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The Importance of Ferritin Levels for Optimal Health

Jun 17, 2023 | Blog, Nutritional Deficiency, Supplements

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The Importance of Ferritin Levels for Optimal Health

FERRITIN levels may be the most important blood test you ever get, particularly if you have a THYROID GLAND problem. Ferritin is an iron-containing protein that is stored in your cells and is the primary form of STORED IRON in your body. It is essential for healthy oxygen transport throughout your body. Too little or too much iron can cause serious health problems. Here, we discuss the importance of FERRITIN levels for optimal health.

 

What is Ferritin?

FERRITIN is an accurate, vital marker of how much iron is STORED in your body, even though there is a small amount of ferritin released into your bloodstream. Iron is primarily stored in your liver, muscles, spleen, and bone marrow. Iron is found in your red blood cells, but it also accumulates in your organs and tissues. TOO little interferes with adequate oxygen transportation. If you have TOO MUCH, it can accumulate in your organs and the brain.

 

Low Ferritin Levels

TOO LITTLE iron in your body can lead to ANEMIA, which means that your red blood cells cannot carry enough oxygen to your cells.

Signs of anemia include weakness, dizziness, headaches, pale skin, fatigue, low body temperature, memory loss, hair loss, poor brain function, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, spoon-shaped finger and toenails, smooth tongue, burning sensation in the tongue, sores at the corners of the mouth, dry skin, shortness of breath, ringing in the ears, leg pains, chest pain, and pica.

 

High Ferritin Levels

TOO MUCH iron in your body can create INFLAMMATION, leading to oxidative stress, which results in deficiencies of antioxidants such as vitamin C and E. Menstruating females lose a small amount of iron every month during their cycle, so they tend not to build up too much iron in their bodies. However, iron levels can get too low when your diet is deficient in iron and you have absorption issues due to things like gluten and gut infections. We tend to see low ferritin levels quite a bit in chronically-ill women who are still cycling, but it is also common in postmenopausal women who never restored their iron levels before entering menopause.

In men, too much iron can have the following symptoms as it accumulates in the brain and other body tissues (most of these also apply to women):

Brain fog, fatigue, low sex drive and erectile dysfunction (iron accumulates in the testicles), mood swings, especially anger, digestive problems as iron builds up in the gut, anxiety, depression, fatigue after meals (insulin resistance), memory loss, joint pain, weight loss, abdominal pain, hair loss, and congestive heart failure.

 

The Ferritin Test

The ferritin test is a simple blood test that measures the amount of ferritin in your blood, giving us an accurate picture of how much iron is actually stored in your body.

 

Why is the ferritin test important?

As mentioned earlier, iron is essential for healthy oxygen transport throughout the body, so having the right balance of iron in the body is crucial.

If there is TOO LITTLE iron in your body, it can lead to anemia and its associated symptoms. Conversely, TOO MUCH iron can cause oxidative stress, which leads to INFLAMMATION and can contribute to various health problems. The ferritin test helps us determine whether you have too much, too little, or just the right amount of iron in your body, which is crucial for optimal health.

Unfortunately, the ferritin test is often overlooked during standard blood panels and general check-ups, but it is one of the most important tests you can have done on a regular basis.

 

What to Do if Your Iron Levels Are Too Low

If your iron is low due to insufficient dietary intake or absorption problems, then you can begin to take the following steps to restore your levels:

 

Iron supplementation:

Iron is best taken in a chelated form with food for the best absorption. Combining iron with vitamin C will help its absorption.

 

What can cause LOW ferritin levels?

Low ferritin levels can be caused by a variety of factors, including a diet deficient in iron, ABSORPTION PROBLEMS due to things like gluten and gut infections, and INTERNAL BLEEDING from serious diseases such as cancer or an ulcer in the gut. Additionally, menstruating females may lose a small amount of iron every month during their cycle, so they tend not to build up too much iron in their bodies. However, iron levels can still get too low due to insufficient dietary intake or absorption problems.

 

What can you do to restore low ferritin levels?

If your ferritin levels are too low, there are several steps you can take to restore them:

 

Iron supplementation:

Iron is best taken in a chelated form with food for the best absorption. Combining iron with vitamin C will help its absorption.

 

Intravenous or iron injections:

If your ferritin levels are extremely low, you may require intravenous or iron injections by a hematologist.

 

Identify food sensitivities:

Food sensitivities such as gluten can create absorption problems.

 

Get your thyroid checked:

Low thyroid function results in low stomach acid, which negatively affects absorption of vitamins and minerals.

 

Stool analysis:

A stool analysis may be in order to identify infections such as parasites, bacteria, or yeasts that can create poor absorption.

Increase consumption of iron-rich foods.

 

What can cause HIGH ferritin levels?

High ferritin levels can be caused by a genetic condition known as HEMACHROMATOSIS, which means that your body is absorbing too much iron, resulting in iron building up in massive quantities.

 

Hemochromatosis can be deadly if not found early, as iron continues to build, resulting in heart attack and organ failure. Hemochromatosis is handled by a gastroenterologist or hematologist who will have you do frequent therapeutic phlebotomies to reduce your iron levels.

 

What can you do to keep your ferritin levels low?

 

If you have too much iron in your body, there are a few things you can do to keep your ferritin levels low and reduce the oxidative stress from the excess iron:

 

Drink green tea:

Green tea will inhibit iron absorption, and the antioxidants in green tea will help reduce inflammation.

Increase consumption of the spice TURMERIC or supplement with curcumin: This has actually been shown to help your body get rid of excess iron.

 

Stop cooking on iron cookware:

Cooking on iron cookware can result in iron in your cooked food.

 

Decrease consumption of foods that are high in iron:

Red meat has the highest level of iron, which is great if your iron levels are low, but not so if they are too high.

 

How to Maintain Optimal Ferritin Levels

Maintaining optimal ferritin levels is crucial for overall health and wellbeing. Here are some steps you can take to keep your ferritin levels in check:

 

Get Regular Blood Tests

It’s important to get regular blood tests that check your iron levels, including ferritin. Your doctor can help you determine how often you need to get these tests based on your individual needs and health status.

 

Eat a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet that includes iron-rich foods can help you maintain healthy ferritin levels. Some foods that are high in iron include red meat, chicken, fish, tofu, lentils, spinach, and fortified cereals.

 

Avoid Iron-Rich Foods and Supplements

If you have high ferritin levels, it’s important to avoid iron-rich foods and supplements. Instead, focus on foods that can help reduce iron absorption, such as green tea and turmeric.

 

Identify and Treat Underlying Health Conditions

Certain health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, can lead to iron deficiency and low ferritin levels. Treating these underlying conditions can help improve ferritin levels.

 

Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with iron absorption and lead to low ferritin levels. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

 

Avoid Smoking

Smoking can also interfere with iron absorption and lead to low ferritin levels. Quitting smoking can help improve ferritin levels and overall health.

 

Final Thoughts

The ferritin test is an essential tool for diagnosing and managing iron deficiency and overload. Maintaining optimal ferritin levels is crucial for overall health and wellbeing, and there are many steps you can take to ensure your ferritin levels remain in check. By working with your healthcare provider and making lifestyle changes as necessary, you can improve your ferritin levels and live a healthier, happier life.

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