Ferritin is a stored form of iron. Normal ferritin levels are 10 to 200 micrograms per liter for an adult female and 15 to 400 micrograms per liter for an adult male, according to Richard J. Wood, Ph.D., director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Jean B. Mayer Nutrition Research Laboratory at Tufts University, in the 2005 edition of “Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease.” Alcoholic liver disease, hereditary hemochromatosis and chronic use of iron supplements can cause abnormally high ferritin levels. You can lower ferritin through regular blood donation. Ask your doctor if this is right for you.
Make an appointment with a local blood bank.
Arrive for the appointment at least 10 minutes in advance. Bring your driver’s license or another form of identification and your blood donor card, if you have previously donated blood.
Complete the registration process. You will be asked for your identification and about risk factors for blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV. Your responses are confidential, so answer the questions truthfully.
Participate in the physical assessment. This usually involves measuring your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, as well as a fingerstick blood test to make sure you have enough hemoglobin and hematocrit to donate blood safely.
Donate blood. This phlebotomist will insert a needle into your arm and withdraw a pint of blood over a period of about 10 minutes.
Consume a snack and a beverage as directed. Staff will usually direct you to remain in the snack area for at least 15 minutes, so they can monitor you for adverse reactions, such as fainting. Do not leave the center until you have been cleared by the blood bank staff.
Repeat, as directed by your doctor. Usually, you will not be allowed to donate more frequently than once every eight weeks.
Each pint of blood contains about 250 mg of iron. Normally, your body stores about 2 to 4 g of iron. People with elevated ferritin store more. Your doctor will tell you how frequently you should donate blood to restore your ferritin levels to normal.
Always eat and drink normally before you donate blood. If you dehydrate easily, consider drinking extra fluids on the day you donate blood.
If you become dizzy after donating blood, do not drive home. Wait until you are not dizzy or arrange for a friend or family member to help you.
Always answer the questions at the blood bank truthfully. If you have risk factors for blood-borne diseases or if you have previously tested positive for a blood-borne disease, the blood bank may decline you as a donor. In this case, contact your doctor. He can arrange for your blood to be withdrawn at a laboratory where it can be safely discarded.