Alkaline phosphatase is predominantly formed in the liver and bones. Low levels of this enzyme in the human body is an indicator of various health conditions. This article sheds light on the reasons and consequences of low alkaline phosphatase levels, along with some corrective measures.
Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme that is present in tissues all over the body. However, it is the liver that produces the maximum amount of this enzyme in the body. Increased levels of alkaline phosphatase are found in humans as they undergo phases of bone growth either naturally (puberty), or in case of bone diseases (Paget’s disease or osteomalacia).
Low levels, on the other hand, can be a result of several factors, the most common ones being malnutrition and anemia. A blood test is conducted to ascertain the alkaline phosphatase levels in the body. Pregnant women and children are likely to have elevated levels of this enzyme.
Normal alkaline phosphatase ranges for adults and children is mentioned below. Note that values and ranges may vary from laboratory to laboratory. Speak to your doctor for more details.
- Normal level in adults: 25-100 U/L
- Normal level in children: Not more than 350 U/L
Low levels may indicate one or more of the following –
- Celiac disease
- Magnesium and zinc deficiency
- Factors related to menopause
Low level of alkaline phosphatase, more often than not, is an indicator of malnutrition. The reasons are explained in detail in this section.
Consuming a poor diet can cause alkaline phosphatase levels to drop. Low intake of vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin C, along with excess consumption of vitamin D are contributing factors. Lack of proteins and lack of minerals like phosphorous and zinc also lead to this condition.
Hypophosphatasia, characterized by low level of mineral phosphorous in the blood, is a rare genetic disorder that affects the development of bones and teeth in the body. This disorder renders the bones weak, and softens them, leading to physical malformations as a result of abnormal bone development. It may sometimes cause respiratory disorders as well.
Other factors causing low levels of alkaline phosphatase include thyroid gland disorders such as hypothyroidism or impaired functioning of the parathyroid gland. Pernicious anemia, also ranks as a cause. It is characterized by a decreased ability to absorb vitamin B12, which results in low red blood cell count. Besides these, individuals affected by the following conditions may be susceptible to low levels of alkaline phosphatase –
- Postmenopausal women who receive estrogen therapy to combat osteoporosis
- Children suffering from achondroplasia and cretinism
- Aplastic anemia
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia
- Wilson’s disease
The course of treatment to follow begins with treating the underlying cause of low alkaline phosphatase levels.
• If dietary deficiency is the cause, doctors will mostly recommend changes in meals and prescribe dietary supplements.
• If the cause happens to be hypothyroidism, doctors may prescribe levothyroxine, which is a synthetic form of thyroid hormone.
• Low levels of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and folic acid can be treated by consuming vitamin supplements.
Timely treatment is important to restore the level of alkaline phosphatase in the body. This disorder is usually detected during routine blood tests. Therefore, it is necessary to consult your doctor and discuss the right course of therapy at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.