Ferritin is a type of protein, which stores iron in the body. We all know that iron plays an important role in the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells. They transport oxygen to all parts of the body. At the same time, it is a fact that free iron in the blood is toxic or harmful for the body. Ferritin stores iron in itself, and thus keeps it in such a way that it cannot cause harm to the body. It stores it in a soluble and non-toxic form, and makes it available as per demand. The iron in blood triggers the production of ferritin. Therefore, ferritin levels in iron deficiency anemia are found to be low. Low iron in blood means low amount of this protein in the body. The levels may vary according to the age and sex.
- Normal range for men = 12 to 300 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter)
- Normal range for women = 12 to 150 ng/mL
- Normal range for children belonging to the age group 1-5 years = 6 to 24 ng/mL
- Normal range for children belonging to the age group 5-9 years = 10 to 55 ng/mL
- Normal range for children over 9 years = Up to 200 ng/mL
A low range than the normal indicates that there isn't enough iron available for consumption in your body. During pregnancy, most women have low ranges. Apart from pregnancy, this can happen due to:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Colon cancer
- Heavy bleeding during menstruation
- Prolonged bleeding in the digestive tract
Sometimes, the range is as high as 1000 ng/mL. This can be seen in case of :
- Blood transfusions
- Hemochromatosis (too much iron in your body)
- Inflammatory disorders
- Liver diseases
- Hodgkin's disease
In Iron Deficiency Anemia
Lower than normal range in the body can cause tachycardia (high heart rate) or heart palpitations along with fatigue, headache, and dizziness. Increased irritability, pale and brittle nails, pale color of the eyes, loss of libido, abdominal pain, excessive menstrual bleeding, unusually long periods, craving for non-food items like ice, cigarette butts are some symptoms. A simple blood test helps measure the range.
Doctors advice to incorporate iron-enriched foods, like chicken liver, beef liver, trouts, oysters, spinach, potatoes, etc., in daily diet. Reducing the intake of caffeine (tea or coffee) is essential if you want to see a rise in the range. Moreover, you should also consume more vitamin C and vitamin E rich foods; because these vitamins promote absorption of iron. So, eat foods like citrus fruits (lime, lemon, orange, etc.), vegetables like broccoli, kale, turnip, spinach, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach, collard greens, and blueberries to raise your ferritin levels. Iron supplements can be taken after consulting your physician. The supplements may come with certain side effects like constipation and upset stomach.
Very low range can exhibit symptoms like lack of energy, tiredness, breathing difficulty, loss of appetite, cold hands and feet, chest pain, fainting, confusion, lack of concentration, weak immune system, impaired neurological development, and hampered growth (in case of young children). Children, adults, elderly, menopausal or pregnant women can have low levels.
Recommended Dietary Intake of Iron
- Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men and women over 51: 8 mg per day.
- RDA for women in the age group 19 to 50: 18 mg per day.
- RDA for men in the age group 19 to 50: 10 mg per day.
- RDA for infants 7-12 months: 11 mg per day.
- RDA for kids (1-3 years): 7 mg per day.
- RDA for kids (4-8 years): 10 mg per day.
- RDA for children (9-13 years): 8 mg per day.
- RDA for teenage boys (14-18 years): 11 mg per day.
- RDA for teenage girls (14-18 years): 15 mg per day.
- RDA for pregnant woman: 27 mg per day.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.