What is ferritin? What causes ferritin deficiency?

By | 2 June 2021

Iron, which is one of the many minerals necessary for the human body, is used for the production of hemoglobin (HGB) in red blood cells that carry oxygen. Low iron levels cause red blood cells to not be adequately oxygenated and therefore less produced. As a result, the amount of oxygen in the tissues and organs decreases and leads to many complaints such as weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and concentration disorders. Ferritin is the one that stores and releases the iron mineral taken through food in line with the body’s needs. İt is a type of protein complex responsible for the dissolution, storage, and release of iron. İt, also known as an iron store, is mostly found in cells and in small amounts in the bloodstream. This protein, which is responsible for the storage of iron, is measured by a laboratory test. The amount of iron in the body can be easily understood with the iron test, which can also be defined as the measurement of the fullness of iron stores in the body. Before answering the question of what is ferritin deficiency, it is necessary to understand what ferritin is.

What is ferritin?

Iron from different food sources has an important place in human metabolism. Erythrocytes, or in other words, red blood cells, which are the most abundant cell type in the blood, are responsible for the transport of oxygen, which is of vital importance for tissues and organs. The ability of these cells, also known as red blood cells, to provide enough oxygen to the tissues depends on the amount of iron in the body. İt, on the other hand, is a kind of protein complex that stores the existing iron and controls its release, unlike the iron found in the body. Ferritin protein is found in body cells and especially in cells known as hepatocytes that make up approximately 75% of the liver, bone marrow, and immune system cells. Ferritin, which is responsible for the storage of iron taken through food and its release when necessary, can also be defined as the body’s iron store. This is the most correct answer to the question of what ferritin means. The measurement of the amount of iron in the body is also done with the ferritin test. Low ferritin indicates a low iron storage level in the body, while high ferritin indicates excessive storage of iron. Although the normal ferritin value differs according to age and gender, it is generally 20-500 ml/ng in men and 20-200 ml/ng in women. The reason for this low value in women is the regular monthly menstrual bleeding. Ferritin deficiency, which can occur for many different reasons, can be easily eliminated with the treatment methods recommended by the physician.

What is low ferritin?

Before answering the questions of how much ferritin is dangerous and how it rises, it is necessary to understand what is low ferritin. If the amount of ferritin protein, which is responsible for the storage and release of iron, is below normal values, it indicates that the iron stores in the body are empty. Iron deficiency, also known as anemia among people, is a natural consequence of ferritin deficiency. The lack of iron in the body, which has an important place in the delivery of oxygen by red blood cells from the lungs to the tissues, adversely affects the production of red blood cells. As a result, iron deficiency anemia occurs.

What causes low ferritin?

Low levels of ferritin in the blood, or in other words, low levels of It, are often seen as a result of excessive consumption of tea and coffee, and an irregular diet. In addition, the restriction of iron intake due to menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding periods, and irregular nutrition also leads to low ferritin. Other causes of low ferritin can be listed as follows:

  • give birth frequently
  • Low
  • Abortion
  • Early birth
  • overcooked meat
  • Frequent consumption of processed meat products
  • Vitamin C deficiency
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
  • chronic diseases
  • blood loss
  • Presence of cancer, polyps, and a diverticulum in the gastrointestinal tract

What are the symptoms of low ferritin?

In parallel with the decrease in the iron level in the body, the level also decreases. As a result of the insufficient amount of iron in the body, which is necessary for the production of the hemoglobin molecule in red blood cells, which is responsible for the transport of oxygen, the amount of oxygen carried by the red blood cells to the tissues and organs decreases. As a result, the functioning of tissues and organs that cannot be adequately oxygenated deteriorates, and this leads to some disorders. If iron is low or moderate, it may not show any symptoms. However, the amount of ferritin below normal values ​​causes the following symptoms:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Numbness
  • Don’t get up hard in the morning
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia
  • Desire to eat soil and lime
  • dizziness
  • Headache
  • tinnitus
  • feeling cold
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • concentration disorder
  • Itching
  • Hair loss
  • pale skin color
  • skin dryness
  • Nails break easily
  • Striped appearance on nails
  • Shortness of breath
  • leg pain
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • numbness in fingers and toes
  • restless legs syndrome

Treatment of low ferritin

Low ferritin, which is noticed by laboratory examination, indicates iron deficiency and a low level of iron stores. Detection of low ferritin as a result of the test performed to measure the amount of iron present in the body is a harbinger of possible health problems. Therefore, first of all, the reason behind the empty iron stores is investigated. Diseases that cause inflammation, such as ulcers that cause bleeding, or control of heavy menstrual bleeding ensures rapid elimination of iron deficiency. However, if low ferritin is not caused by any disease, oral iron supplementation in different forms such as syrup, drops, capsules, or intravenous iron use, which is defined as taking iron directly from the vein, may be required in line with the physician’s recommendations. In some cases, only additional iron supplementation will not be enough, so the physician may ask the person to apply a diet. This diet is generally in the direction of nutrition-rich in vitamin C and B12, consumption of leavened bread, dried legumes, eggs, chicken, fish, red meat, greens, sesame, molasses, grapes, hazelnuts, peanuts, apricots, and mulberries.

What is the ferritin height?

A high ferritin value indicates that more iron mineral is stored in the body than it should be. Iron, which cannot be eliminated naturally from the body, usually increases after blood transfusion. Ferritin elevation, which can lead to serious organ dysfunction and cardiovascular problems due to iron toxicity, is a condition that needs attention.

What causes high ferritin?

High ferritin levels are usually associated with inflammatory diseases, chronic diseases, liver disorders due to excessive alcohol consumption, and hemochromatosis, which is defined as an inherited or acquired iron metabolism disorder. Type 2 diabetes, hyperthyroidism, leukemia, and hepatitis C are other conditions that cause high ferritin levels.

What are the symptoms of high ferritin?

Some of the symptoms of high ferritin are listed as follows:

  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Palpitation
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal and chest pain
  • Joint pain
  • darkening in skin color
  • weight loss

Ferritin elevation treatment

First of all, the underlying causes of the iron content in the body of the person being above normal values ​​are investigated. In the absence of any disease that causes high ferritin levels, the physician can reduce the iron level in the body with medication. In some cases, simply changing the dietary habits is sufficient to lower the ferritin level. In this case, the physician recommends consuming coffee, green tea, calcium-rich foods for a certain period of time; may recommend taking minerals such as zinc and magnesium. In addition, blood donation is another method that reduces the iron stored in the body.

For a healthy life, do not forget to have your health checks regularly.


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