"Alkaline, what?" may be your first reaction when your doctor tells you that your alkaline phosphatase levels are elevated. Your next question may be, "Is there medicine to reduce alkaline phosphatase?"
Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme found throughout your body. The exact role the enzyme plays isn't fully understood, but abnormalities in your levels may be a sign of an underlying health issue.
While a quick search of the internet may turn up a home remedy to lower alkaline phosphatase, there's no diet or treatment specific for lowering your alkaline phosphatase. If you have concerns about your alkaline phosphatase levels, your doctor is your best resource for what your levels mean and what you need to do about it.
What Is Alkaline Phosphatase?
There are millions of natural chemicals and substances inside you that all play a role in keeping your body in good working order. Enzymes are chemicals that serve as catalysts that trigger or speed up reactions in your body. The suffix "-ase" is used to identify enzymes, which includes the enzyme called alkaline phosphatase.
According to an August 2012 case report published in BMJ Case Report, alkaline phosphatase is responsible for helping to hydrolyze, or break apart, phosphate monoesters, which chemically is an organic phosphate that is comprised of a phosphoric acid and an organyl group.
Casting the chemistry lesson aside, alkaline phosphate helps free up phosphate, which is a mineral your body uses to repair your bones and teeth, as well as contract your muscles and regulate your heartbeat.
However, this enzyme may have more roles than that, according to a December 2017 study of 87 people published in Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science. The authors of this study state that the role of alkaline phosphatase in the body isn't fully understood, and that the enzyme may also assist in the calcification process of your bones, as well as transport fats in your digestive system.
Most of the alkaline phosphatase in your body is found in various organs, including your kidneys, liver, bones, and digestive system. Your blood also contains a certain amount of alkaline phosphatase, which is believed to primarily come from your liver and bones, according to the study from Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science.
Read more: What Causes Low Alkaline Phosphatase
Getting an Alkaline Phosphatase Test
While you may ask your doctor to check your blood sugar or cholesterol during your annual exam, you're probably not going to request an alkaline phosphatase test. While it may be part of your annual blood work, physicians most often request an alkaline phosphatase test if they have concerns about liver or bone health.
Generally, there's nothing special you need to do to prepare for your alkaline phosphatase test. However, if your doctor is requesting a repeat test due to abnormalities in the first test, then you may be asked to fast for 10 hours prior to the test, according to the University of Michigan. Certain medication may also alter the results of your test, so your medication schedule may need to be modified too.
What Your Test Means
According to the University of Michigan, a normal alkaline phosphatase falls between 25 to 100 units per liter or 0.43 to 1.70 microkatals per liter. However, these numbers are just a general range and your lab may use a different reference.
If your alkaline phosphatase levels are high, it may indicate that there's something wrong with your liver or bones. Common conditions associated with an elevated alkaline phosphatase include:
- Hepatitis (inflammation in the liver)
- Cirrhosis (scarring in the liver)
- Bile duct blockage
- Paget's bone disease (causes bones to be weak and brittle)
- Bone tumor
An elevation in the enzyme may also indicate mononucleosis, Hodgkin's lymphoma, heart failure, or a serious infection.
If your alkaline phosphatase is low, it may mean you have a very rare genetic disorder called hypophosphatasia, which disrupts the mineralization of your bones and teeth. However, according to MedlinePlus, low alkaline phosphatase may also mean you're zinc deficient or suffering from malnutrition.
Diet for High Alkaline Phosphatase
There's no special diet for high alkaline phosphatase and no food or group of foods that can help lower your levels. Treatment for your high alkaline phosphatase centers around what's causing the elevation in the first place. That being said, some of the underlying conditions that cause high alkaline phosphatase may require modifications to your diet.
Your liver is responsible for performing many vital function, from removing waste and toxic substances from your blood to making protein and cholesterol. If you have hepatitis or cirrhosis, these functions may be compromised, and your doctor may suggest you follow a special diet that's rich in carbohydrates and low in fat with a controlled amount of protein. You may also be advised to minimize your salt intake and add a multivitamin to your daily regimen.
Because a diet for liver disease requires the right balance of macronutrients to maintain your health and the health of your liver, you should consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian for an individualized diet plan.
There's no special diet for the treatment of Paget's disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. But you're encouraged to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes good food sources of calcium and vitamin D, which is the same as the recommendation for rickets.
- Food sources of calcium:
- Food sources of vitamin D:
If you're unable to get enough of the bone-building nutrients from your diet, you may be advised to add supplements.
Read more: 8 Foods for Healthy Bones
Diet for Low Alkaline Phosphatase
While there may not be a specific diet for high alkaline phosphatase, you should worry about a low alkaline phosphatase and the role your diet may play in your numbers. As noted, if your blood results indicate a low alkaline phosphatase, it may be linked to a nutrient-poor diet.
In addition to a zinc deficiency, not getting enough magnesium may also affect your alkaline phosphatase levels, according to the authors of the study in Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science.
Zinc is needed for the proper functioning of many enzymatic reactions in your body. It also helps support immune health, make protein and DNA and heal wounds.
Good food sources of zinc include:
- Red meat
- Pumpkin seeds
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Baked beans
Like zinc, magnesium is also needed for the proper functioning of many enzymes in your body. The mineral is also essential for bone health and helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar.
Good food sources of magnesium include:
- Peanut butter
While poor intakes of these minerals have been associated with low alkaline phosphatase, it's also noted that malnutrition may affect your levels, too. If you're having a difficult time eating a healthy balanced diet, talk to your doctor or consult with a registered dietitian.
- MedlinePlus: "Alkaline Phosphatase"
- BMJ Case Reports: "Persistently Elevated Alkaline Phosphatase"
- StatPearls: "Alkaline Phosphatase"
- Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science: "Low Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) in Adult Population an Indicator of Zinc (Zn) and Magnesium (Mg) Deficiency"
- Accounts of Chemical Research: "Fundamentals of Phosphate Transfer"
- MedlinePlus: "Phosphorus in the Diet"
- Genetics Home Reference: "Hypophosphatasia"
- National Institutes of Health: Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Research Center: "Information for People Newly Diagnosed With Paget’s Disease of Bone"
- Mayo Clinic: "Rickets"
- Stanford Children's Health: "Anatomy and Function of the Liver"
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: "Calcium/Vitamin D"
- Office of Dietary Supplements: "Zinc"
- Office of Dietary Supplements: "Magnesium"