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Ferritin – A reliable indicator of the body's iron stores

Ferritin – A reliable indicator of the body's iron stores

Ferritin is a protein that acts as an indicator of the body's iron stores. By measuring the levels of ferritin in the blood, you can get an idea of ​​how well the body's iron needs are met or whether you are in the risk zone for iron deficiency. Here you will learn more about what ferritin is and its role.

Quick version

The role of ferritin

Ferritin is a protein that stores iron within the body's cells and releases it as needed. Ferritin is present in almost all living cells, with the highest concentrations found in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. Thus, when we measure ferritin levels in the blood we get an understanding of the size of the body's total iron stores.

It is crucial that the body's iron needs are met because iron plays a critical role in the production of hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body.

Low ferritin – an indication of iron deficiency

Ferritin directly reflects the size of the body's iron reserve. A low ferritin value often indicates iron deficiency and a risk for anemia. Even if ferritin levels are within normal intervals, they can still be a sign of insufficient iron stores, especially in cases of inflammation where ferritin can be elevated regardless of iron status.

Iron deficiency can arise for several reasons, including extensive bleeding such as during menstruation or from ulcers, increased iron consumption, or inadequate intake and absorption of iron. Individuals who engage in endurance sports may have a higher need for iron. Vegetarians and individuals with absorption problems, such as those with celiac disease, may also experience difficulties in effectively absorbing iron.

Symptoms of iron deficiency can be subtle, with fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath, and hair loss being common. These symptoms can occur even before anemia (iron deficiency) is clinically confirmed, making ferritin a key marker for early diagnosis.

Do you have sufficient iron stores? Order a ferritin test and get answers to your values.

High ferritin

A high ferritin value can be seen in several conditions:

  • Hereditary hemochromatosis: A genetic disease that leads to excessive absorption of iron.
  • Dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome: Often linked to metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
  • Alcohol-induced hyperferritinemia: High ferritin levels due to high alcohol consumption.
  • Inflammation: Ferritin levels can increase in various inflammatory conditions, which do not directly reflect an iron surplus.
  • Other medical conditions: Certain chronic liver diseases and blood disorders can also elevate ferritin levels.

A high ferritin value can also be due to other causes, therefore it is important to investigate abnormal values thoroughly to determine the exact cause of the high ferritin level.

In summary, measuring ferritin is crucial for gaining a good insight into the body's iron stores. Even if your iron level is within normal reference ranges, measuring ferritin provides a more complete picture of your iron status. This is because ferritin directly reflects the amount of stored iron in the body, while the level of iron in the blood can be influenced by short-term changes in diet or hydration.

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