Ferritin is iron bound protein. This protein is responsible for storing iron and releasing it in a controlled manner. This protein also serves as a buffer against deficiency of the iron in human body. Ferritin is located in blood serum and is associated with entire iron count in the body under normal circumstances. The protein is also found in mitochondria of cells in the body. Mitochondrion is among the cellular organelles which plays a role associated in the molecular functioning. Several natural biologic mechanisms require participation of ferritin, such as ferroxidase, oxidoreductase activity, transition of metal ion, ferric ion binding, metal ion binding, etc. since this protein is an important part of numerous biological phenomenon it is essential for body. Not only its presence in the body is important but it is also essential that it is available in appropriate concentration. Any increase or decrease in the level of ferritin can lead to health issues.
Optimum ferritin levels
Serum ferritin level in the body is checked through ferritin blood test which helps in determining also the iron level in the body indirectly. However optimum level of ferritin in men is 30 to 300 ng/ml, while for women it is 15 to 200 ng/ml. Here is a proper break-up of appropriate ferritin level in the body.
- In newborn baby : 25 to 200ng/ml
- In one month old baby: 200 to 600 ng/ml
- In 2 to 5 months old baby: 50 to 200 ng/ml
- 6 months to 15 years old children: 7 to 142 ng/ml
- In adult women: 15 to 200 ng/ml
- In adult men: 30 to 300 ng/ml
Causes of low ferritin in blood
There can be several factors that may lead to reduced ferritin level in the blood. It is often suggested that hypothyroidism is among the possible factors that may lead to anomalous reduction in the level of ferritin. This is hypothesized because when the level of thyroid hormone is lower then the degree of hydrochloric acid is released in stomach is also lower. This is what also causes low level of ferritin which in turn affects the absorption of iron. This condition is also recorded in case of digestive track issues, wherein malabsorption is associated in the gut.
Reduced ferritin is also experienced by women due to heavy menstrual bleeding. Women suffer from the condition if there is lack of iron in their regular diet. Internal bleeding is a cause of reduced level of ferritin. Conditions such as colon cancer or ulcer are common causes of bleeding in the body which may contribute to cause low ferritin in the body. Ferritin or iron deficiency may be detected through conditions such as fatigue, irritation and general weakness.
Symptoms of low ferritin level
Symptoms of Low ferritin in blood are directly depended on the underlying cause of the condition. Most common set of symptoms are those which are experienced in case of iron deficiency anemia. In this case reduced iron symptoms would include complications such as weakness, tiredness, decreased energy, mental exhaustion, physical exhaustion, paled skin, head pain, etc. These symptoms are actually associated with deficiency of iron level in blood; this may cause low hematocrit level and reduced hemoglobin level. This occurrence decreases the supply of oxygen to the cells; hence, overall weakness is seen. Other possible symptoms of anemia include brittleness of nails, fragile skin, hair loss, chronic irritability, respiratory issues, etc. The severity of the symptoms may be proportionate to the degree of deficiency of ferritin level in the body. Some intense symptoms low ferritin blood includes drowsiness, depression, swallowing issues, hindered memory, etc.
Cramps in the leg are also commonly recorded symptoms of the condition. Restless leg syndrome is also sometimes associated with low level ferritin in blood. In this condition there is an uncontrollable urge to move legs constantly due to the experienced discomfort. This complication may be mild or intense in nature. One in five individuals affected with restless leg syndrome were also diagnosed with reduced level of iron and reduced ferritin.
If a person is affected with hypothyroidism then apart from iron deficiency and reduced oxygen symptoms, there are also symptoms that are recorded in case of hypothyroidism. These symptoms usually include dizziness, reduced metabolism, increased weight, intolerance to cold, etc. if the person suffers from malabsorption issues then other complications associated with deficiency of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, etc can be recorded. Thus, the type and intensity of deficiency of ferritin is greatly depended on the underlying causing factor. However, symptoms of anemia iron deficiency are present in almost all cases.
Diagnosis for low ferritin level
Diagnosis of the condition is essential to determine whether you are suffering from low ferritin level. Usually blood test can help in determining low ferritin in blood. There are some other tests such as Total Iron Binding Capacity test, Unsaturated Iron Binding Capacity test, ferritin test, serum iron test, etc, can help in determining whether ferritin deficiency is an underlying condition. In case if blood test is to be done, one should not take iron supplements for 48 hours before the test. It is also essential to provide blood specimen for test in the morning, as during the day the iron level in the body may fluctuate also causing changes in ferritin level.
Treatments for low ferritin in blood
Anomalously low ferritin level in the body indicates decrease amount if iron. Thus consuming iron rich food is safe and dietary way of restoring the iron to sufficient level. One should consume foods such as chicken, eggplant vegetable, lean red meat, oysters, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, figs, cooked spinach, broccoli, molasses, etc. These are foods rich in iron and can help in increasing the level of iron and ferritin in the body. If dietary changes does not help then supplements may be suggested. These supplements are oral medicine with content of iron. Supplements are often found to be effective in treating low ferritin level in blood. However, any treatment for the condition should be adopted as per doctor’s instructions.