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Ferritin stores iron and transports it to where it is required. In blood, it is an important indicator of the total iron stores. However, ferritin also participates in infections, inflammation, and malignancies. Elevated ferritin is often found in disorders with chronic inflammatory states such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Find out why it is important to keep this protein in balance, and which factors increase or decrease ferritin levels.

If you are struggling with chronic health issues – the way I used to – you probably have piles of lab tests that can potentially tell you a lot about your health. Ferritin may be one of them. But doctors never had enough time to explain it properly. They will only notice it if the lab flags your test results as outside of normal. But what if all your results are coming back normal, but you know you are feeling nowhere near healthy? They may even tell you there is nothing wrong with you, and that it’s all in your head – I’ve been there.

Ferritin is an extremely important marker to monitor, especially if you haven’t been leading the best lifestyle or you have known chronic health issues.

Lab Test Analyzer is the tool I wish I had when I was dealing with all my health issues. Instead of normal, it will tell you the optimal values for ferritin and many other lab tests. And if you are outside the optimal range, it will give you actionable tips and recommendations that will help you get there.

What Is Ferritin?

Ferritin is a spherical protein complex. It is the primary iron-storage protein within the cell, that stores iron in a soluble, non-toxic form, and transports it to areas where it is required [R].

Iron can be toxic to cells because of its capacity to generate reactive species, which can directly damage DNA and proteins. Ferritin captures and buffers the iron within cells, and is very important for our survival [R].

Mice deficient in ferritin die in the embryo stage [R].

Ferritin is found in most tissues where it is located inside the cells. Within the cells, ferritin is mostly found in the cellular fluid (cytosol), nucleus, or mitochondria [R].

Mitochondrial ferritin (FtMt) is produced by specific tissues, such as the testis and the brain [R].

Small amounts of ferritin are also secreted into the blood, functioning as an iron carrier. Apart from the blood, ferritin is also secreted into joint (synovial) and spinal fluids [R].

The liver’s stores of ferritin are the primary source of reserve iron in the body [R].



Ferritin Roles/Functions

As previously mentioned, ferritin plays an important role in the storage of cellular iron [R].

It functions in cell detoxification, limiting the formation of reactive oxygen species, and mitigating their damaging effect on cellular structures [R].

By capturing toxic metal ions, ferritin is involved in the antioxidant system of cell defense. Apart from iron, ferritin also regulates the cellular concentration of other transition metals, including beryllium, aluminum, zinc, cadmium, and lead [R].

On the other hand, ferritin outside the cell can function as a highly efficient iron delivery mechanism. Compared to another iron carrier – transferrin, which carries a maximum of 2 iron atoms, a single ferritin molecule can sequester up to 4,500 iron atoms [R].

Blood ferritin, which is believed to be iron-poor, carries much less iron than this, but could nevertheless make a significant impact on iron delivery [R].

Ferritin acts as a buffer against iron deficiency and iron overload [R].

Additionally, it was shown that circulating ferritin may assume roles entirely independent of its classic role as an iron-binding protein [R].

Ferritin may play an important role in the skin defense. Ferritin in the skin is increased by UVA and infrared-A radiation. Increased ferritin following acute UV/IR radiation offers increased protection against subsequent oxidative stress [R,R].

Ferritin is an acute phase reactant and a marker of acute and chronic inflammation, and is nonspecifically elevated in a wide range of inflammatory conditions [R].

One study suggests that blood ferritin actually originates from damaged cells, which reflects cellular damage [R].

Ferritin can behave as a real pro-inflammatory cytokine, activating the NFκB cascade and inducing liver damage [R].

Ferritin can modulate immune function by inhibiting lymphocyte function. Ferritin decreased the number of granulocyte-macrophages, and red blood cell precursors in mice [R].

Ferritin also suppressed immune activity in humans [R].

Ferritin can stimulate blood vessel growth in inflammation, and is desirable in wound healing, but undesirable in tumors [R].

Unless indicated otherwise, the statements in the text below refer to the circulating ferritin found in blood.

Joe’s Experience with Ferritin

Most of my client population have lower ferritin and this is usually because of some kind of intestinal inflammation that is not allowing the person to absorb iron well, or because of conditions like hypothyroidism.

Indeed, research shows that people with IBD, fatigue, hypothyroidism, and fibromyalgia have lower ferritin, and these are common groups among my clients.

When iron (indicated by ferritin) is lower, it can contribute to and exacerbate existing health problems, so you want to get that fixed.

I myself had ferritin on the lower end of the range when I wasn’t as healthy (about 40 to 50).

Some people are trying to get ferritin to 20 ng/ml for “anti-aging purposes,” but given the research cited here, that’s a big mistake.

I personally try to get my ferritin levels over 90 ng/ml, especially because I’m Th1 dominant and more iron is better for me.

Recommended Ferritin Supplements for Increasing Ferritin/Iron Status Without Gut Problems

  • Ferric iron polymaltose complex + heme iron polypeptide [R]
  • Lactoferrin
  • Vitamin C
  • Lysine: The addition of L-lysine to iron supplementation resulted in a significant increase in serum ferritin concentration in some women with chronic hair loss (telogen effluvium), who failed to respond to iron supplementation alone [R]

Normal Reference Ranges for Ferritin (Serum)


Blood ferritin is an indirect indicator of the total amount of iron stored in the body. Therefore, blood ferritin is used as a diagnostic test for iron-deficiency anemia [R].

Ferritin is normally high at birth. Ferritin levels rise during the first 2 months of age and then fall until the end of the first year of life and later infancy. Around 1 year of age, ferritin levels begin to rise again [R].

Normal ferritin blood levels:

  • Men: 18-270 or 30-300 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL)*
  • Women: 18-160 or 10-200 ng/mL*
  • Children (6 months to 15 years): 7-140 ng/mL
  • Infants (1 to 5 months): 50-200 ng/mL
  • Newborns: 25-200 ng/mL

Reference ranges for blood ferritin vary across laboratories, but generally levels of 30 to 300 ng/ml are considered normal for men, and 10 to 200 ng/ml for women [R].

However, ferritin ranges for optimal health are different than the normal ranges.

Our Lab Test Analyzer will tell you if your ferritin in the optimum range, while also allowing you to keep track of your levels, identifying causes of low or high levels, and giving you evidence-based and practical lifestyle, diet, and supplement recommendations.

Note that ferritin increases in response to stressors, such as inflammation or infection. These conditions may change what would otherwise be low ferritin indicating a lack of iron, into a value in the normal range.

Ferritin Deficiency

Blood ferritin anywhere below 12 to 30 ng/ml indicates depletion of iron stores and is a diagnostic criterion for iron deficiency [R,R].

Because it also behaves as an acute phase protein, the levels of ferritin can go up several-fold in response to stress and infections or inflammatory states [R].

In these cases, ferritin stops being an accurate indicator of iron deficiency.

Some studies state that the traditional cutoff point of 12 and 30 ng/ml is too low to detect iron deficiency anemia in the general population, and especially for those with inflammatory or liver diseases. A level higher than approximately 40 ng/ml was suggested to exclude iron deficiency in most patients, and a level higher than 70 ng/ml was suggested to exclude iron deficiency in patients with inflammation or liver diseases [R].

Other than anemia, low ferritin may also indicate hypothyroidism, vitamin C deficiency, or celiac disease [R,R].

Vegetarians can have significantly lower blood ferritin levels, resulting from iron deficiency. One study found iron deficiency in 19% of vegetarians [R].

Ferritin Excess

If ferritin is high, there is iron in excess or else there is an acute inflammatory reaction in which ferritin is mobilized without iron excess.

Ferritin is increased under oxidative stress. It is increased by the antioxidant-responsive element (ARE) [R].

Ferritin, in turn, can increase the liver proinflammatory mediators IL-1b, iNOS, RANTES, IkappaBα, and ICAM1 [R].

Ferritin is used as an indicator for iron overload disorders, such as hemochromatosis or hemosiderosis.

As ferritin is also an acute-phase reactant (a part of body’s response to inflammation), it is often elevated in various diseases. A normal C-reactive protein (CRP) can be used to exclude elevated ferritin caused by acute phase reactions.

Ferritin levels of greater than 1,000 ng/ml are a nonspecific marker of illness, including infections and cancer [R].

However, ferritin over 300 can indicate some inflammation.

Symptoms of Low Ferritin (Serum)

Your doctor may order a ferritin test if you have some of the following symptoms associated with low ferritin levels:

  • Anemia
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • IBD and/or celiac disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Attention issues/ADHD
  • Parkinson’s and/or restless leg syndrome
  • Dizziness
  • Chronic headaches
  • Unexplained weakness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Irritability
  • Leg pains
  • Shortness of breath

Summary of Diseases Associated with Higher Ferritin

We have an in-depth post dedicated to diseases associated with conditions that have higher or lower ferritin.

Circulating ferritin is widely recognized as an acute phase reactant and a marker of acute and chronic inflammation. It is elevated in a wide range of inflammatory conditions, including chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders, acute infections, and malignancy [R].

Common causes of elevated ferritin levels also include obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and daily alcohol consumption [R,R].

The elevated ferritin in these states reflects increased total body iron storage, but paradoxically, these stores are sequestered and not available for red blood cell production. This contributes to the widely-recognized anemia of chronic disease (ACD) [R].

Note that although ferritin levels generally increase in infection, some infections also result in decreased ferritin [R].

  • Inflammatory conditions [R]
  • Chronic kidney disease [R]
  • Rheumatoid arthritis [R]
  • Autoimmune disorders [R]
  • Acute infections [R]
  • Cancer [R,R,R]
  • Anemia of Chronic Disease [R]
  • Type 2 diabetes [R]
  • Metabolic syndrome [R]
  • Atherosclerosis [R]
  • Fatty liver disease [R]
  • Anorexia [R]
  • Graves’ disease [R]
  • Arrhythmias [R]
  • Chronic Hepatitis C infection [R]
  • Hemochromatosis [R]
  • Hemophagocytic syndrome [R]
  • Still’s disease [R]
  • Sideroblastic anemia [R]

Potential Causes of Higher Ferritin

1) Alcohol

Alcohol enhances the absorption of iron.

Alcohol consumption is significantly associated with high ferritin levels [R].

There was a positive relationship between wine intake and concentrations of both ferritin and iron in the blood [R].

In alcohol abuse, ferritin levels are elevated and rapidly decrease with alcohol abstinence [R].

2) Smoking

Women who smoke have higher ferritin and higher body iron compared to nonsmoking women. However, when women smoke during pregnancy, their newborn infants have lower iron stores than those of non-smoking mothers [R].

Tobacco smoking was associated with elevated ferritin concentrations in Parkinson’s disease patients (in this setting smoking had a beneficial effect) [R].

3) Inflammation

Pro-inflammatory cytokines stimulate the production of ferritin, which in inflammation/infection acts as an acute phase reactant [R].

Circulating ferritin production is increased by the cytokines interleukin-1-β (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) [R].

Summary of Diseases Associated with Lower Ferritin

Patients with iron deficiency, as measured by ferritin, have an increased risk of unipolar depressive disorder (OR = 2.34), bipolar disorder (OR = 5.78), anxiety disorder (OR = 2.17), autism spectrum disorder (OR = 3.08), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (OR = 1.67), tic disorder (OR = 1.70), developmental delay (OR = 2.45), and mental retardation (OR = 2.70) [R].

  • Anemia [R]
  • Fatigue [R]
  • Hair loss [RR, R, R]
  • Fibromyalgia [R]
  • IBD [R]
  • Hypothyroidism [R]
  • Depression [R]
  • Anxiety [R]
  • ADHD [R]
  • Celiac disease [RR]
  • Parkinson’s [R]
  • Restless leg syndrome [R]

Low Ferritin Causes Fatigue and Fibromyalgia


Ferritin and iron depletion are found in some fatigue patients.

Intravenous administration of iron improved fatigue in iron-deficient, nonanemic women [R].

Over 80 percent had reduced fatigue after receiving iron.

A couple of studies recommend iron supplementation for women with unexplained fatigue who have ferritin levels below 50 μg/L [R].

Iron is a necessary for serotonin and dopamine production and may have a role in causing fibromyalgia.

The average serum ferritin levels in the fibromyalgia group were 27.3, and 43.8 ng/ml in a healthy group.

Statistical analyses show that ferritin levels below 50 ng/ml caused a 6.5-fold increased risk for fibromyalgia.

Low Iron Can Contribute to IBD

Chronic intestinal bleeding in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may exceed the amount of iron that can be absorbed from the diet, resulting in a negative iron balance [R].

In fact, anemia is a common complication associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The World Health Organization estimates that more than 30% of the population have iron deficiency anemia, yet it remains an undermanaged feature of many gastrointestinal conditions. Also, one-third of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients suffer from recurrent anemia [R].

Almost every anemic patient with IBD demonstrates some degree of iron deficiency as a consequence of dietary restrictions, malabsorption, or intestinal bleeding.

When anemic Crohn’s disease patients were treated with iron sucrose and EPO, the feeling of well-being, mood, physical ability, and social activities improved. Also, individual patients reported relief from disturbed sleep and increased appetite or libido [R].

Iron deficiency may enhance the inflammatory IFNgamma response in Th1 driven inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease [R].

High iron load lowers inflammation by decreasing inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-a, and lowering Th1 and increasing Th2 function [R].

Ferritin Is Lower in Hypothyroidism

Alterations in thyroid status and activity resulted in changes in blood ferritin levels [R].

Subclinical hypothyroidism is associated with iron-deficiency anemia and lower ferritin levels [RR].

Blood ferritin levels increased in hypothyroid patients with Hashimoto’s disease when normal thyroid function was achieved with L-Thyroxine therapy [R].

In patients with Graves’ disease (higher thyroid hormones), ferritin is higher and decreases back to normal when normal thyroid function is achieved by antithyroid drug therapy [R].

Low Ferritin Causes Depression and Anxiety

The average ferritin level in students with depression was significantly lower than healthy ones. Low ferritin increases the odds of depression by 1.92X [R].

The study implies a possible association between depression and decreased ferritin level before the occurrence of anemia [R].

In another study, patients with iron deficiency, as measured by ferritin, have an increased risk of unipolar depressive disorder (OR = 2.34), bipolar disorder (OR = 5.78), and anxiety disorder (OR = 2.17) [R].

The mechanism could be related to lower dopamine and serotonin in iron deficiency.

Low Ferritin Causes ADHD


Iron is associated with dopamine metabolism, and low iron levels might be associated with more significant impairment in dopamine function in subjects with ADHD [R].

Iron deficiency has been associated with attention and behavioral problems and ADHD.

Kids with lower ferritin (average of 18.4 ng/mL) had worse inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and ADHD symptoms [R, R, R].

Children who were on ADHD meds showed a stronger association between ferritin and ADHD symptom severity [R].

These findings add to the growing literature implicating iron deficiency in ADHD [R].

Low Ferritin Causes Hair Loss

Multiple studies have found low ferritin correlating with hair loss [RR, R, R].

In women without systemic inflammation or other underlying disorders, ferritin levels below or equal to 30 ng/mL are strongly associated with hair loss [R].

A total of 210 patients with male and female pattern hair loss were compared to 210 healthy controls. Ferritin concentration was lower in patients with female pattern hair loss (49.27 ng/ml), compared with normal healthy women (77.89 ng/ml).

Among male patients, 22.7% of them showed lower ferritin than 70 ng/ml, while none of the men without hair loss had lower than 70 ng/mL [R].

The average ferritin level in patients with male pattern baldness (37.3 ng/ml) and an autoimmune hair loss disease called alopecia areata (24.9) were statistically significantly lower than in people without hair loss (59.5) [R].

How to Increase Ferritin Levels

In normal subjects, daily iron loss amounts to 1 to 2 mg, and this requires a similar amount of iron to be taken up from the diet [R].

Menstruating women lose more blood than their male counterparts and are therefore at higher risk of iron deficiency [R].

Everyone is different, and our bodies can be complex. If you want to increase your ferritin levels, it’s best to analyze them with Lab Test Analyzer. Our tool will compute, based on this and your other results, the best steps you can take that will bring you back to optimal.

1) Iron Supplements

Supplementing with 30 mg/d of iron for 90 days increased ferritin concentration in schoolchildren with low iron stores, and this effect persisted 6 months after supplementation [R].

Oral iron supplements commonly contain iron in the form of ferrous salts (ferrous sulphate, ferrous gluconate, and ferrous fumarate). All ferrous compounds are oxidized in the gut, releasing reactive radicals as byproducts. These will attack the gut wall and produce a range of gastrointestinal symptoms and discomfort [R].

This problem is especially pronounced in IBD patients where oral iron may enhance gut inflammation [R].

Ferric iron polymaltose complex or heme iron polypeptide are also available, and may present safer and better tolerated alternatives [R].

Another good alternative is intravenous iron supplementation [R].


  • Ferric iron polymaltose complex + heme iron polypeptide [R]
  • Lactoferrin – formulas with infants fed lactoferrin had higher ferritin levels [R,R]

2) Iron-Rich Foods


  • Dietary iron occurs in 2 forms: Heme (from meat, poultry, and fish) and non-heme (mostly from plants) [R].
  • Non-heme iron absorption depends on many factors, including the presence of stomach acid and vitamin C. Inhibitors such as phytic acid and polyphenols (in vegetables) reduce non-heme absorption [R].
  • Heme iron is released after mechanical and enzymatic digestion of myoglobin found in meat and fish [R].

Consuming iron-rich foods improves iron stores and ferritin levels. These include green leafy vegetables, cocoa powder and dark chocolate, oatmeal, cereals, wheat germ, beans and tofu, lamb and beef, nuts, pumpkin and squash seeds, liver and mollusks, among others.

Red meat consumption correlates significantly with ferritin in the blood [R].

Meat is not only a source of iron itself, but it can help you absorb non-heme iron from plant based foods 57% better from a 75 g portion [R].

In one experiment, beef protein enhanced iron absorption 80% better than did chicken protein.

The increased absoprtion of iron come from the protein and fat in meat [RR].

Chicken, salmon, and pork also increase iron absorption.

3) Vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) increases the bioavailability of iron and its absorption from dietary sources [R].

Ascorbic acid uptake induces both iron-independent and iron-dependent ferritin production [R].

4) Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene

In multiple human studies, simultaneous use of iron and vitamin A supplements seemed to be more effective to prevent iron deficiency anemia than the use of these nutrients alone [R].

There are some confounding variables in some of the studies, however.

Beta-carotene significantly increases absorption of iron. In the presence of phytates, polyphenols, or tannins, beta-carotene generally overcame the inhibitory effects in humans [R, R].

5) Sugar/Fructose

Evidence that simple sugars such as glucose and fructose affect iron bioavailability first arose in the 1960s from work showing that sugars were able to form stable, soluble complexes [R].

Studies show that sugar, especially fructose, increases iron bioavailability [R].

Consuming iron with fruit can be a good idea.


Adding 1 g of citric acid to a meal containing 3 or more mg of iron could help iron absorption [R].

L-alanine increases ferritin [R].

A copper deficiency can reduce iron absorption in rats [R].

How to Decrease Ferritin

If you want to decrease your ferritin levels, first analyzing them with Lab Test Analyzer is your best bet.

Because there is no excretory route, iron level is regulated by iron uptake. If iron absorption is not tightly regulated, iron overload and associated toxicity occur [R].

1) Coffee

Coffee interferes with the utilization of supplemental iron [R].

Pregnant women with a high frequency of coffee consumption had lower values of body iron [R,R].

2) Green Tea

Tea contains tannins and polyphenols, which inhibit the absorption of iron. However, tea does not seem to impact ferritin levels in healthy adults. It may only lower ferritin in those with iron deficiency or iron overload.

Ferritin concentrations were not related to black, green, or herbal tea consumption in healthy adults [R].

However, ferritin displayed a negative correlation with the consumption of tea in the elderly [R].

Tea consumption was associated with lower ferritin in groups with high prevalence of iron deficiency [R].

In those at risk for iron overload, tea consumption may lower ferritin concentrations [R].

EGCG found in tea markedly inhibits intestinal heme iron absorption (by reducing iron export in Caco-2 cells) [R].

3) Fiber

Fiber impairs the absorption of iron.

Intake of fiber-poor fruits, vegetables, and juices were associated with higher ferritin concentrations in premenopausal women [R].

4) Whole Grains (Phytic Acid)

Phytic acid is common in pretty much all plant-based foods, including whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Phytic acid is a potent inhibitor of native and fortification iron absorption [R].

In people, there is a dose-dependent inhibitory effect of phytate on iron absorption [R].

Iron absorption increased four- to fivefold in humans when phytic acid was reduced from its normal amount in soy [R].

5) Exercise


Ferritin increases acutely immediately after exercise but returns to baseline a few hours later [R].

On the other hand, long-term, routine exercise lowers ferritin along with other acute phase reactants [R].

Regular physical activity, especially extensive running, increases iron loss. Mild iron deficiency (abnormal blood ferritin and normal hemoglobin concentration) and sometimes true iron deficiency anemia can occur, especially when nutritional iron intake is insufficient and iron demand is increased because of growth (children, adolescents) or additional iron loss (by menstruation) [R].

Iron deficiency is common in athletes involved in endurance sports. In female marathon runners, the prevalence is as high as 28%, compared to 11% in the general female population [R].

Endurance athletes need more iron because their training causes an expansion in the amount of red blood cells. This means that their hemoglobin levels may seem normal but their ferritin levels (a marker of the iron reserves stored in the body) may be low.

Low ferritin with hemoglobin in the mid- to upper normal range, and low ferritin with hemoglobin in the low normal range are relative indications for iron supplementation in athletes [R].

6) Calcium


Calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, may decrease the absorption of iron.

Ferritin levels were negatively associated with the amount of cow’s milk consumed and calcium intake in 18-month old children [R].

Pregnant women who had consumed cow’s milk at least 3 times a week had lower levels of ferritin and body iron [R].

A diet rich in milk and yogurt increased the risk of low iron status by 50% in women in New Zealand [R].

However, although some short-term effects have been observed, long-term calcium supplementation was not observed to negatively impact iron status and ferritin concentration [R].

7) Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral commonly found in multi-mineral supplements. Zinc is important for immune function.

Zinc may interfere with iron absorption because of similar chemical properties and shared absorption pathways.

In human trials, zinc supplementation alone does not appear to have a clinically important negative effect on iron status. However, when zinc is given with iron, iron indicators do not improve as greatly as when iron is given alone [R].

8) Manganese

Manganese is an essential mineral commonly found in multi-mineral supplements.

Manganese may interfere with iron absorption because of similar chemical properties and shared absorption pathways.

In humans, manganese inhibited iron absorption dose dependently both in solutions and in a hamburger meal. Manganese has a strong direct competitive inhibition of iron absorption [R].

9) Magnesium

Some types of common magnesium supplements, such as magnesium oxide, can impair iron absorption in cellular studies [R].

10) Curcumin

Curcumin, a polyphenol found in turmeric, binds to iron and can cause iron deficiency in rats [R].

It can also help rats with iron overload [R].

In a model of borderline iron deficiency, rats fed curcumin had an induced full-blown deficiency [R].

11, 12, & 13) Peppermint, Cocoa, and Chamomile

Compared with humans who just drank water [R]:

  • Beverages containing 20 to 50 mg total polyphenols/serving reduced iron absorption from the bread meal by 50 to70%
  • Beverages containing 100 to 400 mg total polyphenols/serving reduced iron absorption by 60 to 90%

Inhibition of iron by teas (same concentration of polyphenols) [R]:

  • Black tea = 79 to 94%
  • Peppermint tea = 84%
  • Pennyroyal = 73%
  • Cocoa = 71%
  • Vervain = 59%
  • Lime flower = 52%
  • Chamomile = 47%

14) Eggs

Egg yolks decrease the absorption of iron [R].

15) Grapeseed Extract (and Anthocyanins)

Grape seed extract (GSE) markedly inhibits intestinal heme iron absorption (by reducing iron export in Caco-2 cells) [R].

Regular consumption of dietary vitamin C can easily counteract the inhibitory effects of low concentrations of dietary polyphenols on heme iron absorption, but cannot counteract the inhibitory actions of high concentrations of polyphenols [R].

16) Chili

Chili is capable of inhibiting iron absorption in a study performed on young women [R].

17) Aspirin

Subjects who took >7 aspirins/week had significantly lower ferritin than nonusers, who took <1 aspirin/week [R].

This effect of aspirin on ferritin was more marked in diseased subjects with inflammation, infection, or liver disease [R].

18) Blood Donation


Ferritin levels are lowered after donating blood.

A decrease in ferritin is dependent both on the number of blood donations as well as the periodicity between them [R].

19) Estrogen and Progestin Hormone Therapy

Estrogen may lower ferritin.

Current users of oral conjugated estrogen plus progestin had significantly lower ferritin concentrations than did current users of estrogen only [R].

Longer times since menopause and longer times since the last hormone use were associated with higher ferritin concentrations [R].


Risedronate treatment is associated with significantly decreased ferritin levels in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and cardiovascular risk factors [R].

Irregular Ferritin Levels?

If you ever felt like you should be getting more out of your lab results, now you finally can. Using Lab Test Analyzer, you can get up-to-date scientific information about your lab results. In addition, you will get both lifestyle tips and natural solutions to help you optimize your health. You can also rely on our science-based Optimal Ranges to prevent potential health issues and maximize your overall wellbeing.

If you got your blood test results and you’re not sure what to make of them, you need to check out our cutting-edge tool: Lab Test Analyzer.

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  • Les Lavy

    I just got blood work done for the first time in 4 years. (I know. Bad me) My ferritin levels were high at 321. Two months ago, my acohol consumption was high for the most part. The past 2 months its been once or twice a week. Just trying to figure out if the increase is due to that or would it have gone down by now if that was the reason. trying to isolate the reason why its high. Thanks!

  • Tom

    Daniel your assertion of ferritin over 50ng is wrong is challenged by Joe who cites 90. I thought 50ng and I have hemochromatosis, which I control and will be publishing a paper after 15 years of research and testing on myself.

    Testosterone is a hepcidin antagonist. Hepcidin is the master control hormone of iron produced in the liver.

    There is no way to give a pat answer. iron and iron management is a very personal issue that takes into consideration too many variables for a one size fits all. I am close to mastering hemochromatosis, after a decade and a half. Once I develop a solution that produces more ferritin I can publish my paper.

    I noticed in this blog Joe cites L-alanine to produce more ferritin. Has anyone had sucsess with using L-alanine to increase ferritin?

  • Melissa

    I have recently discovered my low ferritin level came about due to supplementing with a high dose of curcumin for some time. Thought I would share since others may be struggling to get their numbers up while supplementing with curcumin or turmeric. It may not be the cause of lower ferritin, but it could be a factor.

  • Carl

    Many food items being suggested as good providers of Iron, absorption, yet in the section that follows, those very same items are described as Iron absorption inhibitors. This one very conflicting article!

  • Zoya sharma

    My ferritin has always been on the lower side so i take medicine for that. last year it was around 100 ng/ml and my hair was in good condition. Around 1 moth ago i again experienced hair fall and got my ferritin tested again .It came out to be 60ng/ml . So does that mean i need to maintain it near about 90-95?

  • Bruce Montgomery

    I have a iron overload reading of ,580 the last 2 visits to the doctor l have a fatty liver and was but now have quit drinking alcohol ( white wine ) altogether all my other blood tests where good with my GGT being a little high of 80
    The doctor has told me that it is the alcohol and to stop immediately so l am,l had another ultrasound today is showing the same as a.year ago. My mom recently passed away and was drinking about 1.5 liters a day hopefully my numbers for iron overload come down when he tests me again in the next 6 months.

  • Darren Hartling

    HI. My ferritin level is 6. should be ( 17-464 ). My Iron level is 5.7 ……( 8.8-32.4 )
    I am very tired and short of breath all the time. but I still go lobster fishing every day. I haul 250 traps each day for 63 days straight. I still have to work and pay the bills but, it is (sealing) hard. please excuse the French.

  • Betsy

    My ferratin level is 600 but I’m very anemic. I won’t qualify for phlebotomy due to my anemia. I am so so tired, literally exhausted every day. I have no drive for anything. I’ve had endoscopy, colonoscopy and there seems to be no bleeding from inside. Any suggestions because I want my life back!!

  • Sharon Dowell

    This is the first time I have seen the ER doctor check my Ferrin and iron levels among other blood protein levels. My Ferrin was 19 and my iron was 65. I’m thinking this could explain why I am staying so tired and anxious. I too suffer from hair loss. The hospital doctors didn’t even mention these levels were on the low end if normal for the facility I was at. Nationally, I am well below normal levels. They did not seemed concerned. Should I be?

  • Kaitlin

    Hi Julie!

    I’m in a similar position as you! I’m 34 years old and I have a lot of hair loss and my ferritin and other iron levels are very similar. I truly think my hair loss is from the low ferritin. Mine is 23. I don’t have any other health concerns. Have you found anything that has been helpful since last year?

    Thank you!

  • Kaitlin

    Hi Melissa,

    Your post is very encouraging!
    My hair is falling out, quickly, and my ferritin is 23 and I think that is the main cause. My iron is 183.
    My ferritin is low enough for an iron infusion, but my iron is too high, so they wont let me have an iron infusion.
    Did you have low ferritin and low iron in order to get approved for the iron drip or is the drip different than an infusion?

    Thank you!

  • Nikki

    You could have an auto immune deficiency but I’m not a Dr. I had to beg and beg my dr to check me for staph infection because I was not feeling good. It turned out no infection but I did have blood clots. So if your dr does not seem interested or want to pursue your symptoms then go to the ER or just be very insistent with your dr until you wear them down. That’s what I had to do. If you like coffee, drink more. It’s supposed to help lower ferritin. Avoid red meat. Basically be less healthy which is bad advice but maybe temporarily stop exercising for a few weeks. Again, bad advice but you sound desperate and I want to help.

  • Nikki

    If your period continues that long (3 weeks) have your red blood cell counts checked. I went after 11 days of continual bleeding and my RBC was very low. Now I’m anemic and my ferritin is low. If your Dr is not listening go to the ER. That’s what I did.

  • Carolynn

    My Ferritin was down to 14 at one point. I was exhausted and was having a tough time with working and being a Mom. I was able to get iron infusions and after my levels were in the 60s I was able to keep up with the demands of life. Getting iron infusions in the USA is impossible so I traveled to my husband’s country Switzerland. The Swiss believed my reports of exhaustion and helped me to refill my iron stores when even I was here essentially restoring the quality of life. It appears I have mysteriously stabilized during my recent check. I hope you find a solution to give your vitality back.

  • Daniel

    If your ferritin is high, you have too much iron. Serum iron does not tell you how much iron you have stored in your body. Any ferritin level over 50 is too high. I would say the lower it is, the better, unless maybe it’s single digits.

  • Anne

    Hemochromatosis. Iron overload disorder

  • lyuba

    Hi Bobby, you should really check for an inflammatory liver condition like hepatitis. I am not a doctor, but unless your actual iron (not ferritin) is high, then it sounds like an inflammatory conditio .

  • Tim

    Hey Tyler, I’m no doctor but I’m an 18 year old guy and I’ve been dealing with low ferritin for a very long time I have heard from my natropath that you can get iron transfusions or maybe inhections from a medical doctor if iron supplements don’t work. I would highly recommend natropaths sir I hope you get better.

  • Tyler B

    I am an extremely competitive and successful high school (16 years old) distance runner. This past September I was diagnosed with an iron deficiency in the middle of cross country season as after races I would be completely depleted not being able to walk on my own for 30 minutes to an hour, extreme stomach problems the following 6-7 hours after the race, uncontrolled breathing for 30 minutes to an hour, and decreasing overall performance (I went from a top 3 runner in the state to 5th on my team as time passed). When they concluded I had an iron deficiency with ferritin of 42 in mid September which is too low for an elite distance runners I was placed on medication to increase my ferittin (contained about 260 mg of ferritin and took 3 times per day). I continued running the rest of the season until after state in late October then took a 3 week break all while taking this iron supplement. After the three week (mid November) break I got my iron levels tested again and the ferritin was at 39. The doctors and my nutritionist presumed this was because my iron probably decreased so much during the season that my iron was actually now getting better it just is lower then than it was previously because of so much loss during the season. Then they told me I could start light running to start training for track while continuing to take my iron I had been taking. Over the next month with this light training I actually began to think i felt better and more energized than I was during the cross country season (probably because I was telling myself I should start feeling better). Although, in late December the doctors tested my iron and now my ferritin was even lower at 32. This they could not explain at all because they thought that I would start at least getting a little better, not significantly worse. After this they told me to completely stop running and for some reason to stop taking iron supplements which started on December 29th. Since then I have not been running at all. They have tested me for many things like celiac disease and all has came back negative. Also a symptom i notice you put on here that I have every day is headaches that never go away which started to occur as I got my iron defeciancy. If you have any ideas on what could help me improve my iron it would be greatly appreciated.

  • Philip

    Hi Richard, no have not found out more….made the mistake of giving blood after getting the high result, before visiting my doctor and despite saying that I had just done this, their view was if the blood test they ordered me was ‘normal’ then everything was fine. Needless to say my level was down to 318, which in the UK is considered normal but which I consider to be high particularly after just having given blood, but doctor was simply not interested. I am really puzzled and cannot find anything about this anywhere…high ferritin appears to be highly associated with inflammation yet all other markers (CRP, ESR, cholesterol ratios, gamma GT) are all pretty good so I am really stumped, don’t really know what to do now!

  • Eyahra

    Hi I contracted a terrible flu, and decided to go see the dr .when she heard of my tingly legs she tested my iron and other hormones and bloods.. My hmg came back at 6 reg was 9.0-30.4 and my ferretin at 26 ref 15-160. I’m on an iron supplement twice a day containing iron glycinate and iron aspartate…iodide drops , and dhea 7 for low cortisol. The dizziness and lightheadedness and fatigue comes and goes but seems to be decreasing, my stool isn’t black on these pills and that’s confusing to me. I’m a vegetarian and having gerd and being on omeprazole didn’t help along with a 3 week menstrural cycle. Pls advise me on the best way to get a quicker recovery, and is it possible to build my reserves alone without a transfusion and how long would it take for me to feel normal again .

    1. Helen

      Hi, you can ask Joe inside of VIP: or over at

  • Bobby

    Please Help, I have high ferritin of 640 but my iron in the blood is normal. I have all the said symptoms which make me uncomfortable. I have liver problem, SGT ALT not normal a bit but ultrasound scan doesn’t show fatty liver just that i feel hotness in the liver-area.

    I have been STUPIDLY taking 1000mg daily of Vitamins-C in the past but has stopped it, at that same time I was consuming green vegetables and foods high in iron including popcorn and peanuts.

    I think my doctor doesn’t know what to say about this high ferritin and won’t permit me donating blood as he said the excess iron is not in the blood and weekly phlebotomy may not be the solution. I am in Asia, possibly some doctors are outdated so I decided to search online….

    1. What could be the cause of my high ferritin of 640?
    2. What can I do to bring it down to normal to 60?
    3. Turmeric also contains iron and mixing it with black pepper powder will increase it’s potency but black pepper also contains iron……Will it be advisable to take this?
    4. From another review it said if iron in my blood is normal range while ferritin is high that until i drain the iron in my blood to anemia before the ferritin will come out of my organs where it stored, is this correct?
    5. If the iron in blood is normal range while I have high ferritin of 640, will donating blood make difference here?
    6. Could it be possible that I have fatty liver but not seen via the ultrasound scan or doesn’t show the mass? I am confused if liver inflammatory could be the cause or vitamins-C supplement caused it.

    Please help as I am really not happy about this, won’t even allow me sleep well & Melatonin doesn’t help.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Helen

      Hi, you can ask Joe inside of VIP: or over at

  • James

    Hi guys . I have a high ferritain of 700. I have been tested for hemochomotosis and the iron is spot on. They are now wanting me to retake another ferritain test.if it’s still night they are testing for everything out there with a liver scan as well. Any advice

  • Anne

    What is IP6 gold please

  • richard

    Hi Philip, I have exactly the same condition as you. I have Ferritin levels tested twice, and both times are exceeding 600 in reading. Did you find out anything new?


  • Daniel

    Those of you saying that Ferritin needs to be 70 or higher are wrong. 70 should probably be the highest. 20-60 is probably the best level. Iron is extremely toxic. You need just enough, but not more.

    ” The disease causing dangers of high iron levels
    August 10, 2013 by Dr. Thomas Levy
    While essential for health, you are only rarely deficient in iron. Iron is the classical double-edged sword. Similar to calcium and copper, a fairly small amount is needed to support normal health, and an increased level of it is toxic, with even higher levels producing greater toxicity.

    The danger of high iron levels

    When too much iron is present, increased oxidative stress is always present as well. Increased oxidative stress is always the stage on which disease is based. However, unless you have a documented iron-deficiency anemia, which is very easy to diagnose on routine laboratory testing, you should never supplement iron.

    Surprising to most people, iron is essential for the growth of pathogenic microbes and all cancer cells. Not only is iron highly toxic in the tissues when present in excess, it is also the most vital nutrient for promoting nearly all infections as well as all cancers. Many of the most effective antibiotics are actually iron chelators, meaning they effectively starve the invader by taking away much of its necessary fuel, iron.

    Similarly, cancer cells never thrive in an iron-poor environment

    It’s difficult to avoid iron – even if you want to

    Modern medicine, in all its wisdom, found that many third world populations were iron-deficient (and had iron deficiency anemia) due to diets profoundly depleted in iron and basic nutrition. Somehow, it was then decided that iron deficiency had to be avoided at all costs, and mass “fortification” of many of the foods eaten today began. As a result, chronic iron toxicity has become the norm.

    It’s important to note: excess iron promotes all chronic degenerative diseases, not just cancer and infections.

    Heart disease is also especially sensitive to the negative effects of excess iron, and atherosclerotic plaques have been documented to have a exceptionally high iron content, supporting this connection.

    Getting your iron level tested is easy

    The most accurate indicator of iron status in the body is the “serum ferritin test”. Most laboratories list the normal range for this test to be roughly 30 to 400 ng/cc. A ferritin test reflective of truly normal iron stores should be in the 25 to 50 ng/cc range, as long as there is no evidence of an iron deficiency anemia having developed.

    Remember, however, that the normal range of a blood test is designed to make the vast majority of the population “normal.” But, what happens when the vast majority of the population is abnormal? The answer is that a grossly abnormal laboratory result, like a ferritin level of 390 to 400 ng/cc, is simply declared to be normal.

    What is the next step?

    First of all, find a doc who will work with you and discuss all your concerns with you. Many good ones can be found at the link I just provided for you.

    Check your ferritin levels, and see if your doc is comfortable with it. Regardless, however, blood donation on a regular basis will lower elevated levels, and your blood donation will actually end up helping you as much or more than the person that receives it. You may also want to take inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) – a naturally occurring iron and calcium chelator – about a gram or so taken on an empty stomach, will gradually lower ferritin levels.

    A good health investment, not only for eliminating iron from your body, but also for eliminating a wide array of stored toxins, is a far-infrared sauna.

    And, when ferritin levels are very elevated, even by regular standards, prescription injected or oral chelation agents are available.

    References: – See more at:

  • Philip

    I would be interested in feedback on high ferratin levels, just tested at 554 ug/L which suggests inflamatory issues but all other markers suggest not – Gamma GT is 21 IU/L, Trigleceride/HDL ratio is 0.47, HDL total cholesterol is 3.6 and hs-CRP is 1.5 mg/L. I’m an intermittent faster, low carb/high fat diet for the last 5 years and whilst 55 years old, very fit with 17% body fat, fasting glucose at 4.2 and often in ketosis, so insulin resistance appears not to be an issue. I gues potentially heomachromatosis, which I’m trying to get tested for by my doctor, but is there anything else that could be causing this? Looking at the ways of decreasing ferratin on this site, I’m already doing a lot of these – I eat huge amount of egg yolks, take magnesium, drink coffee, yet still have super high ferratin???

  • Diana Rousseau

    Hi, Daniel – I’m interested in hearing more about what you eat – I’ve been a vegan for over ten years but recently am having issues with low ferritin and dramatic and sudden hair loss. I eat a lot of beans and greens but more quinoa than rice. I’m getting pressure from doctors and others to abandon my vegan diet (which I am not going to do) so it is encouraging to read your post …although for women low iron may be more of an issue.

  • amy

    I P 6 gold i take to lower iron and ferritin dropped to 16 so it is very potent.! l also, green tea with meals, rye and cranberries are all helpful as well

  • Melissa

    There are way better ways to increase your ferritin. I was a 7! my hair falling out in clumps and now still shedding as I am low again.
    1. Cook in cast iron pots and pans (note many of these non-stick pans are killing our thyroids) if not iron cook in stainless steel, high quality.
    2. GET AN IRON IV DRIP! Best dang thing I have done for myself. The depression and lack of sleep is intense from having low ferritin. Don’t suffer!
    -Sodium Ferric Gluconate 5ml by Watson is what my doctor uses here in Santa Monica CA. I love her to say the least! Happy to pass on the 411 of her if you want.
    -administered in 150ml LRS over 20-30 mins no problem.
    Note: higher dose requires a crash cart, I am about to go get a high dose as my levels are insane low again.
    Do not be fearful of what you read online about IV drip iron, I was and as a medical researcher of course I thought the worse. It was easy! Start with the low dose (cost range $200-$500 depending on your doctor)
    Hope this 411 helps.
    Much Love and Light (oh and hair growth! lol)

  • AF

    Thanks to all for comments. I’m 54 and I have just been advised that my Ferritin level was at 815 up from 350 last year. I am a heavy drinker and I take vitamin C and Magneesium supplements and I am also on 10mg of statin. What prompted me to talk to my doctor was feeling tired all the time and wanting to take naps. I’m due back in 6 weeks for a retest. I think my drinking is the real issue. Any advice? A

  • Julie

    Hi Madi,

    I was having the same issue. Normal (within range) iron number but low ferritin. Although it seems counter-intuitive, you might try supplementing with iron to bring up your ferritin. Increasing your iron will “push” more of it into your ferritin “bucket” since that’s where surplus iron is stored. These were my initial labs in May, 2017…

    MAY 2017
    Iron, Total 143 mcg/dL
    Transferrin 263 mg/dL
    TIBC Calc 329 mcg/dL
    Iron Saturation 43 %
    Ferritin 30.6 ng/mL

    Starting in June, 2017 I took an iron cocktail of: L-lysine (500mg), Vitamin C (500mg), and Iron Bisglycinate (25mg) three times per day. I avoided anything that hindered iron absorption within 2 hours of taking each “cocktail” and started eating red meat and anything else that boosted iron naturally. It is now October, 2017 and my labs are…

    OCT 2017
    Iron, Total 105 mcg/dL
    Transferrin 248 mg/dL
    TIBC Calc 310 mcg/dL
    Iron Saturation 34 %
    Ferritin 87.3 ng/mL

    SIDE NOTE: I believe ferritin needs to stay between 70-90 for 3-6 months (if not longer) to promote hair growth…as this has been the case for me and others.

    ALSO: You may want to test yourself for the MTHFR gene mutation. There has been some research that suggests low ferritin but normal iron levels could be a result of this…among other issues.

    I hope this helps! 🙂

  • madi

    I am trying to figure out what it means to have low ferritin but normal iron, total and saturation. I was anemic several years ago from 13-19 and after years of trying various iron supplements they did an infusion in September of 2014 and I eat a (plant) iron-rich diet and my iron levels have stayed in the normal range, but for about a year now my ferritin has been below 10, with the last test putting it at a 3. My iron binding capacity is also slightly high for the last few months. I can’t find any info about this sort of combination, can anyone point me in the right direction?

  • Jen B

    Unless we are talking about a different unit of measure than I am used to, this is incorrect. 10 is low, I was just infused at 8 and felt awful with it being lower than 15. High can be bad too but around 150 is awesome. I have been fighting and researching this problem for years.

  • Daniel

    Having a low ferritin is far better than having a high one. Ferritin should never be higher than 50 or 60. If it’s at least 10, or 20, that should be good enough. I would say to not take ANY iron supplements. But if you are still going to, than you definitely must not take ferrous sulfate. That is the most toxic of all.

  • Alexa

    Hello. My ferritin was a 2 also. I can’t tolerate ferrous sulfate. There are many other kinds of iron you can take. I have tried polysaccharide iron and iron bisglycinate. I can tolerate both pretty well. As my ferritin goes up I can sleep much better at night, my hair is growing again and I have more energy. I had doctors tell me that my ferritin wouldn’t make me tired. Ha. WRONG. Aso it ferririn is very important for healthy vaginal tissues.

  • Julie

    Thank you for your informative article! I’m a 51 yr old, non-menopausal woman and currently have a hemoglobin level of 8.0 and ferritin of 2.0. I’ve suffered from almost all of the symptoms you described above. My physician is attributing my condition to a recent heavy period, however, I’ve had all these conditions for a couple of years. I’ve been prescribed meds for ears ringing, hands trembling, anxiety, water weight gain and muscle relaxers for restless legs within the past 2 years. When I recently had my blood tested and it revealed such a low ferritin level I was thrilled to finally see that all of these things seem to be symptoms and if that is increased, hopefully I will be able to discontinue all these medications. My hopes were quickly squashed, however, when the only thing my doctor wants me to change is to increase my daily intake of ferrous sulfate from 325 mg to 650 mg. I have such a terrible time tolerating even 325 so I have been very sick for several days since I increased my dosage. Please tell me there’s a better way to increase my ferritin and iron levels. After reading this I am convinced that’s the missing link to improve my poor quality of life.

  • Suzanne Grabber

    This is a very interesting article. Must wanted to say thanks. My ferritin is of course, low, and you have helped me understand a lot.

  • Kim Johnson

    My Ferratin level went from 3 to 256 (after 3 rounds of IV therapy) 3 week span
    I HONESTLY do not feel any different!
    My doctor has done a ultrasound of my stomach and that test came back unremarkable.
    Has this happened to anyone else?
    I do not understand how it can fluctuate so much, yet my body feels the same:(

  • AaH

    Any reader of Joe’s (awesome) blog have experience to comment: Been on cholestyramine for 18 months for shortened bowel syndrome. My resection (Crohn’s inactive for +25yrs) was back in 1989 and have coped pretty well but when a routine checkup put me in touch with my gastroenterologist after 20 years, he suggested the bile sequestrant and I sure did enjoy the relief. Two months ago came down with peripheral neuropathy (hands, feet) and extreme sensitivity to sun exposure. (Am an Irish redhead so cautious with sun anyway but as a commuter cyclist, had to cover up like a freakin’ deep sea diver.) Didn’t put the neuropathy together with a low ferritin reading (39) right away. All other hematology is high normal which, again, could be the athletics factor – no shortage of oxygen, etc.. Never had low ferritin until now and I realize it could be the wear of vigorous cycling but am just suspicious of cholestyramine’s capacity to bind with nutrients. My diet is textbook perfect for me: not vegetarian and I have to follow low fodmaps protocols. Any thoughts? Similar reality? Thx in advance.

  • Pisa

    An elevated Ferritin of 300 indicates an inflammatory condition, and it is not a healthy ferritin level.

  • Daniel

    I eat completely vegan, no heme iron from any animal products. I eat nothing fortified with iron, no enriched white flour or white rice, and no processed foods fortified with iron. My diet is super high in phytic acid from eating lots of whole grains and legumes. I eat more phytic acid than almost anyone else. Despite all that, my ferritin test just came back at 304. Anyone who says that veganism causes iron deficiency clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

  • Dale

    Find another doctor. Your ferritin count should be no higher than 300 at any given time. Sounds like you may have hemacromatosis.

  • Cheri Beck

    Menopausal female. I have had low Ferritin for years. Ranges from 8 – 30. I have no stamina. I exercise and am wiped out for a day or two after. I understand the relationship between my hypothyroidism, gluten sensitivity etc. I have had 3 hematologists ( I used to work in the practice) tell me it was just a matter of time before I became full blown anemic. I never did. That was years ago. The rest of my iron panel is normal. They gave me iron infusions but nothing stuck and I was afraid to keep pumping iron into my body without dealing with the root cause of the Ferritin deficiency. I am wondering if I should take some iron glycinate to help with the fatigue/tinnitus/exercise intolerance? Great article by the way.
    Also, is magnesium deficiency related to Ferritin deficiency in any way do you know? Thank you!

  • ann

    Hi – my 17 yo daughter diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 8 months ago, Hospitalized 3X since then, blood transfusion and 2 iron infusions 5 months ago. Hemoglobin OK, barely, last month but ferritin level falling. Was 15 2 months ago, then 11 a month ago. She has been taking 2 iron sulfate pills a day for a couple months. I am wondering if a different supplement would be better – her Dr. does not want to give her another iron infusion. She also has frequent heavy periods – is starting progesterone only birth control pills. Gets Remicade infusion monthly and takes Uceris, a gut-focused steroid. Lots of hair loss, fatigue, Would appreciate your thoughts.

  • JD

    Hi there – I just recently had some blood work done as part of my 2 yr follow-up for my gastric bypass surgery (2015). For the first year all my numbers looked great. The latest results have me worried, based upon my ferritin level. Below are my numbers compared from 2016 to 2017. My Iron level looked ok, but my ferritin DROPPED in one year. Over the past 6-8 mos my energy level has dropped,, but I figured that was due to family issues (a couple of deaths) that we have had to go through. Thoughts… Thank you!!

    Iron Saturation: 2016 = 40% 2017 = 25%
    TIBC Iron Binding Capacity: 2016 = 279 ug/dL, 2017 = 381 ug/dl
    Ferritin: 2016 = 145ng/ml, 2017 = 11ng/ml

  • Lorene

    The curcumin doesn’t seem to be helping my ferritin level at all. I was 190 in late May. Today, July 28, I’m 273. I have an appointment with my MD on August 9 so I may have to ask him about a phlebotomy. In the meantime, I’ll reread your article. Maybe there’s a clue there.

  • Julie

    I’m thankful your Dr discovered this. I’m assuming your Thyroid and Vitamin D levels were checked as well. Low Vitamin D will also cause heart palpitations and arythmia. Often, these three go hand in hand.

  • KXA

    I’ve had low ferritin for many years – usually single digits to teens or twenties – I’ve started digging around on the internet and came across a blogs which may be helpful – I will be following a cocktail 2 -3 times daily and will advise how my ferritin does – Cocktail that did the trick for others – L-Lysine 500mg / 1000mg of Vitmin C / Ferrits Ferrous Fumarate (Ferrous Sulfate did not do the trick for others and it hasn’t worked too well for me either) – I will also supplement with Thornes Basic B-Complex and Ferasorb. I will also try taking Ruma Guayusa Teas as they contain caffeine but no tannins which inhibit iron absorption.

  • Lizz

    I’ve had some light headed sensationa but I thought it was from a newer pain medicine given to manage flare ups. I have a lot of the symptoms listed for low ferritin. I was the one who requested my doc to order the ferritin test after feeling extremely depleted and realizing how unusually heavy my flow was during my cycle. I’m 31 , 5″4 and 210 lbs roughly… I know I could lose weight to help things but it’s easier said. I do keep a 3-5 day of 20-40 min of light to moderate exercise weekly schedule .

  • Lizz

    My ferritin is at a 9. I have hashi’s, fibro, and some ibs -c with dysphagia from suspected eosiniphilic esophagitis. I just wonder if I had low ferritin all along… these are all likely Co existing conditions, however it’s good to find out another piece of information of this puzzle! I will hopefully hear back in a few more days from my doc and have her explain what she might recommend.

  • Julie

    Update: I decided to take 25mg of Ferrous Bisglycinate, L-Lysine, and Yellowdock in orange juice per day. I take this little cocktail first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. I also avoid dairy and gluten, to help the iron absorb, and have been eating more red meat. Within 5 weeks my ferritin went from 30 to 45 and hair shedding is slowing (not as much loss). Iron numbers stayed within range. So, to conclude, taking iron supplementation with co-factors is helping raide my ferritin without raising my other iron numbers.

  • Tina

    My ferritin level was 2600 a month ago and over 2000 a few months ago. My docs don’t seem concerned,. I am a 12 yesr survivor of AML(leukemia) had a non-related stem cell transplant in 2005. I did have a slight infection both times my level was tested. (One time respiratory & the other a root canal infection) could that have raised my ferritin level that much?? My liver blood tests are always
    Normal. Thank you.

  • Erin

    I was told to try chaste tree tincture and it has really helped my period to normalize. It doesn’t seem as heavy. And I have started my period on the new moon for a few months now.

  • Stacy

    Donate blood.

  • nancy ellis

    my ferritin level is a 7!!!!…..I ve been having symptoms of fatigue and headaches for years.. but most recently alarming heart arrythmia and palpitations and severe dizziness.. feeling totally out of my body. Actually for years ive felt light headed, but i thought it was my low blood pressure. Im super healthy, teach and do yoga 5x a week, active, hiking, im a massage therapist also and work in a restaurant. I only eat organic, but have a full well rounded diet, that includes meat and dairy. Im also an Ayurvedic practitioner, so follow those guidelines for my constitution and seasonal eating. My doctor lady, was shocked that i hadnt passed out before, with my severely low ferritin levels… anyhow, ive started taking a B12 sublingual spray, vegan, and taking dessicated liver. Ive read that liver is the best way to get the heme iron, and most easily absorbed by the body without intestional side effects. Ive cut out coffee (that was my 1 vice) and has made a huge difference.., Its been a month on these supplments and feel better but far from 100%… id appreciate any feedback on dessicated liver and iron supplments. Ive also got the Thorne brand B12, and hemagenics red blood cell builder, and will start these soon as well. Im also doing regular acupucture to help build the blood focusing on heart, liver and spleen…This is my first time to a doctor in 20 years! The root cause of the low iron, is believed to be my heavy menses, lasting 5-7 days and cycling every 22 days a month. Im 45, so im hoping i can find all naturals ways through diet and herbs and alternative medicine to help this. Any insight is helpful. Thank you, Nancy

    1. Nattha Wannissorn, PhD

      Yes you need more iron than you do B12.

  • Haisam

    My ferritin in serum was 814 and the hemoglobin is 16.5
    And i was a heavy smoker i went to z doc and he told me to quit smoking and i did and i wait for a month and its now 880 so i dont know what to do ?

  • Jackie Walsh

    Both my husband and myself were told today by our family Doctor that our iron was low but our iron reserves are high. No explanation given as what is the cause or the remedy. What is your opinion on this?

  • Lorene

    I contacted Canadian Blood Services and asked whether I could donate blood. They said absolutely not. Taking blood from me might put me at risk. So I’m trying the curcumin, which should also help with any inflammation. I know I’m sensitive to dairy, eggs and soy, so I’ll be avoiding those. I’ll let you know how it goes. I will know by early August.

  • Lorene

    My ferritin level recently tested at 190 (the high end of the reference range is 150) so it’s a little high. I understand that a blood donation may be the most efficient way to deal with this. However, I was diagnosed with Pernicious Anemia in 1996 and took B12 injections every month since then. A number of years ago, I asked about donating blood but was refused because I was on injections.

    Just over a year ago, my B12 level was high so my doctor agreed that I could stop the injections and go on supplements. We test the B12 level about every 6 months and it is falling so I may have to go back on injections soon. I could ask about donating blood before resuming B12 shots but if I am still refused, would taking a curcumin supplement reduce my ferritin?

    1. Nattha Wannissorn, PhD

      Depends on why it’s high, yea. Could be inflammation or a problem with your body using the iron.

  • Siddu patil

    I have ferritin level 1556ng/ml in blood test…And I have rhematoid arthritis..What will do plz suggest me

  • Marilyn Knox

    I have anemia and chronically low ferriton. My numbers yesterday were 8.0 hemoglobin and 6 ferriton. My hematologist has decided to infuse monthly with ferrilicit. I am convinced my low ferriton is the causal factor of my anemia. Comments? Recommendations?

    1. Nattha Wannissorn, PhD

      low ferritin is a symptom of low iron (not necessarily anemia). It’s not a cause of anemia.

  • Helen Knowles

    I think that you have done a lot of hard work to produce such an all embracing presentation of Ferritin and as somebody who had to do loads of fast moving research daily in order to back up one’s work I would like to say ‘thank you.’

  • Julie

    I have low ferritin but within range iron levels. My iron saturation is even at 43%. However, I have a great deal of hair loss. I think low ferritin is the culprit. I want to increase my ferritin but not the other iron numbers. Is this possible? I’m an otherwise healthy 35 y/o female with no other issues. I haven’t been able to find much information on this issue and doctor’s are of NO use!

    Iron, Total 143 mcg/dL
    Transferrin 263 mg/dL
    TIBC Calc 329 mcg/dL
    Iron Saturation 43 %
    Ferritin 30.6 ng/mL

  • Daniel

    Isn’t iron not truly a nutrient, but just a toxic metal?

    If I also eat anything fortified with supplemental iron like enriched white rice, it immediately feels toxic. Just the thought of eating red meat also feels toxic. Only iron from plants may be safe.

    1. Nattha Wannissorn

      Well, there is iron in your blood. Without iron, you die, so it is a nutrient.

  • inom

    I have low Ferritin with possible gut inflammation. Which supplement would be better? I have heard carbonyl form is safer and good for those with less stomach acid. I am chronically sick with sensitivity of most of the foods.

    1. Nattha Wannissorn

      My advice is to fix the gut inflammation by testing for what could be causing the gut to be inflamed (i.e. stool screening for pathogens and organic acids). Otherwise, what you are doing is just controlling the symptoms (which includes avoiding the foods you are sensitive to), and you will not absorb much of the supplements and foods that you ingest. We can reasonably expect that all your other symptoms (if any) will improve once you kill the gut pathogens, re-balance the gut flora, and fix the leaky gut. If you would like help on this, you can book an appointment with me at We’ll chat about what’s going on, decide what tests are best for you, and help you on your way to health. ~Nattha @ Team SelfHacked

  • Cindi

    Great post, but it’s still not clear to me whether someone with high inflammation/metabolic syndrome should intentionally lower ferritin levels. Are they rising as a protective mechanism, or is the high ferritin contributing to the problem?

    1. Nattha Wannissorn

      More like the body is trying to conserve iron because it’s preparing to lose blood in the presence of inflammation (said one of the doctors I learned this stuff from).

  • Ted Hu

    how about Thalassemia minor, Taiwanese male, presumably Portuguese/Mediterranean descent.

  • Radek Pilich

    Highly recommended listening:

  • Kyle

    Are there any good supplements for lowering iron?

    1. Natcha M

      Things that prevent absorption like tannins and phytates. I think you better get those in foods rather than supplementing them. Also gotta eat less iron in the first place.

  • Shelley Goforth

    This is wonderful information! I appreciate you and your contribution to our understanding of our bodies so much.

    1. Natcha M

      Thank you!

  • Remy

    Ferritin can be normal or high in the Anemia of Chronic Disease. A better way to differentiate is transferrin/TIBC. If it is low, it’s more likely ACD. If it’s high, iron deficiency anemia.

    1. Natcha M

      Yes Remy, I agree. Unfortunately those things rarely get tested unless the doctor is following up on someone with a diagnosis. We definitely should have a comprehensive iron levels post.

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