Ferritin is a protein that stores iron. Red blood cells need iron to form normally and carry oxygen around your body. Low levels of ferritin lead to iron deficiency anemia, which means you have too few red blood cells. High levels of ferritin can damage your joints, heart, liver, and pancreas.
Ferritin is a protein found in the bloodstream which stores iron. Ferritin helps in transporting iron where it's most needed in the body. Too much or too little ferritin can cause a lot of health issues and that's why you should check it often.
But before we discuss 10 great reasons why you should check your ferritin levels, let's find out a little bit more about this substance.
What Are the Normal Ferritin Values?
The levels of ferritin in the body are different for men and women. For example:
- Men - 24 - 500 ng/ml of blood (Ferritin below 50 ng/ml has been shown to be enough for symptoms of low ferritin)
- Women - 24 -200 ng/ml of blood
These are the normal values of ferritin in healthy adults. Anything that doesn't fit the norm can result in ferritin deficiency or excess. The doctor will then order additional investigations to determine why there is too little or too much ferritin in your body.
Now that you know what is ferritin and what are its normal values in the human body, it's time to discover 10 reasons to perform a ferritin blood test.
1. Too Little Ferritin Can Make You Feel Fatigued
Keep in mind that iron is extremely necessary for the human body. It helps to make red blood cells that transport oxygen. Virtually all cells, tissues, and organs in the human body require oxygen to survive, so if you don't have enough red blood cells to carry it, you will feel fatigued.
The fatigued is pretty difficult to endure and it will impact your daily life. People with low ferritin levels and iron deficiency struggle to perform basic housework, be productive at jobs or achieve their goals in the gym. If an iron deficiency is discovered as a result of doing a ferritin blood test, your doctor might recommend iron supplementation for the upcoming weeks.
2. Less Ferritin Might Make You Feel Anxious
Anxiety is a huge problem in today's world and it's just one step below depression. It's normal to feel anxious from time to time, but a lot of people feel anxious on a regular basis. Having too little ferritin in the bloodstream can cause low dopamine levels. Dopamine is an essential hormone that induces a state of confidence and relaxation. Have less dopamine predisposes you to anxiety and depression.
Therefore, if you feel anxious regularly, maybe your ferritin levels are low which in turn makes your dopamine stores drop. It would be ideal to test your ferritin levels and find the true source of your negative feelings.
3. Finding Out If You're Overtraining
Exercising on a regular basis is gold and some professional athletes take it to the extreme. Whether we talk about MMA fighters or bodybuilders, overtraining is common in most athletes. This can cause a person to become temporarily ill as the body is struggling to recover from so much daily stress. As a result, the ferritin levels drop significantly.
One of the best ways to find out if you're overtraining is to measure your ferritin levels. You might be mentally tough, but if your body cannot keep up with your state of mind, you can injure yourself. Check your ferritin levels and see if you need to make adjustments to your fitness regime to prevent overtraining.
4. Too Little Ferritin Might Be Caused By Hypothyroidism
The thyroid gland is extremely important for various functions in your body. One of its primary functions is to balance the acidity levels in your stomach. If you have hypothyroidism then the thyroid hormones are not produced correctly. This can lower the acidity in your stomach. As a result, you might not be able to absorb minerals and iron from the foods you eat. This, in turn, leads to low ferritin levels.
At the same time, if you have low ferritin because of another health issue, this can deteriorate the function of your thyroid gland, so your bodily systems are all interconnected.
One of the best ways to check out how your thyroid is doing is by doing a ferritin test. This will show if the iron is correctly absorbed in your stomach. However, if you discover an iron deficiency, make sure that you don't supplement with this mineral until you have talked with your doctor first. Too much iron in the body can cause serious health issues, so your iron supplementation needs to be carefully monitored by a healthcare professional.
5. Too Much Iron Might Be A Precursor to Alzheimer's Disease
One of the most dangerous and popular neurodegenerative disease in the world is Alzheimer's Disease. This disease consists of gradual degradation of the brain tissues. Common symptoms include the tendency to forget elementary facts in a person's life such as name or address.
Although more research is needed, studies and evidence show that having too much iron in the brain can lead to Alzheimer's Disease. The tau and beta proteins which might cause this issue is a byproduct of an accumulation of iron at the brain level. By performing a simple ferritin test, you can check if you have too much iron in your brain and prevent a seriously dangerous disease.
At the same time, scientists have also found out that having abnormal levels of ferritin in the spinal fluid can also predict the installment of Alzheimer's Disease. There is a strict correlation between iron levels and neurodegenerative diseases, so it's important to protect yourself by doing the test.
6. High Ferritin Levels Might Be Associated with Colon Cancer
Having too much ferritin in the body can also be detrimental to your health. Studies show that those who have high levels of ferritin might develop colon cancer at some point in the future. For example, ferritin levels over 280mcg/l might indicate that the patient has a 50% chance of developing colon polyps in the upcoming years.
Colon polyps are the first symptoms of colon cancer. These small polyps can develop slowly over the years and cause significant pain and discomfort for the patient. Colon cancer can be prevented by taking a simple ferritin blood test.
7. Low Ferritin Levels Can Indicate Gastrointestinal Bleeding
Not only those with high ferritin levels might be predisposed to colon cancer, but also those with low ferritin levels as all. In fact, too little ferritin might be caused by gastrointestinal bleeding which is commonly associated with existing colon cancer.
Gastrointestinal bleeding means that the small intestines have micro-perforations that allow blood to get into the gastric system. This is a serious health problem since GI bleeding can prevent the proper absorption of iron and other minerals. As a result, the ferritin levels plummet and this can be an indicator of existing colon cancer, in comparison with patients who have normal ferritin levels.
8. Low Ferritin Can Indicate the Restless Leg Syndrome and Muscle Aches
Restless Leg Syndrome is a serious medical condition that develops over time. Just as the name implies, this issue consists of a series of symptoms that make a patient want to move his or her legs. For example, some common symptoms of RLS include itching, throbbing, painful sensations, and the urge to move the legs. Moving the legs usually brings some relief to the patient.
The RLS usually gets worse during the night or when the person is at rest. This makes sleep really difficult and it can lead to low testosterone at some point in the future. It is believed that RLS is commonly associated with low ferritin levels and that's why you should do the test as soon as possible.
The RLS can also cause poor concentration, loss of productivity, and a decreased quality of life. Being unable to rest the legs without feeling itchiness or pain or definitely a bad thing. This condition might be relieved using leg massages or by supplementing with iron under strict doctor supervision.
Low ferritin has also been linked to muscle aches associated with fibromyalgia.
9. High Ferritin Levels and Vitamin C Are A Bad Mix
Vitamin C is advertised as a powerful antioxidant that can provide a plethora of benefits to the human body. This vitamin can reduce the time it takes to heal after a cold or flu, but it can also reduce stress levels and increase the production of nitric oxide. However, too much vitamin C can lead to an increased absorption rate of iron.
As previously mentioned, it's not a good idea to have too much iron in the body. Overdosing with vitamin C can make the body store too much iron which might lead to Alzheimer's Disease or colon cancer in the future. If you already have high ferritin levels, the last thing you need is to get too much vitamin C in your system.
That's why it's important to perform a simple ferritin blood test to see how much vitamin C you should take.
10. See If You Have Hemochromatosis
This condition is characterized by the body's tendency to accumulate too much iron in its tissues and organs. This is a bad thing and although the condition is rare, it's good to check for it. Hemochromatosis can cause a wide variety of health problems including a serious drop in testosterone levels. As you probably already know, having lower-than-normal testosterone levels can lead to gynecomastia, low libido, poor concentration, and decreased muscle mass.
How Are Ferritin Tests Performed?
Now that you know why you should do a simple ferritin blood test, you're probably wondering how it's performed and from where you can procure one. You might be happy to find out that a ferritin test requires just a simple blood sample. You don’t have to fast before doing the test, unless your blood sample is analyzed for other hormones and enzymes as well.
You can get your test from reputable online sources such as DiscountedLabs.com. The ferritin blood test can be ordered at a reasonable price and you are emailed a form that you can use to visit a nearby clinic. That's where you'll draw blood and have it analyzed by experts in modern laboratories.
In just a couple of business days, you'll receive the results via email in a safe and confidential manner. Then you can visit your healthcare provider to help you interpret the results. If your ferritin levels are optimal, you have nothing to worry about. If your ferritin levels are low, you might get an iron supplement. If your ferritin levels are too high, this can signify various underlying health issues that need to be investigated higher.
What If My Ferritin Levels Are Abnormally High?
In this case, the doctor will perform different tests to isolate the root cause of your excess ferritin. For example, high ferritin levels are usually caused by:
- Excessive alcohol consumption - you might be required to cut down on your alcohol intake
- Liver disease - the liver is one of the most important organs in your body and too much ferritin might indicate a problem with it
- Porphyria - this health issue is caused by an enzyme deficiency which might deteriorate the health of your skin and nervous system
- A chronic inflammatory disorder - excessive inflammation is not a good thing for the body. Too much ferritin might be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or a similar chronic inflammatory disorder
- Leukemia - this serious health condition is caused by a problem with the bone marrow or lymphatic cells. It can be life-threatening and it needs to be investigated at all costs
What if my Ferritin is Low?
- Stop donating blood if you are doing so.
- Talk to your doctor if you are a woman with extensive menstrual duration.
- Talk to your doctor about iron supplementation. Consuming iron-rich foods improves iron stores and ferritin levels. These include green leafy vegetables, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, oatmeal, cereals, wheat germ, beans and tofu, lamb and beef, nuts, pumpkin and squash seeds, liver and mollusks, among others.
- If you are a man on long term and higher dose testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), be aware that some men on TRT may have low ferritin as a way for the body to adjust to extra iron requirements caused by increased red blood cell and hemoglobin production.
- If none of the above applies to you, talk to your doctor about getting a work up to rule out any internal bleeding due to illness or ulcers.
Take Action Now and Order the Ferritin Blood Test!
As mentioned earlier, there are multiple reasons to do a ferritin blood test and you're just a few clicks away from ordering one. Remember that your health is your most precious asset and now it's easier than ever to check and improve it, so take action now!
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