Ferritin is a type of protein in the body that helps store iron in body tissues. Levels of the substance may drop if you are iron deficient or malnourished. In addition, there are several medical conditions and chronic diseases that can impair the production of this protein and, consequently, trigger other health problems. However, with simple dietary changes and vitamin supplementation, it is easy to increase blood ferritin levels.
Part 1 of 3: Determining the cause of low ferritin levels
Step 1. Talk to a doctor
Before making any decision about dietary changes, consult a professional to make the appropriate changes based on your personal and family medical history. He needs to know what symptoms are associated with the low levels of ferritin you are experiencing. Some of the symptoms are:
- Loss of hair;
- fragile nails;
- Shortness of breathe.
Step 2. Examine the amount of iron in your blood
Since ferritin is iron that has been absorbed by the body tissue, the doctor's first request will be to check the amount of iron present in the blood. This will help you determine if you are not getting enough iron or if you have a condition that inhibits iron absorption.
Step 3. Also examine ferritin levels
If you don't have enough iron in your bloodstream, your body can pull it out of your tissues, lowering your ferritin levels. In this way, a single blood test can detect both amounts of iron and ferritin.
- Optimal ferritin levels should be between 30 and 40 ng/mL of blood. Amounts below 20 ng/mL are considered mildly deficient and below 10 ng/mL deficient.
- Some labs use different procedures that affect how they report ferritin levels and ranges, so always take your doctor's tests to help him understand the results.
Step 4. Take an iron binding or fixation ability test
It will measure the maximum amount of iron your blood can store. That way the doctor will know if your liver and other organs are working properly. If not, low levels of ferritin or iron could be related to a bigger problem.
Step 5. Find out if you have any more serious illnesses
After taking the blood tests, your doctor will check if you have any medical conditions that have caused your ferritin levels to drop or that could change them. Some diseases related to difficulty in producing or absorbing iron are:
- Kidney disease;
- Gastric ulcers;
- Enzyme Disorders.
Part 2 of 3: Taking supplements
Step 1. Take iron supplements
If you have a mild or moderate disability, you will need to take a supplement. Follow package insert instructions or medical advice. These products usually take a few weeks to take effect.
- Iron supplements can have side effects such as back pain, chills, dizziness, headache and nausea.
- As vitamin C increases the absorption of iron in the blood, it is recommended to take the supplement with a glass of orange juice.
- Avoid taking it with milk, caffeinated beverages, antacids or calcium supplements, as these substances impair iron absorption.
Step 2. Make intravenous vitamin replacement
If you have a severe deficiency, a condition that impairs iron absorption, or you have lost a lot of blood, the recommended treatment is intravenous. You will receive injections or infusions of iron or vitamin B12 directly into your bloodstream. In severe cases, a doctor may order a blood transfusion to restore iron levels more quickly.
- Injections or infusions will only be used if other attempts to supplement iron and ferritin levels fail.
- Injections can have side effects similar to oral supplements.
Step 3. Take a medication
There are several medications designed to increase the levels of iron and ferritin in the human body. If you have a condition that inhibits your ability to absorb or store iron, your doctor may prescribe one:
- Ferrous sulphate;
- Ferrous gluconate;
- Ferrous fumarate;
- Carbonyl iron;
- Iron-dextran complex.
Part 3 of 3: Changing the Diet
Step 1. Eat more meat
Meat, specifically red meat, is perhaps the best source of iron. In addition to being rich in iron, the body can more easily absorb this substance from meat. Therefore, by increasing your consumption of this food, you will also increase your iron and ferritin levels. Eat more:
- Lamb meat;
Step 2. Consume iron-rich plant foods
Along with meat, they will help to increase blood ferritin levels. Remember, however, that you will need to consume on average twice the amount of these foods to get the same amount of iron in a steak. With the:
- Rice (when enriched);
Step 3. Avoid consuming foods and minerals that make it difficult to absorb iron
Although it is not necessary to eliminate them from the diet, it is necessary to control the intake of:
- Red wine;
- Black tea and green tea;
- Unfermented soybeans;