Ferritin is a protein your body makes to store iron for later use. For women, the normal range of ferritin in your blood is 11 to 307 Nano grams per milliliter. For men, the normal range is 24 to 336 Nano grams per milliliter.
Higher than normal levels may indicate a number of diseases or conditions, including liver disease and hyperthyroidism. However, there are lifestyles changes you can make that can reduce or eliminate the need to give blood on a regular basis.
Adjusting Your Diet
- Eat plenty of beans and legumes.
Beans and legumes are high in phytates, a micronutrient that inhibits the absorption of iron. Whole grains and seeds also have phytates. Soaking or sprouting your beans before consumption will reduce the phytate levels.
Oxalates, present in many dark, leafy greens such as spinach, also inhibit iron absorption. However, greens such as spinach that have high levels of oxalates also have high levels of iron.
- Choose whole grain over white bread.
Whole-grain bread has higher phytate concentrations than bread made with refined white flour. However, whole grains also contain more minerals, so check the iron content of any bread you buy.
Leavened bread has lower levels of phytates than unleavened bread.
- Have a glass of milk after meals.
Calcium inhibits iron absorption, which can reduce the complications of the excess iron already present in your body. In addition to milk, you might also try yogurt or hard cheese. If you’re lactose-intolerant, drink mineral water infused with calcium during and after meals.
- Drink green tea.
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants that bind to iron and prevent its absorption. Particularly if you plan to eat an iron-rich meal, drinking a cup of green tea while you eat can lessen the effects on your ferritin levels.
Coffee also inhibits iron absorption, if you’re not a fan of tea.
- Snack on nuts and seeds.
Nuts and seeds, including walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts, inhibit your body’s absorption of iron. In addition to a handful of nuts as a snack, you can add nuts to casseroles or put nut butters on sandwiches.
While coconut contains the same inhibitors, they are found in lower concentrations and don’t have a significant effect on your body’s iron absorption.
- Avoid iron supplements.
If you regularly take a multi-vitamin or other supplement, check the label carefully to make sure it does not include iron. The iron included in supplements is formulated to be especially easy for your body to absorb.
Iron-fortified food, such as bread, is also common. Check the nutritional labels on any food you buy and avoid anything with added iron.
- Reduce alcohol intake significantly.
Excessive amounts of alcohol combined with excessive iron can cause extensive damage to your liver. Higher than normal ferritin levels have been linked to alcohol abuse, and may be an early sign of liver disease.
If you do drink alcohol, stick to red wine. It has micronutrients that inhibit iron absorption.
- Start a walking regimen.
Particularly if you are not particularly active, walking can be a good way to get your body moving and build your overall physical strength. Gradually increase your speed as well as the distance or length of time you walk.
Aim to walk at least 30 minutes a day every day, in addition to other physical activities. Escalating your walking to running can cause a greater reduction in ferritin levels.
Warm up your body before any exercise, including something as low-impact as walking. Gentle, dynamic stretching before walking will help prepare your body.
- Add resistance training.
Working out with weights not only increases your overall muscle strength, new research suggests that it can reduce your ferritin levels. Try doing at least 40 minutes of strength training 3 times a week, along with your regular exercise routine.
You may want to start with resistance training if you have a hard time with aerobic exercises, such as walking or running.
If you’re new to weight training, you might want to start out with a trainer or experienced lifter so they can check your form and make sure you has proper form and that you’re using equipment correctly.