What does a ferritin level of 12 mean? Are there any symptoms associated with this level?
A ferritin level of 12 ng/mL is considered low. Ferritin
is a protein in your blood that stores iron; therefore, low ferritin levels may indicate iron deficiency and can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia is a condition where you have too few red blood cells, which can hinder sports performance, cognition, immunity, and more.
Symptoms associated with low ferritin include shortness of breath, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, increased hair shedding, and heart palpitations. If you have iron deficiency anemia related to low ferritin, you may also experience chest pain, fast heartbeat, pale skin, cold hands and feet, brittle nails, or a sore or inflamed tongue.
Learn more about what ferritin is
and the recommended range for ferritin levels.
Factors that could contribute to a ferritin level of 12
Your ferritin level can be impacted by numerous factors, including [1
Diet: Diets low in iron put you at greater risk of having low ferritin levels. People who don't eat meat may have a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia if they don't get enough dietary iron from other sources.
Your ability to absorb iron: Intestinal surgeries and disorders, like celiac disease, can reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron from digested food, leading to low ferritin levels and possibly iron-deficiency anemia.
Heavy menstruation: Heavy menstrual bleeding increases your body’s iron needs and can lower ferritin levels.
Heavy athletic training: Intense physical training may increase your body’s iron needs, which might lead to a drop in ferritin.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy increases iron needs which can reduce ferritin levels.
GI conditions and diseases: Certain GI diseases and conditions can decrease iron absorption and cause lower ferritin levels, including ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, colon cancer, and peptic ulcers.
What to do if your ferritin level is 12?
Medications and supplements used to improve ferritin levels
If you have severe anemia in addition to low ferritin, your doctor may recommend intravenous iron to quickly increase your iron levels and help replenish iron stores.
If you have low ferritin, oral iron supplements
can help increase your iron stores and improve your ferritin levels. They should be taken under a doctor or dietitian’s supervision, as iron dosages, tolerance, and effectiveness can vary from person to person, and too much iron can lead to iron toxicity.
The most common iron supplements include [6
Ferrous iron supplements tend to be better tolerated and more cost-effective than ferric iron [7
]. Speak with a healthcare professional to decide which form of iron will best fit your needs and minimize any side effects.
How Elo can help
If you want to increase your ferritin levels but are unsure about what type or how much iron you should take, you may want to give Elo Health
a try. Elo provides curated nutrition recommendations based on your biomarker scores to create personalized supplements that fit your needs. You also get 1:1 dietitian coaching to further help you reach your health goals. Learn more about how we can help you increase your ferritin level and optimize your nutrition here