It’s important to speak with your doctor if your ferritin is high. Your doctor should diagnose and treat any underlying conditions causing your high ferritin levels.
You may try the additional strategies listed below if you and your doctor determine that they could be appropriate for lowering your iron naturally and quickly. Discuss the strategies listed here with your doctor. Remember that none of them should ever be done in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.
Hemochromatosis Diet (Foods Low in Iron)
Hemochromatosis is a common cause of high ferritin. People with this condition absorb too much iron from food, which excessively raises blood iron levels.
Generally, the optimal diet for people with hemochromatosis is low in iron.
Additionally, various factors can affect the amount of iron people absorb, such as:
- Dietary iron forms: heme (from meat, poultry, and fish) vs. non-heme (mostly from plants) iron. Hem iron is absorbed better.
- Stomach acid and vitamin C, which increase non-heme iron absorption.
- Phytic acid and polyphenols (in vegetables), which reduce non-heme absorption.
Having these factors in mind, in addition to lowering the intake of iron-rich foods, additionally affects iron balance and absorption in the body.
For example, you can and should still eat green, leafy vegetables, as they only contain non-heme iron. This type of iron is much harder to absorb.
Many fresh vegetables also contain polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and lower iron absorption.
You can also consume more legumes and grains, which contain compounds that reduce iron absorption (phytic acid). The ways in which you may modify a healthy hemochromatosis diet is explained in more detail below.
Green Tea & Coffee
Both tea and coffee contain tannins and polyphenols, which inhibit the absorption of iron. However, tea does not seem to impact ferritin levels in healthy adults. It may only lower ferritin in those with iron deficiency or iron overload.
Ferritin concentrations were not related to black, green, or herbal tea consumption in healthy adults. However, ferritin displayed a negative correlation with the consumption of tea in the elderly.
Tea consumption was associated with lower ferritin in groups with a high prevalence of iron deficiency. In those at risk for iron overload, tea consumption may lower ferritin concentrations.
EGCG found in tea markedly inhibits intestinal heme iron absorption (by reducing iron export in Caco-2 cells). Additionally, coffee interferes with the utilization of supplemental iron. Pregnant women with a high frequency of coffee consumption had lower values of body iron.
Ferritin increases acutely immediately after exercise but returns to baseline a few hours later. On the other hand, long-term, routine exercise lowers ferritin along with other acute phase reactants.
Regular physical activity, especially extensive running, increases iron loss. Mild iron deficiency (abnormal blood ferritin and normal hemoglobin concentration) and sometimes true iron deficiency anemia can occur, especially when nutritional iron intake is insufficient and iron demand is increased because of growth (children, adolescents) or additional iron loss (by menstruation).
Iron deficiency is common in athletes involved in endurance sports. In female marathon runners, the prevalence is as high as 28%, compared to 11% in the general female population.
Endurance athletes need more iron because their training causes an expansion in the number of red blood cells. This means that their hemoglobin levels may seem normal but their ferritin levels (a marker of the iron reserves stored in the body) may be low.
Low ferritin with hemoglobin in the mid-to-upper normal range and low ferritin with hemoglobin in the low normal range are relative indications for iron supplementation in athletes.
Calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, may decrease the absorption of iron.
Ferritin levels were negatively associated with the amount of cow’s milk consumed and calcium intake in 18-month old children.
Pregnant women who had consumed cow’s milk at least 3 times a week had lower levels of ferritin and body iron.A diet rich in milk and yogurt increased the risk of low iron status by 50% in women in New Zealand.
However, although some short-term effects have been observed, long-term calcium supplementation was not observed to negatively impact iron status and ferritin concentration.