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When Ferritin Levels are High but Iron is Not

high ferritin levels

Can you have high ferritin without high iron levels? Here you’ll learn about this common cause of high ferritin and how to fix it. 

Causes of High Ferritin Levels

One common thing I see in patients is abnormal ferritin levels. In this case, we’re going to talk about high ferritin. One of the more common causes I’ve seen for high ferritin is not iron overload, but metabolic syndrome, which is also known as insulin resistance. Some of the symptoms can include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, excess belly fat, high glucose, A1C, and insulin. 

So how do you know what is the cause of your high ferritin levels? Proper lab testing is the number one way to discover the cause of high ferritin levels.

High Ferritin Labs

A patient came in recently who complained of fatigue, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, insomnia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and frequent urinary tract infections.  One of the most common tests we do is a comprehensive health panel where we check ferritin, iron, TIBC, and percent saturation, CBC (complete blood count) chemistry panel, CRP (C-Reactive Protein) for inflammation, GGT, LDH, lipids, TSH, free T3, free T4, uric acid, insulin and A1C. Some of the other tests I like to run include DHEA, cortisol, B12, folic acid, vitamin D, and the hormones testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and IGF1. 

High Ferritin with Anemia Case Study 

This patient’s results showed high ferritin at 512 and high insulin at 24.2. Even though it’s within the normal range of 2 to 24.5, optimal insulin levels are between 2-4. His glucose and A1C were normal; however insulin was very high indicating insulin resistance and he had high inflammation. 

He was also anemic. He had high ferritin, was anemic, had low hemoglobin, low red blood count, and many other positive findings. This patient had certain nutrient deficiencies, toxins, infections, yeast overgrowth, gut inflammation, leaky gut, hormonal imbalance, low DHEA, testosterone, and food reactions. Besides gluten sensitivity and celiac genetics, he had other food sensitivities as well. 

Diet for High Ferritin

Treating insulin resistance is quite simple between diet and supplements. The diet I  to put patients on is an anti-inflammatory diet I’ve developed over the last 37 years of practice. I call it The FreeDiet® because it’s free of gluten, grains, sugar, yeast, dairy, eggs, soy, legumes, nightshades, and processed foods. Free of those foods that are commonly responsible for inflammation, digestive, and other chronic health issues. 

For breakfast you eat a smoothie that is high in protein, essential fats, fruits, vegetables, and fiber. For lunch and dinner you can eat protein: meat, chicken, or fish, and plenty of vegetables and a lot of healthy fats. It’s important to avoid snacks in between meals. There is a link below for the FreeDiet® food chart and a recipe for the smoothie. 

Supplements for High Ferritin

I started the patient on the supplements that I call the Functional Five: ActivMulti™, OmegaSorb™3X fish oil, D3 5000 +K2, Magnesium Malate, and a  probiotic in his case PriobioXtreme™. When someone has insulin resistance issues, I use a product called CardioMetaboliX™ to support healthy blood sugar regulation. Curcumin Protect™, Liver Support, C-BIO™ 600, gut support supplements, and some other nutrients that he was deficient in. 

Follow up Testing for High Ferritin

After one month, his ferritin dropped from 512 to 316- almost 40% reduction (and 248 or 52% at 3 months). His insulin had over 75% reduction in four weeks. There was a decrease in uric acid, his kidney function and liver function numbers improved to normal, and his inflammatory marker CRP went down 65% to optimal levels. 

He was no longer anemic after four weeks and platelets decreased to normal, his ANA (autoimmune marker) was normal after four weeks, and Hashimoto’s thyroid antibodies improved. His DHEA increased dramatically to normal levels and his cortisol decreased to the normal range. His testosterone went up over 50% or 164 points to normal and his PSA decreased at the same time to optimal levels. 

Improved Quality of Life

The best part was he was feeling more energy; sleeping through the night and got off his sleeping pills. He dropped 17 pounds in four weeks, and his joint pain and back pain improved dramatically. He was feeling so much better.

So the number one thing for high ferritin is to do the proper testing, because if you find out the underlying root cause, then you can be provided with the right solutions. When you do this, I believe almost anyone can get better. If you’d like a complimentary copy of  The FreeDiet® phase one food chart, click here. 

A Simple Ferritin Blood Test (that can save your life!)

test ferritin levels

test ferritin levelsA simple blood test can save your life (or vastly improve your health). It’s amazing how much we can learn about your health by properly analyzing a blood test.  Numerous conditions can show up, such as infections, deficiencies, and even allergies, just by ordering the proper blood test.

One of the most important readings in blood tests is your ferritin levels.  Ferritin indicates the amount of iron in your body’s organs and tissues.  Unfortunately, this is not checked on routine blood tests; and just because someone does not have iron-deficiency anemia does not mean they have normal ferritin levels.  “Normal” ferritin levels vary between different labs, but it can be a range of  10-300 ng/ml. However, my range for optimal ferritin test levels is 60-90 ng/ml.

So, why is this so important? Iron is essential to your health, but too little iron in your body can lead to many health issues. Too much of it can be toxic, causing organ damage, a long list of symptoms, and even death. When you have too little iron in your system, it can cause symptoms like body aches, fatigue, weakness, heart palpitations, low sex drive, irritability, restless leg syndrome, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety, headaches, hair loss, mood swings, dizziness, forgetfulness, and trouble concentrating.

When your iron levels are too high, referred to as “Hemochromatosis,” it can cause many of the exact same symptoms as too little iron.  The biggest difference is that if you don’t treat the high iron levels, then over time, it can cause organ damage and eventually lead to things like cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure, and even death. Ferritin blood tests are something that we commonly include in the lab profiles we order for our patients.  If you haven’t had your levels checked with a ferritin lab test, I would suggest you do.

If you have any questions, please give us a call, email, or contact us here. We would be happy to test ferritin levels, iron levels, and whatever else you need to be your best self.

Dr. Tom Rofrano

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