Ferritin is a substance that is responsible for storing iron in the human body. A ferritin deficiency therefore means that there is an iron deficiency over a long period of time and therefore the iron stores are used up. Because of this connection, a ferritin deficiency is usually used synonymously with iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia (anemia). However, it can be assumed that a ferritin deficiency causes more severe symptoms than a sole iron deficiency.
Reasons for a ferritin deficiency
The reasons for a ferritin deficiency are manifold. Basically, the origin of a ferritin deficiency lies in a pronounced iron deficiency. This iron deficiency can be caused by an insufficient iron intake.
Alternatively, an increased iron requirement or the loss of blood and iron are the reasons for a ferritin deficiency. Iron is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, a sufficient amount of iron in the diet is important.
Iron is mainly found in red meat, but legumes also contain a lot of iron. In addition, the absorption of iron in the intestines must be guaranteed. This can be disturbed by vitamin deficiency, as the vitamins are needed for the absorption of iron.
An increased iron requirement occurs, for example, in children and young people when they are in a strong growth phase. The need for iron and thus also for ferritin is also increased during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Occasionally, endurance athletes also suffer from a ferritin deficiency due to their increased requirements.
The loss of iron usually occurs via bleeding. This can be chronic bleeding, for example in the gastrointestinal tract. Regular blood loss through menstruation can also be a cause of ferritin deficiency, so women are affected by the disease much more frequently. Large blood losses, such as those that occur in an accident or major surgery, can also be the cause. Occasionally, ferritin deficiency is also caused by a doctor (iatrogenic), for example, newborns and infants who have to be treated in hospital for a long period of time are at risk for ferritin deficiency because blood must often be drawn from them.