HomeDiseaseCOVID-19Ferritin: what it is and why it may be high or low

Ferritin: what it is and why it may be high or low

Ferritin is a protein produced by the liver, responsible for storing iron in the body. Thus, the examination of serious ferritin is done with the aim of checking the lack or excess of iron in the body, for example.

Normally, in healthy individuals the reference value for serum ferritin is 23 to 336 ng / mL in men and 11 to 306 ng / mL in women, may vary according to the laboratory. However, in women it is normal to have low ferritin in pregnancy due to an increase in the amount of blood and iron passing through the placenta to the baby.

The test does not require fasting to be done and is performed from a blood sample. It is usually requested with other laboratory tests such as blood count, serious iron dosage and transferrin saturation, which is a protein synthesized mainly in the liver and whose function is to transport iron through the body.

What does low ferritin mean

Low ferritin usually means that iron levels are low and therefore the liver does not produce ferritin, as there is no iron available to be stored. The main causes of low ferritin are:

  • Iron deficiency anemia;
  • Hypothyroidism;
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding;
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding;
  • Diet low in iron and vitamin C;

Symptoms of low ferritin usually include tiredness, weakness, pallor, poor appetite, hair loss, headaches and dizziness. Its treatment can be done with the daily intake of iron or with diets rich in foods with vitamin C and iron, such as meat, beans or oranges.

What does high ferritin mean

Symptoms of high ferritin may indicate excessive iron accumulation, however, in some cases, it can also be a symptom of inflammation or infections, since it is an acute phase protein, which may be increased in the following situations:

  • COVID-19;
  • Hemolytic anemia;
  • Megaloblastic anemia;
  • Alcoholic liver disease;
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
  • Myocardial infarction in men;
  • Leukemia;
  • Hemochromatosis;

Symptoms of excess ferritin are usually joint pain, tiredness, shortness of breath or abdominal pain, and treatment for high ferritin depends on the cause, but is usually also supplemented with blood withdrawal to balance iron levels and adoption. of diets with few foods rich in iron or vitamin C.

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