of phosphates in adults and children. Sodium phosphate taken orally or as an enema may be used for bowel cleansing in preparation for surgery, imaging studies, or endoscopy (for example, Fleet Phospho-soda, Fleet Enema). Phosphates appear to increase peristalsis and cause an influx of fluids into the intestine via osmotic action. Aluminum phosphate is used orally to neutralize gastric acid.
Grade: A

Refeeding syndrome prevention: After periods of severe malnutrition or starvation (for example, anorexia nervosa), intravenous phosphate may be necessary in order to prevent a refeeding syndrome. Phosphate levels should be closely monitored in such patients.
Grade: B

Bone density (bone metabolism): Early research shows that high amounts of phosphorus may have negative effects on bone density. This is because phosphorus decreases bone formation and increases bone resorption.
Grade: C

Burns: Patients with serious burns may lose phosphate and replacement may be necessary.
Grade: C

Diabetic ketoacidosis: The use of prophylactic phosphate therapy in diabetic ketoacidosis is controversial and may be considered, particularly in cases of low phosphate levels.
Grade: C

Hypercalciuria (high urine calcium levels): Long term, slow release neutral potassium phosphate has been shown to reduce calcium excretion in subjects with absorptive hypercalciuria and appears to be well tolerated. This use of phosphates may be considered to prevent kidney stone formation.
Grade: C

Hyperparathyroidism: This use of phosphates has not been clearly demonstrated as being beneficial in scientific studies.
Grade: C

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN): Critically ill patients receiving intravenous feedings often have low phosphate levels. Phosphate levels should be closely monitored in such patients, particularly if kidney function is impaired. Inorganic phosphates avoid incompatibility with calcium in TPN solutions. Addition of phosphate to TPN solutions should be under the supervision of a licensed nutritionist.
Grade: C

Vitamin D resistant rickets: This use of phosphates has not been clearly demonstrated as being beneficial in scientific studies.
Grade: C

Exercise performance: Several studies report that taking phosphates orally does not improve exercise performance.
Grade: D

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Note: This information is not intended to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions, or adverse effects for this drug. If you have question about the drug(s) you are taking, check with your health care professional.
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