Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme present throughout your body, and mostly it's nothing to worry about. However, ALP deficiencies do happen sometimes as a symptom of larger medical problems. If you have a condition associated with low ALP or if your doctor has discussed low ALP blood tests with you, it's important to follow up and seek treatment for the underlying cause. Additionally, adding healthy fats and certain supplements to your diet may also help raise your alkaline phosphatase levels.
Testing Your Alkaline Phosphatase
Evaluate your risk factors for low ALP.
Low ALP levels are typically a temporary condition seen in individuals who have recently had a blood transfusion or heart bypass surgery. Chronic low ALP levels always accompany another health issue, most commonly malnutrition. Those with Wilson disease or an extremely rare bone metabolism disorder called Hypophosphatasia may also have low ALP.
- If you have recently received a blood transfusion or have undergone heart bypass surgery, talk to your doctor to see if you should be concerned about low ALP. Often, this condition is temporary and requires no medical intervention or lifestyle changes.
Get a standard blood test.
Your doctor will have to order this blood test for you. This will test for ALP, along with a number of other enzymes that help indicate your overall level of health. If you have concerns regarding your ALP levels due to malnutrition or a pre-existing condition, ask your doctor about getting a standard blood test.
- Standard blood tests are also often done as a part of your annual physical. If you have not had a physical within the last 10-12 months, you may want to ask about an overall health check, too.
- You may also be able to request an individual ALP test if, for any reason, you do not want to have a full blood test performed.
Discuss your results with your doctor to understand why your ALP is low.
Since low ALP levels are rare and always symptomatic of a larger condition, it’s important to talk about your results with your doctor. If you don’t already know about the underlying cause for your ALP, your doctor may advise additional testing depending on your symptoms.r.
- Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist to interpret your results and seek additional testing if a condition like hypophosphatasia is suspected.
Making Dietary Adjustments
Make sure you’re getting sufficient calories.
Since the most common cause of chronic low ALP is malnutrition, your diet is often the first thing you need to adjust. Start by making sure you are getting sufficient calories for your age, sex, activity level, and weight. The most accurate way to do this when dealing with low ALP is by working with your doctor.
- You can also use an online calorie calculator to help get a personalized estimate of your overall calorie intake.
Increase your healthy fat intake.
Along with overall calorie intake, making sure you’re getting most of your fats from healthy fats is important in raising your ALP. Healthy fats that have been shown to help with ALP include cod liver oil, coconut oil, and corn oil. Try taking any of these as part of your regular meals, or take one as a daily supplement.
- There are a number of online calculators dedicated to helping you calculate your macronutrient needs. Use one of these to help you figure out how much fat you should be getting on a daily basis.
- Always consult with your doctor before you start taking a new supplement, especially if you have a preexisting health condition.
Take a daily zinc supplement.
Low zinc levels could contribute to low alkaline phosphatase. Look at the labels on your food as you eat throughout the day and track your zinc intake. If it’s less than 30-40 mg, add a zinc supplement to your diet to help increase your overall zinc levels.
- 40 mg/day is considered the overall upper limit for how much zinc a healthy adult needs. Take a supplement that can be easily adjusted to make up for fluctuating daily zinc intake and bring your intake to 30-40 mg/day.
- Always speak with your doctor before you start any new supplement.
Use an iron supplement to treat underlying anemia.
If your low alkaline phosphatase level is caused or exacerbated by anemia, an iron supplement can help. Biological males generally need about 8 mg of iron a day, while biological females need around 18 mg a day.
- Your general blood test should let your doctor know if you are anemic.
- Take a daily iron supplement or increase your intake of foods like leafy greens, beans, and fortified cereals to get more daily iron.
Seeking Professional Help
Work with your doctor to treat the underlying cause.
Since low alkaline phosphatase levels are always symptomatic of another condition, you have to treat the underlying cause to permanently treat the condition. Talk to your doctor about the proper treatment for the cause of your low ALP, and follow their instructions very closely to raise your alkaline phosphatase levels.
Follow up with a specialist if your doctor recommends it.
Some underlying causes of low ALP aren’t very common, so not every primary care physician is equipped to treat them. In that case, they may refer you to a specialist in the needed treatment area. Follow up with that specialist as soon as possible per your doctor’s instructions.
Speak with a dietitian.
If your low alkaline phosphatase levels are caused by malnutrition, working with a doctor-recommended dietitian could help. Your dietitian can work with you to calculate your macronutrient and micronutrient needs, and help you develop a workable meal plan to meet your dietary goals.
- Your primary care provider or specialist may be able to provide recommendations for dietitians in your area that have experience working with malnutrition or complicated health conditions.
- Work with your doctor so that you can continually monitor your ALP levels. As you start to treat the underlying cause, your levels should go up. If that does not happen, further treatment may be necessary.
- Always consult with your health care provider before starting any new supplements or making any major dietary changes. They can let you know how best to safely accomplish this process.