Ferritin is a type of protein in your body that helps you store iron in your tissue. Your ferritin levels may drop if you have an iron deficiency or poor nutrition. In addition, there are a variety of medical conditions and chronic diseases that could cause low ferritin levels. While low ferritin levels can cause serious health problems, in most cases it should be relatively easy for you to increase them. By determining any outstanding health problems, taking supplements, and altering your diet, you should be able to increase the ferritin levels in your blood.
EditDetermining the Cause of Low Ferritin
- Talk to a medical professional. Before you take any action to increase your ferritin levels, you should consult your doctor. Your doctor will ask you about your personal and family medical history. Your doctor will ask also you about whether you are experiencing any symptoms that could be associated with low ferritin levels. Some symptoms include:
- Hair loss
- Shortness of breath
- Brittle fingernails
- Test your iron levels in your blood. Since ferritin is iron that has been absorbed in your tissue, the first place your doctor will start is by checking how much iron is in your blood. This will give them a sense of whether you’re not consuming enough iron or may have a condition that inhibits absorption of iron into your blood.
- Check your ferritin levels. Your doctor will also test your ferritin levels. If you don’t have enough iron in your blood, your body may draw it out of your tissue, reducing your ferritin levels. As a result, ferritin level tests and iron level tests are often run together.
- Your target ferritin levels in your blood should be 30 to 40 ng/Ml. If your ferritin is lower than 10 ng/Ml, you should take steps to increase your ferritin.
- Submit to an iron binding capacity test. This test will measure the maximum amount of iron your blood can store. This will give your doctor an idea of whether your liver and other organs are functioning properly. If they’re not, then your low ferritin or low iron levels could be related to a larger problem.
- Determine if you have any serious medical conditions. After talking with you and running blood tests, your doctor will determine when you have medical conditions that have either caused low ferritin levels or may affect your ability to raise them. Conditions that could impact your ferritin levels or treatment include:
- Kidney disease
- Gastric ulcers
- Enzyme disorders
- Take oral iron supplements. Purchase iron supplements at your local grocery store or pharmacy. Follow the directions on the product or your physician’s instructions. Typically, oral iron supplements will take several weeks to raise iron and ferritin levels. However, if you have a condition like anemia that affects your ability to absorb or process iron, pills may not work.
- Iron supplements may have a variety of side effects such as backache, chills, dizziness, headache, and nausea.
- Because vitamin C enhances iron absorption in the blood, you should take your iron supplement with a glass of orange juice.
- Avoid taking your iron supplement with milk, caffeine, antacids, or calcium supplements, which can reduce the iron absorption.
- Inject parenteral iron. If you have a condition such as ongoing blood loss, malabsorption, or gastric bypass surgery, that makes it hard for your body to absorb iron, you doctor may suggest iron injections or infusions. In this case, iron will be injected directly into your bloodstream, bypassing your digestive system.
- Injections or infusions will only be used if other attempts to supplement iron and ferritin levels have failed.
- Parenteral iron injections may have side effects similar to oral supplements.
- Rely on prescription supplements and medications. There are a variety of medications specifically geared increasing iron and ferritin levels in the human body. If you have an outstanding condition that inhibits your ability to absorb and store iron, your doctor may prescribe one. Some medications include:
- Ferrous sulfate
- Ferrous gluconate
- Ferrous fumarate
- Carbonyl iron
- Iron dextran complex
EditAltering Your Diet
- Eat more meat. Meat, specifically red meat, is perhaps the best source of iron you can eat. This is not only because meat is iron rich, but because your body can more easily absorb iron from meat. As a result, by increasing your consumption of meat, you’ll also increase your iron and ferritin levels. The best meat products to increase your iron levels include:
- Consume plant products that have iron. Next to meat, there are a variety of plant products that are rich in iron. Consuming these plant products will help you to increase the ferritin levels in your blood. Remember, though, on average, you’ll need to consume double the amount of plant products to get the same iron you could from meat. Iron rich plant products include:
- Avoid foods and minerals that make it hard for your body to absorb iron. Certain foods and minerals make it more difficult for your body to digest and absorb iron. As a result, you should limit your consumption of certain foods and minerals, including: