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6

how to raise ferritin level

by (228)
Updated about 4 hours ago
Created May 18, 2012 at 2:47 AM

Besides eating liver, red meat, oysters, dried apricots and all other foods high in Iron, what is the best way to build up my iron stores? There is plenty of iron in my blood serum, but my Ferritin level is a meager 13 post pregnancy and 18 months of nursing so far. I have been taiking a small amount of ferrous sulfate; is there anything else that I can do?

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6
0 · May 18, 2012 at 10:35 PM

Thank you for your response, interrobung. I am glad to hear the newly found emphasis on nutrition as a part of medical school curricula.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc
0 · May 18, 2012 at 5:34 PM

I'm not exactly sure jessica. I took 6 months to try to get it up with diet alone. I tested at 3 months and no change. Tried to eat more iron rich foods and tested again and was even lower than originally. I went on the Poly iron at that point but wasn't tested again for a year so I'm not sure if it helped immediately or if it took 6+months or whatever. It did get them up into a nice healthy range. I'm getting tested again in a month or two and admittedly I've slacked off on the iron supplements so I'll be interested to see where I am now.

8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082
0 · May 18, 2012 at 5:01 PM

@coffeesnob Having only been a student at one DO school and zero MD schools, I can't say authoritatively. That being said, I've found most medical schools teach only paltry nutrition, DO/MD alike, and what is taught is usually the norm. DO schools probably do a better job, overall, at emphasizing the need for diet/nutrition as a primary intervention, and DO students tend to be a smidge more open to non-standard ideas of nutrition. But licensing exams (DO and MD) are beginning to test nutrition far more heavily (especially the biochem involved), so I expect this to improve gradually.

Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624
0 · May 18, 2012 at 4:59 PM

How long did it take to raise?

Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624
0 · May 18, 2012 at 4:57 PM

I've seen a lot of research that indicates that ferritin levels in women should ideally be around 100, but for me it's feeling weak during workouts and thinning hair that are making it a priority even though my doctor thought 13 was "normal".

8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082
0 · May 18, 2012 at 4:56 PM

@jessica it probably isn't bad for you, but it's almost certainly not a superfood: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=85 Humans absorb animal-iron about 10-20x as effectively as plant iron; if 2T blackstrap only gives you 13% DV and its calories still come mostly from the sugar content, and it contains no Vit C to help with the absorption, it's probably not worth it *at least on its own* as a way to try to increase your ferritin. If you're still nursing, it will just take time: your baby needs it more than you do c:

Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624
0 · May 18, 2012 at 4:20 PM

I have had my thyroid function looked at pretty closely but not my liver function. I have been trying to combine iron and vit C consumption & no lead exposure. I think that my iron stores were worn down during my pregnancy and it will take some time to build them back up...mostly got concerned when I seemed to be losing more hair than I ever had coupled with lethargy. My iron was tested 3 months ago, so I think I'll go in soon to see if my efforts have had an impact. Any thoughts on blackstrap molasses?

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6
0 · May 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Glad to see a paleo medical student! Do you think DO schools put more emphasis on nutrition than MD schools?

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6
0 · May 18, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Oh! That explains. I think you are doing everything you can do at this point. Keep eating paleo, iron-rich and vitaminC-rich foods, avoid anti-nutrients...Then, I think your ferritin level will go up naturally. Good luck!

Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624
0 · May 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I've heard a lot about floradix...gonna give it a try!

Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624
0 · May 18, 2012 at 12:46 PM

I just started eating paleo a few months ago, so it makes sense that I have a nice amount of iron circulating through my blood now. But, during my pregnancy and early nursing when a lot of iron is required, I apparently was not getting enough and depleting my stores. I am not celiac, but realize the my past consumption of grains has probably made mineral absorption more difficult.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · May 18, 2012 at 6:43 AM

I'm curious to know what folks come up with here. I've always had very low ferritin, and sometimes low, but usually normal serum iron levels as well. There's been a lot of shoulder shrugging at doc visits, with a "we'll just keep and eye on it" game plan.

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18 Answers

8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082
3
1857 · May 18, 2012 at 5:11 AM

Have you had liver and thyroid function tests? Liver makes ferritin and thyroid is involved in its production. Aside from that, I can't think of a single medical condition in which serum iron is high, but ferritin low ... ferritin is a ubiquitous protein in nearly all cellular life, whose only function is to transport ferrous iron.

@coffeesnob is right that celiac and Vit C deficiency are associated with low ferritin, but both are also associated with low serum iron.

Lastly, do you have any lead exposure? Lead binds hemoglobin, displaces iron (free serum iron), and can damage liver (though most famously kidney). But typically one doesn't see a reduction in ferritin with lead poisoning. If your transferrin/TIBC levels are rather low, that might be your culprit.

If not, maybe try eating blood sausage with a blood orange? Best of luck.

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6
0 · May 18, 2012 at 10:35 PM

Thank you for your response, interrobung. I am glad to hear the newly found emphasis on nutrition as a part of medical school curricula.

8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082
0 · May 18, 2012 at 5:01 PM

@coffeesnob Having only been a student at one DO school and zero MD schools, I can't say authoritatively. That being said, I've found most medical schools teach only paltry nutrition, DO/MD alike, and what is taught is usually the norm. DO schools probably do a better job, overall, at emphasizing the need for diet/nutrition as a primary intervention, and DO students tend to be a smidge more open to non-standard ideas of nutrition. But licensing exams (DO and MD) are beginning to test nutrition far more heavily (especially the biochem involved), so I expect this to improve gradually.

8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082
0 · May 18, 2012 at 4:56 PM

@jessica it probably isn't bad for you, but it's almost certainly not a superfood: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=85 Humans absorb animal-iron about 10-20x as effectively as plant iron; if 2T blackstrap only gives you 13% DV and its calories still come mostly from the sugar content, and it contains no Vit C to help with the absorption, it's probably not worth it *at least on its own* as a way to try to increase your ferritin. If you're still nursing, it will just take time: your baby needs it more than you do c:

Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624
0 · May 18, 2012 at 4:20 PM

I have had my thyroid function looked at pretty closely but not my liver function. I have been trying to combine iron and vit C consumption & no lead exposure. I think that my iron stores were worn down during my pregnancy and it will take some time to build them back up...mostly got concerned when I seemed to be losing more hair than I ever had coupled with lethargy. My iron was tested 3 months ago, so I think I'll go in soon to see if my efforts have had an impact. Any thoughts on blackstrap molasses?

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6
0 · May 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Glad to see a paleo medical student! Do you think DO schools put more emphasis on nutrition than MD schools?

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6
3
2422 · May 18, 2012 at 3:14 AM

I guess you can avoid foods that interfere with iron absorption. So you would want to avoid foods with phytic acid, oxalic acid and/or tannic acid. Also you can incorporate foods that enhance iron absorption. These foods will be high in vitamin C, citrate, and amino acids.

Do you have celiac? I am just trying to understand why you have a normal serum level for iron but a low ferritin level.

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6
0 · May 18, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Oh! That explains. I think you are doing everything you can do at this point. Keep eating paleo, iron-rich and vitaminC-rich foods, avoid anti-nutrients...Then, I think your ferritin level will go up naturally. Good luck!

Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624
0 · May 18, 2012 at 12:46 PM

I just started eating paleo a few months ago, so it makes sense that I have a nice amount of iron circulating through my blood now. But, during my pregnancy and early nursing when a lot of iron is required, I apparently was not getting enough and depleting my stores. I am not celiac, but realize the my past consumption of grains has probably made mineral absorption more difficult.

C43ab9419b86c0522fe6e573d8dce47a
2
60 · May 25, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Actually it is very common for serum iron to be in the normal range while ferritin is low particularly in women. My nurse practitioner says she sees this often. It just means that iron intake and or absorption are marginal and so there is only enough for the body to use for the most highly prioritize things but not enough to have much storage iron which is is used for functions lower in priority for survival. According to her, just low ferritin can lower energy and she sees women feel better when ferritin is brought up.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc
2
24271 · May 18, 2012 at 3:42 AM

Ugh. I have the same problem. Honestly I was not able to resolve this with diet. I ingest a ton of iron and like you my serum levels were great. I had to take Poly Iron 150, no other iron supplement helped. I hope you find what works for you.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc
0 · May 18, 2012 at 5:34 PM

I'm not exactly sure jessica. I took 6 months to try to get it up with diet alone. I tested at 3 months and no change. Tried to eat more iron rich foods and tested again and was even lower than originally. I went on the Poly iron at that point but wasn't tested again for a year so I'm not sure if it helped immediately or if it took 6+months or whatever. It did get them up into a nice healthy range. I'm getting tested again in a month or two and admittedly I've slacked off on the iron supplements so I'll be interested to see where I am now.

Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624
0 · May 18, 2012 at 4:59 PM

How long did it take to raise?

0d908c7e8f9086a6157287630b875aa1
1
10 · October 11, 2012 at 5:36 AM

This pretty interesting my new doctor is a genuis a super brillant person who speaks all over the world. When I had my first appointment with the dr I said I'm an anemic and the dr goes did you ask you old doctor what causing the anemia ? ??? The doctor goes onto it could be internal bleeding it could be fungus in your blood that is eating all of your iron, so you take more iron so the parasite/fungus eats more of it it is a cycle. The fungus issue would be the first matter to be treated ! My symptoms were; exhausted felt dizzy; light headed , dry eyes felt and like I going to fall down; shortness of breath and my skin itched like crazy. The the doctor goes something is causing the low iron. So a doctor was actually looking at the cause of the problem wow that was amazing Let's not mask the problem here. Anyhow I have been reading about some cases of people that had shortness of breath and they get diagnosed with asthma and started inhaler Only later to find out it is a vitamin defieciency . Also shortness of breath, rapid heart may be anemic or low ferritin or it could be sinus infection or outer or inner ear infection but many times doctors may not think of it, they are looking for something acute

8ce0d41f151bd1229aa952feb3200a16
1
10 · May 26, 2012 at 1:17 AM

I had a son who was anemic and for us the key was wild caught clams. He would eat them with tomato sauce and it really helped him. You can buy cans of wild caught clams and check the label because I believe they are the food with the most iron. The farmed ones are not that high. You also need to eat them with something acidic like tomato sauce and do not eat them with dairy.

B23318c968ac589b87131d5b489d6e16
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1294 · May 18, 2012 at 5:53 AM

Herbal infusions of nettle and oatstraw and try the Floradix iron supplement, its an herbal iron, more absorbable then other forms.

Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624
0 · May 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I've heard a lot about floradix...gonna give it a try!

2a0f1afde303eadc422d015fc22f7512
1
1118 · May 18, 2012 at 5:24 AM

I know Chris Kresser talks about this quite a bit on his podcasts. I'd go check his site.

74a3a180540575fd0cbb61cb936fd6e7
0
0 · September 02, 2013 at 8:29 PM

I have hypothyroidism and Candida. My Iron Serum and % Iron Saturation levels tested high but my Ferritin levels were low. I've been able raise my Ferritin levels over the last 5 months slowly, at least 1 point per month, by taking a sublingual supplement of Coenzymated B6. It's only 25 MG but it appears to be working. I get my Ferritin level tested on a regular basis but I haven't had my Iron Serum and % Iron Saturation levels tested in 8 months. Which means that I don't know how or if the B6 is effecting them. I wish we didn't have to search for help on these issues. Such is life. Good luck everyone.

C652bfbf9edcdde8418b33c640897e36
0
0 · August 14, 2013 at 9:53 PM

Hi. I read this on a site where the lady was doing self-research, I don't know what her findings were, but, like many had low ferritin. She added dehydrated molasses, made into capsules, realized that inositol was in or created by the molasses ingestion, then added inositol. This was to correct a slow metabolism, this helped her. I am trying it but it is too soon to know if it is helping. Candida and other things can keep iron from absorbing, so a body can have toxic iron levels building, but be anemic. Candida and fungal issues are strongly related. Adding iodine/iodide may help if there is additional thyroid issues as well as help dispel the candida. I am now adding selenium as well, as this is needed for thyroid glandulars to be used as well. I am currently trying the approach of thyroid desiccated, multi glandular, inositol, iodine/iodide and selenium for thyroid. As well as b6 and b12 and zinc for pyloric symptoms, and DHEA at a higher level for a few months, then 5 mg per day to help balance cortisol levels and help the adrenals.

Despite ketogenic diet, and previous paleo diet, I lose weight at snail speed. Chronic inflammation and nsaids, prolonged for years after an accident, years of gaining weight during this time. Added exercise and keto diet not resulting in additional losses. Am attempting to correct thyroid, (always had low body temperature and low blood pressure and anemia diagnosis since a teenager, only weighed 108 before my babies at age 23, and always at lowest level of "normal" thyroid charts, even when this size. Now that I have been gaining steadily from diagnosis of adrenal system failing and forced rest for three days, and steady stress, assuming this created high cortisol levels. Normal sugar levels, indicating a metabolic syndrome. This is the therapy I am trying, my inflammation is less and no nsaids, just herbs and acv, for 30 days so far! Again, almost nonexistent weight loss still.

Hope this helps for anyone wanting to research further!

071d780425646527ba29aa5bfbad7742
0
0 · August 03, 2013 at 8:00 PM

My daughter had ferritin level of 6 but not anemic. She is 14 and a competitive swimmer. She needs to be over 50. She got very ill during the first 48 hours of altitude training due to this. We've supplemented 14 months now with frequent testing and her free iron is very high at 345 but her ferritin is just 20.8. She is not absorbing to store. We've ruled out hypothyroid (which I am) and lyme disease. Lyme can cause this condition and we do know of 2 individuals that had the same and tested positive for lyme. Next testing is h.pylori and celiac. Celiac can cause this condition I've found in my research. If those are clear, we'll see what the Sports Medicine doc at Texas Children's can suggest. Her diet is good and she trains well, but not achieving results expected due to her running out of steam at long meets. Anyway, I've offered a few more suggestions I hope are helpful!

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0 · July 28, 2013 at 1:46 AM

Causes of low ferritin when other labs look great can point to bacteria and viruses feeding on iron making ferritin levels low. An Example can be H Pylori. A bacteria that lives in the stomach causing ulcers, gastritis, inflammation and other symptoms. It is estimated that 50% of people in the US have the bacteria in their gut and don't know it. Even too much of certain herbs like Milk Thistle can lower ferritin.

588691f09848821902da0d70fd4d7c8a
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0 · July 26, 2013 at 5:41 AM

I AM 48 YEARS OLD FEMALE WITH OSTEOPOROSIS, AND HB-12.9 BUT MY FERRHINTIN LEVEL IS 15.5, I AM LOOSING MY HAIR FAST , I AM VEGETARIAN AND I N INDIA, TALING BEET ROOT , POMEGRANT, SPINACH, CHEESE, MILK PRODUCTS, BROCCLI, SPERULINA AND FLASEEDS. FOLIC ACID TABLETS , FEFOL Z TWICE A DAY TOO. WHAT ELSE CAN I TAKE PLEASE ADVICE. i have family history of thyroid, but my liver and thyroid tests are o.k SIMI

63691f69a6fa3d642fc4d7909da58961
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0 · July 13, 2013 at 4:12 AM

I just found out my ferritin is... 4. Talking about feeling like crap! I've been dizzy, short of breath with slight tightness in chest at times. I saw someone posted that their skin was itchy. I've had chronic idiopathic hives since March ( probably not related though). My hct is 10.8.

7b0be2c6f585d336fa33bb182ee4be1e
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0 · May 09, 2013 at 12:42 AM

I am also having an issue with my serum iron being very high and my ferritin being very low, my hemoglobin and hematocrit are both low as well? I cannot figure it out? Anyone have a clue what the culprit could be? THanks

72cd359efb959175e2c7786ea0450879
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68 · April 11, 2013 at 8:16 AM

I am male, 53. I am told for optimal thyroid function, my serum ferritin needs to be @ 150-200. I have never been more than 90 no matter how much I supplement or what foods I eat. My latest test showed my serum iron elevated (193) and my ferritin actualy decreased (45) despite taking a liquid (Spatone) and capsule iron supplement. If I take more than this, I get bound up pretty quickly.

So, my serum iron is saturated, but I am low in storage. Anyone assist in interpreting what this means and why?

B9f9182d8dcccb3d752b47d59423b5fd
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0 · January 05, 2013 at 2:07 AM

what was the name of the fungus in the blood? How did they test for it?

153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85
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762 · May 25, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Blockquote try the Floradix iron supplement, its an herbal iron,

Floradix is regular iron, it has some herbs in it, but the iron in it is still the regular stuff.

They don't like to advertise it, and they try to keep an image of "herbal", and "natural" iron, but they will tell you what it is in an e-mail. That's how I found about it.

I would recommend trying out Spatone, but I don't know if it's possible to get your hands on it in the US. I know it has helped a lot of people, including me.

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