As Measured by Ferritin
Ferritin is a protein in the body that stores iron and releases it in a measured fashion when your body needs it.
The largest concentrations of ferritin are usually found in the cells of the liver (known as hepatocytes) and immune system (known as reticuloendothelial cells).
Ferritin is accumulated in the cells until the body indicates to make more red blood cells. The body then signals to the cells to release ferritin. The ferritin then binds to another substance called transferrin and together they transport to a location where new red blood cells are created.
Observing the ferritin levels in your blood can give you an insight into the overall levels of iron in your body.
It’s important for the body to have adequate levels of iron in the body. The body relies on iron in red blood cells to transport oxygen to all of its cells. Too much or too little iron can indicate a serious underlying problem.
The higher the ferritin levels in your blood, the more indicated stored iron your body has. Higher levels may indicate hemochromatosis, a condition that causes your body to absorb too much iron from the food you eat or damage to your organs, such as the liver due to alcohol consumption. Lower levels of ferritin may indicate anaemia or an iron deficiency in the body.
The test can also be used to monitor your overall health, particularly if you have an iron-related condition that causes you to have too much or too little iron in your blood.
It has been suggested that iron levels, immune function and inflammation are heavily linked. During a time of infection, increased ferritin levels represent an important defense mechanism and protects immune cell function. (1)