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Gut. 1993 Mar; 34(3): 365–370.
PMCID: PMC1374143

Effects of dietary calcium and phosphate on the intestinal interactions between calcium, phosphate, fatty acids, and bile acids.


Luminal free fatty acids and bile acids may damage the colonic epithelium and stimulate proliferation, which may increase the risk of colon cancer. It has been suggested that only soluble calcium ions (Ca2+) precipitate fatty acids and bile acids, thus reducing their lytic activity. Consequently, precipitation of luminal Ca2+ by dietary phosphate should inhibit these effects. To evaluate the proposed antagonistic effects of dietary calcium and phosphate, we studied the intestinal interactions between calcium, phosphate, fatty acids, and bile acids in rats fed purified diets that differed only in the concentrations of calcium and phosphate. Increased dietary calcium drastically decreased the solubility of fatty acids in the ileum, colon, and faeces, as well as the solubility of bile acids in the colon and faeces. Although dietary calcium strongly increased the total faecal fatty acid concentration and hardly affected the total faecal bile acid concentration, the fatty acid and bile acid concentrations in faecal water were drastically decreased by dietary calcium. Consequently, the lytic activity of faecal water was decreased. Dietary phosphate did not interfere with these intestinal effects of calcium. These results indicate that dietary phosphate does not inhibit the protective effects of dietary calcium on luminal solubility and the lytic activity of fatty and bile acids.

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