How To Know If You Have Low Ferritin Levels
By Heide Creduer
To understand the symptoms of low Ferritin levels, it helps to know what ferritin is and what role it plays in your body. Ferritin is an iron storage protein found in the liver, skeletal muscle, bone marrow, and intestinal mucosa. What it does is to keep the iron from being toxic to surrounding cells and keeps it usable as well. Having a sufficient amount of stored iron is essential to the body’s function in producing red blood cells. Ferritin levels are directly correlated with how much iron the body can store as well. When the body is not taking in enough iron, particularly the highly absorbable heme iron, this iron storehouse is depleted, reducing ferritin levels.
Common Symptoms of Low Ferritin
Unfortunately, low ferritin level symptoms are often very mild and can be wide ranging which can be attributed to other causes and for that reason, they often times get ignored. Iron depletion can be a slow process happening over time, and the decline in ferritin can even be symptomless. Nonetheless, low ferritin levels can mimic anemia and can even develop into an anemic condition. The symptoms may include:
• Faster heart rate
• Hair loss
• Foggy thinking
• Memory problems
• Loss of sex drive
• Increased irritability
• Abdominal pain
• Pica, or the compulsive eating of non-food items
• Pagophagia, or the compulsive eating of ice
• Numbness or tingling of extremities
Common Visual Signs
In addition to the list of possible symptoms, those with low levels of ferritin may also have visible signs of deficiencies that can be seen physically. These symptoms may include:
• Easy or excessive bruising
• Paleness of skin
• Brittle nails
• Sores at the corner of the mouth
Addressing Ferritin Deficiency
All it takes to determine if you have low ferritin levels is to go to the doctor and have a simple blood test administered. Speak to your health care provider about maintaining healthy iron levels through recommendations specific to your needs and screenings. Your doctor can give you lots of great dietary advice so you can boost your iron intake by eating foods high in heme iron. This can be found in red meat, chicken, egg yolks, artichokes, leafy greens such as spinach and collards, iron-enriched cereals and grains, mollusks, liver, beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans. You may also consider supplementing your diet with a heme iron supplement to help assure the proper intake of absorbable iron.
There are many places you can check to see what low ferritin symptoms are and how to treat it if you do have them. Heide Cruder researched the symptoms of iron deficiency to see if she needed to take an iron supplement.