Ferritin is a protein in the cells of the body that stores iron. Doctors can take a blood sample and test your ferritin level to better understand how much iron your body is storing and to determine whether your ferritin level needs to be adjusted. A level that is too low points to an iron deficiency. If your ferritin level is too high, this could indicate liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism or inflammatory diseases. If you have excess iron in your body, a condition known as hemochromatosis, you can take natural steps to reduce your ferritin level.
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Avoid supplements that contain iron, such as multivitamins. Also avoid taking extra Vitamin C, since it increases the body's ability to absorb iron. Eating fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C is safe in moderation. What should be avoided are supplements containing more Vitamin C than is naturally found in fruits and vegetables.
Cook with glass or ceramic cookware. Iron from skillets and grills can get into your food while cooking. Once your ferritin levels are back to normal and monitored regularly, you can resume using iron cookware.
Eat foods that inhibit the absorption of iron. These include walnuts, cocoa, tea, coffee, purple grapes, rice and foods that are high in fibre and calcium. Consuming such foods will prevent excess iron from remaining in your blood. Additionally, the herb milk thistle has been known to reduce excess iron.
Stop eating foods that are rich in iron until your ferritin levels are within a normal range. Such foods include red meat, chicken, eggs, green leafy vegetables, legumes and nuts.
Tips and warnings
- Have your doctor monitor your ferritin level regularly. Levels can decrease for a short period of time and increase again later.
- Do not consume alcohol while your ferritin levels are too high. Liver damage can occur when alcohol combines with excess iron.
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