Phosphates are salts or esters of phosphoric acid that contain either potassium, phosphorous, or both. The most common food phosphate is dipotassium phosphate, which is a highly water-soluble salt that can be used as a fertilizer or a buffering agent. In food, dipotassium phosphate is used in non-dairy creamers, mineral supplements, starter cultures, and dry powder beverages as an anti-caking agent. Phosphates also provide necessary mineral nutrition to the body that help it build and repair bones and teeth, promote overall nerve health, and allow you to contract your muscles. The human body also uses potassium as its primary electrolyte in regulating the functions of the autonomic nervous system that controls your heart rate and breathing. Higher grades of food phosphates are used in tartar control toothpaste and mouthwash, and tricalcium phosphate is an important dietary supplement of both calcium and phosphorous. Pharmaceutical grade phosphates are used in an inert form in both prescription and over-the-counter drugs.