Ferritin is a protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion. Ferritin typically lies in the cells of the liver (hepatocytes) and immune system (reticuloendothelial cells). When the body releases ferritin, it goes and binds to transferrin. Transferrin is a protein that helps to transport ferrin to where the new red blood cells are made. A serum ferritin test indicates the amount of iron stored in the body. This is a very important test because it helps to distinguish between iron deficiency anemia and anemia of chronic disease.
High levels of ferritin: Hemochromatosis, Alcoholic liver disease
Low levels of ferritin: Anemia, Heavy menstrual bleeding
Normal levels of ferritin are:
How can ferritin levels be increased?
Iron rich sources
Heme iron: Red meat, chicken breasts, salmon etc
Non heme iron: Mainly dark leafy vegetables, beans, rice, wheat, oats, fruits, vegetable, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin C rich sources
Vitamin C increases the absorption of non heme iron.
If you’re consuming a diet rich in iron but your ferritin levels are still low, it may be due to these factors:
Iron cannot be absorbed in the body, if there are medical conditions such as:
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Autoimmune disease and hormonal imbalance
In case of kidney disease, the kidneys are unable to make enough hormones that signal the body to make red blood cells.
Tannins present in coffee, tea can inhibit the absorption of non heme iron.