Adult Ferritin Levels: What They Are and Why They Matter
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Welcome to our blog, where we’re going to talk about adult ferritin levels.
Now, I know what you might be thinking, “Ferritin, what’s that?” Don’t worry; we’re here to break it down in a way that’s easy to understand, without all the medical jargon.
So, why should you care about ferritin levels? Well, because they hold the key to your overall health!.
Think of this as your personal guide to understanding what’s normal and why it matters when it comes to ferritin in your body.
But before we get started, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Normal ferritin levels are different depending on age and gender.
Ferritin levels are affected by a number of factors, including diet, inflammation, infection, and liver disease.
If your ferritin levels are low, it may be a sign of iron deficiency anemia.
If your ferritin levels are high, it may be a sign of iron overload, infection, inflammation, or cancer.
Why should you care about your ferritin levels?
Ferritin levels matter because they tell you more about your health, most especially your “iron status”.
Think of your body like a car, and your symptoms are like indicator lights on the dashboard.
When something is wrong with your car, the indicator lights come on to warn you.
Similarly, when something is wrong with your body, you may experience some symptoms.
Ferritin is like a storage unit for iron in your body. It keeps iron safely until your body needs it. This iron is essential for energy, red blood cell production, and vitality.
What is Ferritin?
Ferritin is a protein found in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. It’s made up of a protein shell that surrounds a core of iron.
The amount of ferritin in your blood is a measure of how much iron your body stores. Imagine ferritin as a storage place in your body where it keeps iron safe.
Ferritin is like a protein that shields iron from causing harm when it’s not needed right away. Your body stores most of this ferritin in places like your liver, spleen, and bone marrow.
This keeps iron ready for action when your body requires it, such as when it’s making fresh blood cells.
What are the regular ferritin levels for adults?
For adults, normal ferritin levels ranges from 12 to 300 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).
However, these numbers can change slightly depending on age and gender.
For men, ferritin level is between 24 to 336 micrograms per liter (µg/L), and for women 11 to 307 µg/L.
Women tend to have slightly lower ferritin levels than men. Also, as we age, our ferritin levels might drop a bit.
Why keeping ferritin levels in check is important
Keeping ferritin levels in check is important because having too little or too much of it can lead to health issues.
Low ferritin levels can result in iron deficiency anemia, while high levels may indicate problems like iron overload, inflammation, and cancer.
High ferritin levels can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems as well.
Low ferritin can leave you feeling weak and tired, while high levels of ferritin, signals conditions like hemochromatosis, which can harm your organs.
Therefore, it is important to keep ferritin levels within the normal range. This can be done by eating a healthy diet and getting regular blood tests to monitor ferritin levels.
Ferritin testing is a blood test that measures the level of ferritin in your blood.
A ferritin blood test is the most common way to measure ferritin levels. You will need to fast for 8 hours before the test.
A ferritin test may also be done to:
- Monitor iron levels in people with chronic kidney disease.
- Check iron levels in people who are taking iron supplements or certain medications that affect iron levels.
- Diagnose other medical conditions, like inflammation, cancer, or liver disease.
To check your ferritin levels, your blood sample is drawn and sent to a lab for analysis. It’s a quick and painless procedure.
Factors that affect ferritin levels in adults
What you eat and how you live can change your ferritin levels. Your diet especially plays a big role; foods rich in iron can boost your ferritin levels.
Ferritin levels can be affected by a number of factors, including:
- Diet: Not eating enough iron-rich foods reduces your ferritin levels.
- Age: Ferritin levels tend to increase with age. This is because the body becomes less efficient at absorbing iron from food as we age.
- Sex: Women tend to have lower ferritin levels than men. This is due to blood loss during menstruation and pregnancy.
- Obesity: Obesity is associated with higher ferritin levels. This is because fat cells produce inflammatory proteins that can increase ferritin production.
- Inflammation: Inflammation from any cause can increase ferritin levels. This is because ferritin is an acute-phase protein, which means that its levels rise in response to inflammation.
Here is a detailed list of factors that affects ferritin levels. Factors that increases ferritin levels:
- Alcohol abuse
- Chronic inflammation
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and estrogens
Factors that can decrease ferritin levels:
- Iron deficiency
- Blood loss
- Kidney dialysis
- Certain medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
It is important to note that ferritin levels can still be high even when iron stores are normal, this is known as hyperferritinemia.
Interpreting ferritin test results
Interpreting ferritin test results can be complex, as ferritin levels can be affected by several factors, such as inflammation, infection, and liver disease. That’s why it’s important to discuss your ferritin test results with your doctor.
Here are examples of how ferritin test results may be interpreted:
- Ferritin level below 15 ng/mL: This is a strong indication of iron deficiency.
- Ferritin level between 15 and 30 ng/mL: This may indicate iron deficiency, especially if you have symptoms of anemia.
- Ferritin level between 30 and 100 ng/mL: This is considered normal.
- Ferritin level above 100 ng/mL: This may indicate iron overload, inflammation, infection, or cancer.
If your ferritin test results are abnormal, additional tests will also help to determine the cause.
For example, if your ferritin level is low, different blood tests called serum iron test is done to check your iron levels, as well as other blood cell counts.
If your ferritin level is high, another set of tests including white blood cell count, urine culture, C-reactive protein (CRP), and ferritin is done to check for infection, inflammation, or cancer.
High levels of white blood cells, CRP, or ferritin can be a sign of infection, inflammation, or cancer
Once the cause of your abnormal ferritin level is identified, you will receive the appropriate treatment.
When you get your results, don't panic if they're not in the normal range. Sometimes individual factors can affect what's right for you. High levels might suggest iron overload or inflammation, while low levels could indicate iron deficiency anemia.
Steps to keep ferritin levels in check (For Adults)
Adults can keep their ferritin levels in check in several ways. Here are some steps adults can take to keep ferritin levels normal:
- Limiting phytates. Phytates are found in plant foods such as grains, legumes, and nuts. They can bind to iron and make it less available for absorption. To reduce phytates, you can soak, sprout, or ferment these foods before eating them.
- Avoid calcium and caffeine at mealtimes. Calcium and caffeine interferes with iron absorption. It’s best to avoid these substances for at least two hours before and after eating a meal that contains iron.
- Ferritin test. If you have a history of iron deficiency anemia, monitor your ferritin levels through blood tests.
Here are some additional tips for increasing ferritin absorption:
- Eat iron-rich foods with foods that are high in vitamin C.
- Cook iron-rich foods in lemon juice or vinegar. This helps to convert the iron into a more absorbable form.
- Avoid drinking coffee with meals, as these beverages interferes with iron absorption.
- Space out your iron intake throughout the day. This will help your body absorb more iron.
Wrapping it Up
Knowing your ferritin levels helps you to detect health problems that’s likely to cause symptoms before they become serious.
Keep in mind that “normal” ranges can be different for both adult men and women, and keeping a balanced ferritin levels is important for your well-being.
Ferritin testing is a test that’s used to assess ferritin levels, and if they’re outside the normal range, your doctor will guide you, and give you the right treatment. Taking care of your diet and lifestyle is also key to optimal ferritin levels.
Your health is your treasure, so keep an eye on your ferritin levels and get the best advice.