Doctors and scientists sometimes measure the levels of ferritin and vitamin D in your body. Levels of both can serve as indicators for numerous health conditions. The levels of ferritin and vitamin D are measured via blood tests. Always discuss your findings with your health care provider to gain a correct interpretation.
Ferritin is a protein that is found inside your cells which stores iron. Your serum ferritin level, or the amount of ferritin found in your blood, is related directly to the amount of iron that is stored in your body. Your body needs iron for red blood cell production. Iron is found in red meat, poultry and seafood, in spinach and in fortified foods like cereal. A low ferritin level can indicate anemia, long-term digestive tract bleeding, heavy menstrual bleeding and intestinal conditions that cause poor iron absorption. High levels can indicate alcoholic liver disease or hemochromatosis, a disorder in which too much iron is absorbed from your gastrointestinal tract.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in your body. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and maintain an adequate concentration of phosphorus. It promotes hard teeth and strong bones. It also helps modulate neuromuscular and immune function, cell growth and function, and the reduction of inflammation. Food sources include fortified dairy products and fish. Your body also obtains vitamin D from sunlight. Low levels can indicate use of certain medicines, liver or kidney disease or malabsorption problems. Excessively high levels are usually caused by prescription supplements. Too much vitamin D can damage soft tissues, bones and kidneys.
For normal thyroid hormone transport and receptor response, you require normal levels of vitamin D and ferritin along with normal levels of cortisol, according to "The Hormone Makeover," by Donna White. Optimal vitamin D level is 60 to 80 nanograms per milliliter, or ng/mL. The level considered sufficient is 50 ng/mL. Optimal ferritin levels are 90 to 110 ng/mL. The normal range for ferritin is 12 to 300 ng/mL for men and 12 to 150 ng/mL for women.
Vitamin D and ferritin levels are being studied as biomarkers, meaning biochemical features used to measure disease progress, for autoimmune diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, dermatomyositis and autoimmune thyroid diseases. A 2007 study in the "Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences," found elevated blood levels of ferritin in 23 percent of systemic lupus erythematosus patients, 15 percent of dermatomyositis patients, 8 percent of multiple sclerosis patients and 4 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients. In general, all categories of patients had low vitamin D levels of 9.3 to 13.7 ng/ml. Vitamin D levels less than 20 ng/mL are deficient, notes lead study author H. Orbach.
High ferritin levels and low vitamin D levels have different immunological implications in the course of autoimmune diseases. For example, in certain cases preventive treatment with vitamin D should be considered. Hyperferritinemia, or high ferritin levels, on the other hand may be used as a marker of acute-phase disease in some cases, most notably systemic lupus erythematosus, according to Orbach. Identifying biomarkers is important because autoimmune disease development may be influenced by substances that affect your immune system and hormonal and metabolic pathways.
- “Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences”; Novel Biomarkers in Autoimmune Diseases: Prolactin, Ferritin, Vitamin D, and TPA Levels in Autoimmune Diseases; H. Orbach, et al.; 2007
- “The Hormone Makeover”; Donna White; 2010
- MedlinePlus: Ferritin
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- Colorado State University Extension: Fat-Soluble Vitamins