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Ferritin Deficiency Symptoms

author image Rae Uddin
Rae Uddin has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2004. She specializes in scientific journalism and medical and technical writing. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Uddin earned her Master of Science in integrated biomedical sciences with an emphasis in molecular and cellular biochemistry from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
Ferritin Deficiency Symptoms
Low ferritin levels in the blood can result in iron deficiency anemia. Photo Credit blood glass image by robert mobley from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

People with ferritin deficiency are commonly diagnosed with a condition called iron-deficiency anemia. Ferritin is a type of protein in the body responsible for storing iron. If a person has unusually low levels of ferritin in her blood, she typically also has low levels of iron in her blood. Approximately 20 percent of women and 3 percent of men have insufficient levels of iron, according to MedlinePlus. People who develop ferritin deficiency symptoms, which mimic those of iron-deficiency anemia, should seek care from a medical professional.

Weakness and Fatigue

Inadequate levels of ferritin and iron in the blood limit the body's ability to produce red blood cells. Red blood cells play a crucial role in transporting oxygen to cells, tissues and organs throughout the body, KidsHealth explains. If these components of the body do not receive enough oxygen, they can't produce the energy needed to sustain a person's normal physical activities. Consequently, people with ferritin deficiency may experience increased weakness and fatigue, which can contribute to decreased concentration while at school or work.

Breathing Difficulties, Dizziness or Headache

Low ferritin and iron levels can cause breathing difficulties in affected people, MayoClinic.com reports. Shortness of breath may lead to additional symptoms of dizziness or headache in people with ferritin deficiency. Sensations of lightheadedness generally occur most frequently when a person attempts to stand or sit up quickly.

Pale Skin, Brittle Nails or Cold Extremities

Red blood cells are what give skin its healthy pink glow. People with deficient ferritin levels also have low red blood cell levels, which can cause them to develop unusually pale skin, MedlinePlus explains. Additionally, poor blood flow to the extremities due to ferritin or iron deficiency can cause people to experience frequently cold hands or feet or unusually brittle nails that easily break, crack or crumble.

Diminished Appetite, Sore Tongue or Irritability

A diminished appetite or sore tongue can occur as symptoms of ferritin deficiency. Decreased food intake, accompanied by fatigue, weakness or headache, can cause people with this condition to become abnormally irritable or cranky. These mood changes may persist or become worse if ferritin and iron levels in the body are not restored to normal.


People who have ferritin or iron deficiency can develop an unusual craving to ingest substances that do not have any nutritional value, such as dirt, clay or ice, according to The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. This eating disorder is called pica and the cravings associated with this symptom typically resolve after a person receives appropriate treatment for ferritin deficiency.

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