Fatigued? Ask Your Doctor about Ferritin


If you are fatigued, but iron levels look ok, ask about your ferritin levels.

About one year after my oldest daughter, Merrin, was born I was still very tired. I blamed in on med school and being a new mom yet something felt off. I made an appointment with my doctor to get some lab tests done.

Everything looked fine; even my thyroid panel which is what we thought might be off. Interestingly though, despite an initial look at my iron markers which indicated I was not iron deficient, my diligent doctor decided to dig a little deeper and tested my ferritin levels.

Side note: Ferritin is a globular protein that is pretty much the primary storage of iron in the body. My levels were minuscule…so I was anemic, very anemic. But let’s step back a bit.

Why is Iron Important?

Iron is a critical component in the blood and particular, hemoglobin. Hemoglobin has the important job carrying oxygen to our cells to produce energy. When you are feeling fatigued, maybe a little weak and pale, you could be iron deficient. In my case, however, the standard tests for iron deficiency – a complete blood count (CBC) to determine size, shape, and color of the RBCs – looked normal. Since my other lab work looked good, my doctor performed the ferritin test. Some doctors will not suggest a ferritin test but it is important that you tell them you want them to rule it out; it is usually a very inexpensive test.

Iron Supplementation

This is crucial is you are iron deficient; however, not the only thing you could be doing. Choose a good supplement company and remember to take it with vitamin C  which will increases iron adsorption.

Food: Many people think they need to eat red meat to get a dose of iron, but there are other options: leafy greens, beans (chickpeas), nuts and seeds.

Other Things to Consider

Some research suggests that people with food allergies and especially, gluten sensitivity or celiac disease have iron deficiency. Candida or a parasitic infection (those germs LOVE iron) may also play a role. Take a look at your diet, and be aware of how you are digesting your foods. Do you have stomach aches after eating? Cramps, loose stools or are constipated? These could be signs that your digestive system is not working optimally leading to a loss of nutrient absorption which will eventually catch up to you and your health. Find a good doctor who can help and if you need help with that or would like to work with me, please contact me!


dr. heather

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