Blood test

Low ferritin level in the blood

Blood test
Low ferritin level in the blood
Last update: 20/04/2020

What is low ferritin level in the blood called?

  • Hypoferritinemia

What is the normal ferritin level in the blood?

If you need to know which are the ferritin reference ranges or you require more information about the role of ferritin in the blood you can visit: Normal ferritin level in the blood

What does a low ferritin level in the blood mean?

A low ferritin level in the blood is a sign that the iron storage in the body is very low. If there is not enough iron in the body, the formation of the red blood cells will be compromised. The red blood cells are essential for the transportation of oxygen to the cells.

A low level of ferritin in the body can be due to:

  • Not enough intake of iron in the diet
  • Malabsorption of iron
  • Excessive loss of iron

If there is not enough iron in the body, you can suffer from fatigue, headache, cold hands and feet or brittle nails. Ferritin blood values are usually given in ng/ml but sometimes you can see these values in µg/L following the International System of Units (SI). Numeric values are similar in ng/ml or in µg/L

  • Mild hypoferretinemia (8 - 12 ng/ml in women, 8 - 20 ng/ml in men):

    Ferritin values are a bit low and the reserves of iron are limited.

    You must talk to your doctor in case the hemoglobin or the hematocrit is also low because you can fall into iron-deficiency anemia.

    It can be due to a deficit of iron in your diet (for example, in a vegetarian diet), a malabsorption of iron (Crohn’s disease or celiac disease) or excessive loss of iron (menstruation, excessive bleeding).

  • Marked hypoferretinemia (< 8 ng/ml in adults):

    Marked hypoferretinemia may be a sign of iron-deficiency anemia. The formation of red blood cells will not be optimal. You can feel fatigue or headache.

    You must visit your doctor and, if he considers it appropriate, he will give you iron supplements to increase iron level in the blood.

Which factors can reduce the ferritin level in the blood?

There are some circumstances than can reduce your ferritin level in the blood:

  • Blood donation
  • Pregnancy
  • Hemodialysis
  • Menstruation
  • Drugs
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Which diseases can reduce your ferritin level in the blood?

Lower than normal level of iron in the blood can be due to the following diseases:

  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • Gastroduodenal ulcer
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Gastric cancer
  • Colorectal cancer

What can I do to increase the ferritin level in the blood?

If you want to increase your ferritin level in the blood, you can try the following tips:

  • Increase your intake of food rich in iron such as red meat or seafood. If you are vegetarian, you can find iron in the legumes, nuts or spinach. There are also cereals fortified with iron.
  • If your doctor considers it appropriate, you can take iron supplements.

Where can I find more information about ferritin level in the blood?

You can visit our pages about:

Which values are considered a low ferritin level in the blood?

The following values are considered to be below the normal range:

IMPORTANT: These levels are expressed in ng/dL. They are an example of a healthy woman of about 35 years old, not on menopause, with a balanced diet, not known disease and not taking any medication. The ranges can be different depending on the laboratory or on your personal circumstances.

Moderate hypoferretinemia
11 ng/ml10 ng/ml9 ng/ml8 ng/ml    
Marked hypoferretinemia
7 ng/ml6 ng/ml5 ng/ml4 ng/ml3 ng/ml2 ng/ml1 ng/ml0 ng/ml
Medically reviewed by Dr. Javier Muga Bustamante on 20/04/2020


  • Tietz. Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry. Carl A. Burtis, Edward R. Ashwood, David E. Bruns, Barbara G. Sawyer. WB Saunders Company, 2008. Pag 520. ISBN: 978-0-7216-3865-2.
  • Laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures with nursing diagnoses (8th ed), Jane Vincent Corbett, Angela Denise Banks, ISBN: 978-0-13-237332-6, Pag. 39.

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