Ferritin is a protein found inside the body that aids in storing iron in the body. A blood test is used to measure the amount of ferritin in the body, which indirectly tests the amount of iron in your body. A lower than normal result may indicate that you do not have enough iron stores. To increase the ferritin level in your body, choose iron-rich foods and supplements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you eat a variety of foods from all food groups to prevent iron deficiency or low ferritin in the body. Foods naturally high in iron include clams, oysters, soybeans, lentils, spinach, beef and beans. You can also find foods fortified with iron such as cold breakfast cereals and instant cooked cereals.
Iron Enhancers and Inhibitors
Certain vitamins and phytochemicals that naturally occur in foods may enhance or inhibit your body's absorption of iron. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends that you get your vitamin C from fruits and vegetables to increase iron absorption from the foods you eat. The academy also recommends that you monitor foods that contain calcium, such as the dairy products in coffee, tea and cocoa, which may inhibit your body's iron absorption.
Types of Iron
Choosing the right kind of iron from foods is important if you want to increase your ferritin levels. Heme iron from meats such as fish, poultry and beef, is absorbed two or three times better than the type of iron found in plants. Beans, spinach and soy contain iron, but these plant foods provide non-heme iron that is absorbed less efficiently by the body. If you are vegetarian, your iron recommendations are 1.8 times more than those who eat meat.
If you have low ferritin and thus lower iron stores in the body, a supplement may also help you improve your blood levels. A multivitamin, especially those designed for women, will often contain 100 percent of the recommended daily value of iron. Supplements marketed for men or seniors often have less iron or no iron in them at all. Choose a supplement that contains ferrous iron, which is easier for your body to absorb.
- National Institute of Health Medline Plus: Ferritin.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets.
- National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency: How Much Do I Need?