Where there is insufficient intake of iron through the diet, ferritin releases the stored iron to the blood to manage the deficiency of circulating iron. Ferritin combines with transferrin protein which carries it to the place where red blood cells are to be produced. If there is a deficiency of ferritin, supplements must be taken to avoid health problems. While there are some ferritin supplements prescribed by the doctor, there are many foods rich in ferritin too that can be taken regularly are supplements. Let us understand about the function of ferritin and some of the best natural ferritin supplements in detail.
Normal Ferritin Level
Though the normal slightly vary based on the laboratory, in general accepted values are given here.
- Newborns. 25 to 200 nanogram/ml
- Infants of 1 to 2 months. 200 to 600 nanogram/ml
- Infants of 2 – 5 months. 50 to 200 nanogram/ml
- Children from 6 months to 15 years. 7 to 140 nanogram/ml
- Adult males. 12 to 300 nanogram/ml
- Adult females. 12 to 150 nanogram/ml
- Females older than 40 years. 12 to 260 nanogram/ml
Functions of Ferritin
Along with the best natural ferritin supplements, it is also important to know the functions of ferritin. Some of them are.
- Ferritin as the Source of Iron in the Body. As ferritin stores iron in the cells, it serves as a source of iron. It is supplied where the necessity of iron is there.
- Ferritin helps in Detoxification. Ferritin reduces the formation of reactive oxygen species which would otherwise be toxic. Thus it helps in detoxification.
- Regulating the Concentration of other Minerals. Researches say that ferritin regulates the concentration of other minerals also, such as zinc, cadmium, lead, etc.
- Maintaining Balance. Ferritin is storage of iron. It maintains balance between iron deficiency and excess of iron by releasing the iron whenever required.
- Protective Function of Ferritin. Ferritin also provides skin protection against harmful UV radiation.
- Function of Ferritin in the Healing Process. Ferritin stimulates the growth of blood vessels and thus helps in the healing process.
- Ferritin and the Health of Hair. Ferritin is found to increase the duration of anagen and telogen phases of hair growth which are essential for increasing the length of hair and holding the hair to the scalp. It is also found to reduce hair fall and promoting regrowth of hair thus avoiding baldness.
Best Ferritin Supplements
Ferritin is very much essential for carrying out the normal functions of the body. The foods rich in iron should be included in the diet to maintain the normal ferritin level. The inclusion of the two forms of iron heme and nonheme enhances the ferritin level.
Heme Iron Rich Foods. Heme iron is mainly found in animal food. It is found to be a better absorbed form of iron. Such foods are some of the best natural ferritin supplements.
The foods include.
- Sea foods such as clams, oysters, mussels, fish like perch, salmon, tuna
- Red meat
- Liver (it should be moderately consumed as it is also the source of cholesterol).
Non-heme Iron Rich Foods. Non-heme iron is mainly found in plants, which too are some of the best natural ferritin supplements. Though this form is found to be less absorbed compared to heme iron this would be helpful to some extent if taken with the foods that enhance the absorption of iron.
Foods containing nonheme iron are.
- Cereals like rice, wheat, oats
- Dried fruits like raisins and apricots
- Green leafy vegetables
- Drum stick and leaves.
Foods That Help in Absorbing Iron. Inclusion of foods which enhance the absorption of iron is as important as consuming iron rich foods. This is because, the nonheme iron form found in plants is best absorbed when it is consumed with some foods like.
Vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruits (orange, lemon, sweet lemon, guava, gooseberry, etc). These can be consumed even in juice forms. Vitamin C is also found in bell peppers, melons and strawberries.
Beta carotene also supports iron absorption in the body which is found in yellow and orange foods like carrot, mango, papaya, pumpkin, oranges. It is also found in sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots etc. Vitamin A is synthesized in the body from beta carotene.
It is important here to note that, there are some foods to be avoided which inhibit the absorption of iron. Presence of some of the substances in food which hinder iron absorption are
- In some researches it is found that the whole grams, some cereals, legumes contain a substance called phytate which reduces the iron absorption considerably.
- Though calcium is very much necessary for health of bone and teeth, it is also found to reduce the absorption of iron in the body. Usually calcium might be consumed as milk and dairy products. The intake of such products can be avoided with ferritin rich foods.
- Tea, coffee, wine, some fruits, has polyphenols which also act as hindrance in iron absorption.
Ferritin is a stored form of iron which releases iron in emergency situations like iron deficiencies and in maintaining a balance between circulating iron and storage. Hence it is important to maintain the ferritin level as well as iron in the blood. There are many foods which are rich in iron and also improve ferritin level, hence considered as best ferritin supplements. Along with the iron rich foods, the nutrients which enhance the iron absorption are to be included in the diet.
Some people may have very low levels of iron and may be suffering from anemia. In such cases, medical advice is necessary as iron supplementation may be needed in the medicinal form. Oral consumption of iron supplements in the form of pills or any other form must be strictly avoided until advised. Overload of iron can cause serious health issues, hence any supplements must be taken only with medical advice. While the best natural ferritin supplements act as regular healthy foods, any medicinal supplements must be taken as advised.