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Ferritin

Results continued...

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Ferritin 1
Men:

18–270 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or 18–270 micrograms per liter (mcg/L)

Women:

18–160 ng/mL or 18–160 mcg/L

Children:

7–140 ng/mL or 7–140 mcg/L

Babies 1 to 5 months:

50–200 ng/mL or 50–200 mcg/L

Newborns:

25–200 ng/mL or 25–200 mcg/L

High values

  • Very high ferritin levels (greater than 1,000 ng/mL) can mean a large buildup of iron in the body (hemochromatosis). One form of this condition is passed on in families (genetic hemochromatosis). Some diseases, including alcoholism, thalassemia, and some types of anemia that cause red blood cells to be destroyed, can also cause hemochromatosis. Also, if you have many blood transfusions, this can sometimes cause the body to store too much iron (acquired hemochromatosis).
  • High ferritin levels may also be caused by Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, infection, inflammatory conditions (such as arthritis or lupus), or a diet that is too high in iron.
  • Too much iron in body organs, such as the pancreas or heart, can affect how the organ works.

Low values

Low ferritin levels often mean an iron deficiency is present. This can be caused by long-term (chronic) blood loss from heavy menstrual bleeding, pregnancy, not enough iron in the diet, or bleeding inside the intestinal tract (from ulcers, colon polyps camera.gif, colon cancer, hemorrhoids camera.gif, or other conditions). In rare cases, too much iron may be lost through the skin (because of a disease such as psoriasis camera.gif) or in the urine.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Having a blood transfusion in the past 4 months.
  • Being a female athlete whose amount of activity has changed her menstrual cycle.
  • Having conditions that cause inflammation in the body, such as from illness or from a surgery.
  • Having a radioactive scan in the past 3 days.
  • Taking medicines, such as birth control pills and antithyroid medicines.
  • Age. Older adults may have a higher ferritin value.
  • Eating a diet high in red meats.

What To Think About

  • A ferritin test is often done with other tests to check the amount of iron in the blood, especially the iron and iron-binding capacity levels. To learn more, see the topic Iron (Fe).
  • A bone marrow biopsy camera.gif can check the amount of iron stored in the bone marrow. To learn more, see the topic Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy.
  • Because inflammation in the body can cause high ferritin levels, a test result that is slightly high does not always mean a buildup of iron (hemochromatosis) is present.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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