Ferritinis a blood protein that contains iron, and the ferritin test measures the amount of ferritin in the blood. Ferritin not only helps protect lipids, DNA, and proteins from the potential toxic effects of iron but also ensures that iron is properly utilized for the body’s critical processes. To understand how much iron the body has stored, a blood test called the ferritin test is conducted, measured in nanograms per milliliter. A deficiency in ferritin indicates that there is less iron in the body than required, signaling iron deficiency anemia. Conversely, elevated ferritin levels are associated with conditions such as liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, various inflammatory issues, and the risk of hyperthyroidism.
Ferritin, the body’s iron reservoir, is a blood protein responsible for the dissolution, storage, and controlled release of iron needed for the production and oxygen distribution of red blood cells. The ferritin test measures the level of iron in the blood, crucial for the production of healthy blood cells, transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron also plays a vital role in supporting muscles, bone marrow, and brain development in children. Ferritin protein is found in body cells, especially in hepatocytes, which constitute approximately 75% of the liver cells, as well as in the bone marrow and immune system cells. About 4,500 iron molecules are stored in ferritin protein.
What Should Ferritin Levels Be? Normal ferritin values vary according to gender. For males, values between 20-500 ng/mL and for females, 20-200 ng/mL are considered within the normal range. In children, ideal ferritin levels vary according to age.
- For newborns: 25-200 ng/ml
- For one-month-old infants: 200-600 ng/ml
- For infants aged 2-5 months: 50-200 ng/ml
- For infants aged 6 months to 15 years: 7-142 ng/ml
The ferritin test can diagnose conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, restless leg syndrome, and diseases like hemochromatosis, which determines if the body absorbs too much iron from food, liver disease, and systemic autoinflammatory diseases such as adult Still’s disease.
If the ferritin test result is below the lower limit, it indicates a low level of iron storage in the body. Conversely, a value above the upper limit is considered as high ferritin levels.
When is Ferritin Considered Dangerous? In general, serum ferritin levels above 200 ng/mL for women and 300 ng/mL for men are considered abnormal. A ferritin result exceeding 1000 ng/mL suggests the presence of serious conditions such as liver cirrhosis, cancer, and severe infections, making it highly dangerous.
What is Ferritin Deficiency? Ferritin deficiency, indicated by a test result below 20 mg/nL, signifies low iron stores in the body, implying iron deficiency. This can lead to iron deficiency anemia, where red blood cells are insufficient in the body.
Causes of Ferritin Deficiency: Factors contributing to ferritin deficiency include:
- Inadequate intake of iron-containing foods
- Low gastrointestinal absorption
- Conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, and peptic ulcers
- Menorrhagia and hematuria
- Breastfeeding during pregnancy
- Experiencing frequent childbirth
- Consumption of processed meat products
- Celiac disease
- Vitamin C deficiency
- Chronic illnesses
- Loss of blood after various injuries or surgeries
- Gastrointestinal system losses (polyps in the colon, gastric ulcers, diverticulum, etc.)
Symptoms of Ferritin Deficiency: In cases of ferritin deficiency, symptoms may include:
- Excessive fatigue
- Pallor of the skin
- Chest pain and shortness of breath
- Accelerated heart rate
- Headache and dizziness
- Mouth ulcers
- Increased susceptibility to nail breakage
- Lack of appetite, especially in babies and children
- Ringing in the ears
- Sensation of cold
- Concentration and focus problems
- Hair loss
- Joint and muscle pain
- Numbness in the hands and feet
- Desire to eat soil and chalk
What Does Ferritin Deficiency Cause? Iron deficiency can affect the production of red blood cells, metabolism, and hormone production, leading to the development of iron deficiency anemia.
How to Increase Ferritin Levels?If ferritin deficiency is detected, it is essential to first identify the underlying cause. If there is no significant underlying cause, you can increase your ferritin levels through dietary habits:
- Lean red meat, lentils, beans, dried grapes, eggs, and breakfast cereals, as well as spinach, broccoli, and cabbage, along with vitamin C-rich supplements and foods, can help raise ferritin levels by providing the body with iron.
It is important not only to take in iron but also to facilitate its absorption. Therefore, reducing the consumption of tea and coffee after meals and limiting the intake of cigarettes and alcohol can accelerate the absorption of iron.
What is Ferritin Excess? Ferritin excess indicates that the body’s iron stores are higher than necessary, associated with conditions such as infection, hyperthyroidism, liver problems, or rheumatoid
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