Ferritin is a protein located in the bone marrow, skeletal muscles, liver and spleen responsible for maintaining the optimal level of iron in the body. This protein stores the iron and provides it for the formation of red blood cells. Iron is part of hemoglobin in red blood cells and it is needed for the transport of oxygen. Even though iron is a necessity, it cannot be free in the blood because of its toxicity. This is the major purpose of ferritin - binding free iron and making it less toxic for the body. Low ferritin level can be found in people suffering from iron deficiency anemia.
How much Ferritin is Normal?
Normally, there is about 12 to 300 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) of ferritin in adult men. Adult women have slightly less ferritin in the body, about 12 to 150 ng/mL. Talking about normal level of ferritin in kids, we must say it depends on their age. So, kids from 1 to 5 years of age should have 6 to 24 ng of ferritin per one mL, while little older children (5 to 9 years of age) should have 10 to 55 ng/mL of ferritin. For children above 9 years of age, doctors consider normal all values under 200 ng/mL.
High or low level of ferritin indicates certain presence of conditions or disorders in the body, causing raise or decrease of ferritin. Some people may have above 1.000 ng/mL of ferritin. High values of ferritin are often seen in people addicted to alcohol, patients who have had blood transfusions, in people suffering from some inflammatory disorders, liver diseases, arthritis, hemochromatosis, thalassemia, Hodgkin’s disease or in patients suffering from leukemia.
Low ferritin in the body always suggests that the body does not have sufficient amount of iron at disposal. Women with these results may be bleeding heavily during their menstruation or be pregnant and that can be responsible for this condition. Other times, patients may suffer from iron deficiency anemia, bleeding in the form of ulcers, hemorrhoids or bleeding from somewhere else inside the digestive tract. Colon cancer and psoriasis may also cause low level of ferritin. These patients usually complain about tiredness, weakness, dizziness and headaches.
About Iron Deficiency Anemia
As mentioned, this is one of the conditions that might be responsible for low level of ferritin in the body. Beside symptoms common for most people with low ferritin, iron deficiency anemia may additionally cause tachycardia, heart palpitations, irritability, libido problems, abdominal pain and different cravings. Some patients may have pale color of the skin and pale and brittle nails as well.
Doctors frequently advise patients suffering from iron deficiency anemia to eat more food rich in iron, especially chicken or beef liver, spinach, potatoes and oysters or trout. Vitamin C and E rich food are also appreciated for these patients, in order to increase absorption of iron available in the gastrointestinal tract.