Ferritin is a type of protein and its main function is to store iron in the body cells. Measurement of ferritin level in the blood helps to determine the amount of iron stored in the body. Iron is vital mineral required for production of hemoglobin, which in turn carries oxygen from lungs to every cell in the body.
If you have low ferritin level it indicates iron deficiency anemia, whereas high ferritin level may be an indication of disorders such as hemochromatosis. You may have symptoms such as low energy level, weakness, pale face and tongue, feeling of depression, breathlessness, lightheadedness when you suffer from anemia.
The protein ferritin is hollow in shape; in this space iron is stored for later use. For this reason measurement of ferritin level in blood helps the physician to know the amount of iron stored in the body. There is slight variation in normal level of ferritin in men and women. In adult men it is 12 to 300 nanograms per milliliter of blood, and in females it is 12 to 150 nanograms per milliliter of blood. There may be slight variation of values from one laboratory to another.
Causes And Symptoms Of Low Ferritin Level
Usually the level of ferritin remains to its optimum in a healthy individual, however under certain circumstances such as excessive blood loss (e.g. prolonged internal bleeding, excessive menstrual flow), prolonged dietary iron deficiency, or intestinal malabsorption (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal worms etc) you may notice low ferritin level.
It manifests in the form of weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal ache, pallor, rapid heartbeat, loss of appetite, increased risk of acquiring infections etc. The question arises how to increase ferritin level when it is low. In the next section you will find the answer.
How To Raise Ferritin Levels Naturally?
Natural ways to increase ferritin level when it is low:
- Primarily it is important to find the reasons for low ferritin level in the body. It is necessary to cure disorders which cause excessive loss of blood, or diseases that prevent absorption of iron from the intestine. Infections such as malaria can also cause breakdown the blood cells, such infections should be treated immediately. Eating foods rich in iron and taking supplements can increase ferritin level when the cause is dietary deficiency.
- Supplementary iron: When ferritin level is too low, your doctor may prescribe iron supplements to raise it. The proportion of iron intake is directly related to the level of ferritin. Iron is absorbed from the intestine. However, it is essential to take iron supplement only in prescribed dose. This is because excess of iron can lead to iron toxicity.
- Eat iron rich foods: When ferritin level is not too low, eating iron rich foods is a better natural option. Eat foods that contain rich amount of iron in your daily diet. Such foods can be included from both animal and plant sources. Include at least one animal source and one plant source daily in your meals.
- You can choose the animal source from lean meat, chicken, eggs, oysters, crabs, fish, pork, liver etc. Certain vegetables are also rich in iron. They are green leafy vegetables, spinach, broccoli etc. Dried fruits such as figs and dates also contain iron in sufficient amount. Wheat germ, whole grains such as brown rice has plenty of iron in them.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is important as it facilitates easy absorption of iron from the intestine. So increase ferritin level, eat fruits which are naturally packed with abundant vitamin C. Fruits such as oranges, kiwi, grapefruits, strawberry, blueberry have rich amount of vitamin C.
- Cook in iron Pots: Cooking your food in cast iron utensils adds the iron value of food. Foods that have high moisture content can easily absorb iron from the utensil when it is being cooked.
- Avoid foods that hamper iron absorption: Alcohol and caffeine can interfere with absorption of iron, so avoid them when you are on iron therapy. Calcium is known to affect the rate of iron absorption. Therefore if you are taking calcium supplements keep an interval of at least six hours after eating iron rich food or after taking iron supplement.
Consider all the above factors when you want to raise low ferritin level.