Your body needs iron for your red blood cells to carry oxygen to all parts of the cells. Low ferritin levels indicate that your body does not have sufficient iron. Iron deficiency may be a sign of a serious health problem, that is why you need to understand the importance of ferritin levels.
Why Is My Ferritin Low?
Low ferritin level is a sign of iron deficiency. This happens when your body does not obtain a sufficient amount of iron. People who are suffering from anemia do not have enough red blood cells in their bodies. Iron attaches to red blood cells. If red blood cells are low, iron is also low.
Other Conditions That Cause Low Ferritin Levels
- Internal bleeding
- Excessive menstrual bleeding
- Stomach conditions affecting intestinal absorption
Is Low Ferritin Dangerous?
Low ferritin level is a strong sign of iron deficiency. This is dangerous in the sense that your body needs oxygen to survive. If your red blood cells lack iron, its purpose of transferring oxygen from the lungs to all parts of your body will be inhibited. Iron also affects your metabolism, hormone production, growth, and development.
Symptoms Of Low Ferritin Levels
- Unexplained fatigue
- Chronic headaches
- Ringing in your ears
- Shortness of breath
- Leg pains
If you experience the above symptoms, you may need to have a ferritin test.
Can Low Ferritin Levels Cause Weight Gain?
Low ferritin levels mean that you have an iron deficiency. Remember that your body needs iron so that you get enough oxygen. If you are deprived of it, chances are your energy level will also be decreased. You will become irritable, weak, tired, and unable to focus. You are prone to eating foods high in sugar, especially if you are tired. Foods can improve your energy levels. But we all know that the more food you eat, the more chances you will gain weight.
How Do You Increase Ferritin Levels?
Low ferritin levels indicate that you have an iron deficiency. Your doctor will most likely recommend a treatment to increase ferritin levels. The treatment depends upon the underlying cause of low ferritin levels.
Usually, your doctor will prescribe iron supplements. But, most iron tablets can be bought over-the-counter, so you don’t need any prescription for these. The dose of the supplement also depends on various factors. Anyway, iron is also available in liquid form. And this is made especially for children.
If iron supplements are not effective, you may be asked to take medications such as oral contraceptives if the iron deficiency is due to bleeding. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics if the cause of iron deficiency is peptic ulcers. If this is due to a tumor, a fibroid, or a bleeding polyp, you may be asked to undergo surgery.
What Foods Contain Ferritin?
Foods that are rich in iron can help increase your low ferritin levels. Foods such as liver, chicken, lentils, beans, fortified breakfast cereals, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, tofu, seafood, molasses, soy, eggs, and lean red meat.
Dark-green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, seaweed, broccoli, parsley, asparagus, watercress, and kale are also rich in iron. Some foods and drinks containing tannins, vitamin C, and phytates are also good to increase iron absorption.
What Is Considered A Dangerously Low Ferritin Level?
The normal ferritin level depends upon your age. Knowing the normal ferritin level can help you determine what low ferritin level is. Here is the normal range for ferritin according to the age chart
|Age||Normal Range of Ferritin|
|One month old||200-600 ng/mL|
|2-5 months old||50-200 ng/mL|
|6 months-15 years||7-140 ng/mL|
|18-39 years (female adults)||10-120 ng/mL|
|10-120 ng/mL||Male adults|
|40 years and older (female)||12-263 ng/mL|
Lower than normal means that you have an iron deficiency. There are cases when low ferritin levels are caused by certain medications.
Low ferritin levels may indicate that you have an iron deficiency. This occurs when your body does not get the right amount of iron it needs. It may also be a sign that you are suffering from an underlying condition, such as excessive menstrual bleeding and internal bleeding. Low ferritin levels are dangerous because they can make you experience various symptoms such as experiencing dizziness, unexplained fatigue, weakness, and chronic headaches.
It can also make you gain weight because iron deficiency can affect your energy level. The more your body needs energy, the more you want to eat more. To increase ferritin levels, your doctor may prescribe you to take iron supplements. If it is not effective, then you may be asked to take medications and even undergo surgery. Foods such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits, tofu, and broccoli are rich in iron. These can help increase your ferritin levels.
Doctor, author and fitness enthusiast, Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a surgery resident with a passion for helping people live a happy healthy life. He is the author of numerous health-related books and contributor to several medicine, health and wellbeing websites.