A ferritin blood test checks the amount of
ferritin in the blood. Ferritin is a
protein in the body that binds to iron; most of the
iron stored in the body is bound to ferritin. The amount of ferritin found in
the blood is the same amount that is in the body.
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.
- 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
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
- High ferritin levels may also be caused by
leukemia, infection, inflammatory conditions (such as
lupus), or a diet that is too high in
- Too much iron in body organs, such as the pancreas or heart,
can affect how the organ works.
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
colon polyps ,
hemorrhoids , or other conditions). In rare cases, too
much iron may be lost through the skin (because of a disease such as
psoriasis ) or in the urine.