High Ferritin- Causes and Treatment

If you have thyroid or gut issues, fatigue, or brain fog, then you will want to learn about these simple tests that can really help you. My name is Tom Rofrano from the Natural Medicine Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Over the last 34 years of seeing 100,000+ patient visits, one of the most common things I see when I get lab test results back is the patient’s ferritin level is not within the optimal range. Ferritin is a storage protein for iron, and one of the values it represents is whether you have too much or too little iron. 

Ferritin level is important because if your iron is too low, you can get symptoms like fatigue, weakness, difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath, hair loss, decreased thyroid hormones T4 and T3. Low iron is also involved with Irritable Bowel Syndrome because when you have gut issues like IBS, you tend to have malabsorption of food, so your body does not absorb enough iron. Also, blood loss or too little iron intake are other common causes of low ferritin.

Normal and Optimal Ferritin Lab Values

The normal range of a ferritin lab lest depending on the lab, is usually 10 to 150 ng/ml for females or 20 to 400 ng/ml for men. That means you can have a result of say, 10 ng/ml, and be considered within normal range but feel terrible: exhausted, not able to think straight, and weakness are common symptoms. 

I found that the optimal range for ferritin is between 60 and 90 ng/ml. That is the optimal ferritin level I recommend because below that you can start to suffer from symptoms such as fatigue and weakness. As a matter of fact, one of the common causes of hair loss is low ferritin levels, and once ferritin level drops below 40 or 50 ng/ml, hair loss can occur. This information can be invaluable to someone suffering from an unknown cause of symptoms.

Iron Overload

Now, on the other hand, high ferritin levels can represent iron overload. It can also represent other things which we will delve deeper into later. If your ferritin level is too high, you can also get very similar symptoms to low ferritin, like fatigue, brain fog, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeats, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and infertility.

Yes, infertility can be caused by iron overload and can also be caused by too little iron. And there are many other symptoms and conditions as well that can be caused by either. 

The cause of elevated ferritin level from iron overload can be due to hemochromatosis, which is a genetic condition. There are also other causes of high ferritin levels, such as chronic illnesses like liver disease, certain anemias, and even cancer.

Excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time can increase ferritin levels, and insulin resistance is a common cause of high ferritin as well. People should not generally assume that a high ferritin level is always from iron overload.

Running the Correct Labs for Ferritin

I made a video on this subject a while back, where I had a 64-year-old female patient whose ferritin levels were over a thousand: 1,094 ng/ml. We did the genetic testing and discovered she had hemochromatosis. 

By following my protocol, she was able to lower her ferritin over 1000 points in four weeks, which is an amazing improvement for iron overload disease. 

Many cases of high ferritin are not from iron overload but are from insulin resistance, which is more common than you think. The way you discover that not just by running a ferritin test alone. You must run a full iron panel and check serum iron, percent saturation, iron-binding capacity, and ferritin level to really get a true picture of what is going on. 

And you really need to go beyond that. So instead of just asking your doctor to run ferritin level, you want to ask for ferritin level plus an iron panel, which covers the %saturation, TIBC, and iron. You also want to get a CBC, a chemistry panel, CRP, which is for inflammation, lipids, thyroid, markers, GGT, uric acid, and insulin. 

There are other functional lab tests that can be helpful as well to find out what is the root cause. Almost every patient I see has either too little ferritin or too much, so it’s really important to get a more complete picture.

Why Running the Correct Labs is Important

I did have a patient recently who had high ferritin levels, but her iron was low, which is like an oxymoron. Her ferritin level was 316 ng/ml, which is about twice the lab normal value. 

At first glance, you may think she had iron overload when in fact, her iron saturation % was low and her iron was on the low side as well. What she did have was insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. 

Insulin resistance is a condition that can lead to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, which she did have. She also had a whole list of other symptoms like digestive, fatigue, skin issues, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. 

We put her on the diet I like to use for these chronic health issues. I call it the FreeDiet®  because it is free of not only gluten but gluten, grains, sugar, yeast, dairy, eggs, soy, legumes, nightshades, and processed foods. It is free of foods commonly responsible for inflammation, digestive, and other chronic health issues.

I ran her blood test after she was on the FreeDiet® for four weeks. Not only was she feeling a lot better and had more energy, but her digestive issues cleared up, and her blood pressure dropped 21 points to normal levels. Her ferritin dropped in half down to 151 from 316, and her cholesterol dropped 61 points to normal. Her liver enzymes, which were elevated, dropped to normal levels by over 50%. Her inflammatory markers dropped by about 50% to normal levels. 

Before I met her, she suffered from PCOS, had infertility, and required IVF to get pregnant. PCOS is a hormone imbalance that can be related to excess ferritin, insulin resistance, elevated DHEA and testosterone. Her testosterone was 70 ng/dl which was almost twice normal levels, but her testosterone dropped dramatically by over 80% in four weeks on the FreeDiet® and supplements.

Supporting the Body to Heal

So, her iron was low and her ferritin was high. As her ferritin decreased, her iron came up to normal, even though she did not take an iron supplement. It is amazing what can happen if you start normalizing the body. Give the body what it needs and take away the things that are causing harm. 

For instance, I tested her, and she had gluten sensitivity. She was sensitive and allergic to other foods as well. So just a matter of getting all those things balanced out. I also gave her, besides the FreeDiet®, what I call the Functional Five™: multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D, magnesium, and probiotics. She was deficient in vitamin D, which is very common and I also added a Curcumin supplement to her regimen.

For people with iron overload, I often add Metal Cleanse™ if they have high iron or other toxic metals. Liver Support is an important supplement as well. 

If someone is iron deficient, of course, I use an iron supplement instead of Metal Cleanse™. Also, if someone has iron overload, the infrared sauna I use as part of the protocol as it can work very well at excreting out excess heavy metals, including iron.

Your Body Can Heal

It’s good to know that no matter what’s going on with you, if you get the right testing and find out what’s causing it, then you can be provided with specific solutions on how to heal. Not just feel better, but get better.

Thanks for joining me today. If you want a free copy of the FreeDiet® Phase 1 food chart, click here.

For more detailed info on the high ferritin protocol click here to see my book, the FreeDiet®. 

Thanks again for joining me today, and I will see you next time. 


  • emilie montgomery

    What a timely article as I am going through this currently and my doctor is completely flummoxed! I have high ferritin with low/normal iron panel. It is scary when something is wrong and no one knows what is the cause. Thank you for your insight and I am ordering your book today

  • I just found out I have high ferritin and low iron binding cap, slightly elevated iron. I was tested and determined I have hemochromatosis. I’m curious about this diet. I need my sudden tummy ache to go away and my back ache.
    Ordering your book!

  • My Ferritin level in November of 2021 was 330.57. I am a 64 year old female in pretty good health. I have nodules on my thyroid and get them biopsied about every 2 years. Do I need to be overly concerned? Thanks.

  • High ferritin and iron … I just got over our crazy pancreatitis about 3 months ago and then immediately had Covid . I have had a yellow tongue. Culture shows no fungus.
    And the ER doctor kept questioning me about Alcohol consumption. I’m as close to a non-drinker as anybody ever knew if I have four or five alcoholic beverages in a year I would say that would be about correct or less

  • My ferritin is a 6.4 ng/ml currently but my iron saturation 53.0 % (H) and my iron is 210(H) mcg/dl my transferrin is 284.0 MG/DL
    I had just started an iron supplement 2 nights prior not thinking about my blood draw the next day. I’ve had low iron and ferritin for a long time. I asked what the numbers meant and was told my body is hungry for iron. Is that so with the high iron level? Why is that high but my ferritin is so low? I have the free diet book and plan to start very soon I’m just so exhausted I feel like I can’t make it.
    Also multi nodular thyroid and a little GI issues. I can’t afford to see you yet but I’m getting things in order. Can you answer the question about the iron. That’s a start. Thank you
    Very Respectfully

    • Taking iron supplements may increase serum iron and saturation quickly while an increase in ferritin can take weeks or months. I have other videos on low ferritin you can take a look at.

  • My husband has long covid (8 months now) with so many problems. They found his ferritin was 1170, did gene test & said he is compound heterozygous and began phlebotomy. We were told it would take a long time for ferritin to drop but after 2 phlebotomy it dropped 467 to 703.. we were shocked this dropped so fast and asked the dr who told us everyone is different. My concern is so many things say if it drops rapidly it could be something else but no one seems to be looking at that. Any advice?

    • I have seen patients after Covid have high ferritin as a result of inflammation. So there are other causes for high ferritin other than iron overload, even with having a genetic trait for it.

  • Good Day!

    I am in early stage of pregnancy (6 weeks) and did ferritin test as per my doctor and the result is 1065. Is it still safe for me and my baby?

    • Hello, not able to comment on your case since you are not a patient, but in general it’s important to do additional testing to find out why the ferritin is high. Then you can be provided solutions to lower it.

  • Very interested in all of this. My ferritin level has been going up. It is around 184. I am female, age 63. I also have high platelets which I have been treating with low dose aspirin. Do you do tele-visits as I live in Pa?

  • Hi I was hospitalized with severe Covid and pneumonia for 12 daysAfter I got home and was reviewing my blood work it read that my ferritin level was 2200 My doctor never mentioned it but when I asked they said that is was because I was so sick and not to worry about it Not sure if I should be worried

  • Hi, I need some advice. I have high ferritin right now. It’s 238.
    My other values are normal
    Iron is 96
    TIBC 296
    Iron saturation 32%

    Is this from supplements?
    Would giving blood also decrease my iron levels as well as my ferritin??
    I did take iron supplements during pregnancy for low iron. 325mg capsule a day.
    I stopped taking them a month after I had my baby it’s been 2 months. I have been feeling off and so I got checked I assumed it was low iron but turns out ferritin is too high.

  • HI Dr. Tom, i had a ferritin test for the first time. My levels are 264.43 and flagged as high. my iron levels are 83 ug/DL; unsat.iron binding is 183, bibdibg capacity is 266; ug/DL; and transferrin sat is 31.20% – is that good? i have lost a lot of weight from 186 to now 149. my BP even after the weight loss remains elevated even after a meticulous diet which includes very little sodium.

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