High normal Iron/Low Normal Ferritin

Does anyone else have this combination of blood results from an iron panel?

I can hardly find any information about it. My blood serum iron is high and my ferritin low. Still in the normal range, though. My UIBC is below range.

I do smoke, not excessively, but someone has told me that is why, however, I have read a couple instances from people with the same and they don't smoke.

I've never had an iron panel before my Hashimoto's Dx, so I have nothing to compare it to. TIA for any info.


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27 Replies

  • It's common.

    The normal ranges are a joke though for ferritin. Someone with a level of 17 is not going to feel OK. In fact if your ferritin is under 70 you should aim to get it higher.

    Your results also explain why if you have low ferritin and normal haemoglobin you shouldn't take iron supplements at the dose recommended for iron deficiency aneamia as you risk iron overload.

    One issue is some people have normal other measurements on their full bood count (fbc) while others have one or measurements out of range including white cell count and platelets, indicating their ferritin is too low.

    Also because folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies will change the shape or number of red blood cells you need to get those measured at the same time if you are doing a FBC with a check on ferritin levels.

    Finally some people have physical symptoms of iron deficiency if their ferritin levels are below 50. The level this happens at depends on the individual.

    When I get to a laptop I will edit the post to put a link on it.

  • Thank you very much. If it's common, why is their hardly any info of high normal serum iron and low normal ferritin? My ferritin was 34 and my iron 154. Yes, my hemoglobin is normal. My Dr did not recommend I take iron. My FBC is all normal. Nothing sticks out except platelets were at the high end normal. But the range there is fairly small.

    I feel I do have possibly symptoms of iron deficiency but then again, it could just be from thyroid & adrenal, but I don't know. I read somewhere, and I cannot find it at all, that if you are high serum iron but low ferritin, then one should really supplement to get the ferritin up. I'm leery though. Appreciate your info and look forward to that link.

    Thanks again,


  • The reason for the lack of information is most doctors do not understand about nutrient because unless they are personally interested in things like trichology, sports medicine and/or nutrition they just rely on the information they get taught while training which is only treat people outside the range. Their overall understanding only will change, like it did with vitamin D, if there is a high profile legal case where a doctor gets in trouble. Even then there is some doctors like my ex-GP who thinks its all quack science even if someone is showing clear physical symptoms in front of him.

    Anyway the ferritin range starts at around 7, 15 or 20 depending on the lab. This means that anyone at the lower at the range is "normal" according to a lot of medical doctors.

    Sports scientists have realised that women who have low ferritin levels get iron deficiency symptoms

    even through their other iron levels are normal. This means their

    sports performance is diminished and they can't recover. There are studies that state performance improved once the levels were risen to 30, so some GPs will treat you if your ferritin level is below 30 regardless of the lower lab range. (I did read the actual sports science research articles but didn't save the links mainly because I was shocked how few subjects were in their studies.)

    Trichologists who may or may not be medically qualified e.g. a dermatologist know that if your ferritin level is low your hair will fall out. They prefer the level to be higher 70 or 80. If you do a search for some of the well-known trichologists online you will find sites quoting this.

    This is the link (which you can use with your own GP) but notice that they don't state at what level you are considered as having the condition - patient.info/doctor/non-ana...

    If you click through the links they give different levels of when treatment should be considered or state it should be done on symptoms.

    You can buy ferrous fumerate from behind the counter at a pharmacy like Boots, Asda etc. They may ask you why you want it and you just say you have been advised to get it because of your low iron levels. Alternatively you can buy it online via Amazon as some independent pharmacies sell it that way. Either way it costs the same which is currently around £4.25 for 84 tablets.

    The link states take 2 tablets a day but I was told by practitioners who have heard about it to only take 1 a day for 6 months then to have a blood test at the end of it.

  • That site has a plethora of info. Thanks, it's interesting. But it's still not pinpointing high blood serum iron, low IUBC and low ferritin. But there are lots of links there. I'm sure to learn something new.

    I tried NDT but was unsuccessful due to constant dizziness, even on a 1/4 of a 1/2 grain tablet. I'm suspecting this was revealing an issue with my iron and ferritin, but I don't know. The situation did make me examine the issue.

    Thanks again for the link!


  • Hi. Any updates on this? I have the same thing :(

  • Hello again

    The advice from Bluebug is different from what I was told, which was that with ferritin as low as yours and mine are, over the counter medications will not make a significant difference. My GP said we need the higher dose that has to be on prescription - though it wouldn't be the first time she was wrong.

  • Ferrous fumerate and ferrous sulphate can both be brought off prescription in the UK.

    I know because I had to go and buy someone for a relation with a long standing iron deficiency long before she was entitled to free prescriptions.

    You do have to buy them from a pharmacy though simply because they contain between 65-69mg of elemental iron.

    The tablets you buy from health food shops, Superdrugs and Boots in their supplement section have a maximum of around 20mg of elemental iron - normally 14mg.

    I'm surprised your GP didn't realise they were now off prescription as it would say in her BNF. GPs are encouraged to get patients who aren't entitled to free prescriptions to pay for their medication themselves in full as it saves the NHS money.

  • Are you sure Bluebug in the dosage that I needed? You may be right but my GP is very careful indeed with funds and it would not be at all like her to tell me that I had to have it on prescription if there was a way to avoid it.

  • I've already posted the source of the dose above but here it is again - patient.info/doctor/non-ana...

    Secondly you can go into a pharmacy e.g. Boots, local independent pharmacy. Explain to the pharmacist that you are advised by your doctor to rise your iron levels, and you want to know whether ferrous fumerate is cheaper not on prescription. The pharmacist should ask you whether you pay for prescriptions and then give you the appropriate answer.

  • I think we are misunderstanding each other. I know ff is available from pharmacist, my question is what makes you say that the dose available without prescrition is high enough for people like me, since that's the opposite of what my GP said.

    Are you medically qualified or something?

  • On the basis that you can buy two (or more) packets and take two at a time (if that is required to achieve the dose the GP wants you to take), it seems somewhat less than vitally important that there are dose limits on over-the-counter iron supplements.

    [General note: excess iron is very definitely to be avoided.]

  • Well yes, but my dose was far more than double, more like 50 times.

    It worries me when people post such things in case readers having read it don't go to their GP and so don't get a high enough dose and remain ill.

    Perhaps the poster knows something more than I do.

  • What dose do you take?

  • When I was low in iron I was prescribed ferrous fumarate 210mg, 1 tablet to be taken three times a day.

    My doctor was not keen to prescribe because my ferritin was still in range (just). I had never had an iron panel done by my GP, so she was purely going on the ferritin and nothing else.

    Knowing that I probably wouldn't get another prescription I started buying exactly the same product in exactly the same dose and quantities, from pharmacies, without a prescription.

    The suggestions to doctors of what they should prescribe for iron deficiency can be found in the BNF :


    Does this help at all?

  • I too am trying to find some answers for my daughter who has Hashi's and Addison's and only a couple of years ago had low iron and needed supplementation. Now she has normal ferritin, high serum iron and high saturation. She does not take any iron supplements of any kind and has little in the way of red meat - trying to lower her levels. Her last results were:-

    ferritin 138ug/L (30-250)

    iron 32umol/L (8-30)

    transferrin 2.41g/L (2-4)

    saturation 53% (10-35)

    Strangely enough she feels as though she is low on iron and her MCV and MCHC readings are low in range.

    She has methylation issues which means she has trouble detoxing heavy metals and we know she is high in copper as a result. There is some research to show that as the body needs to deal with copper first, iron levels can rise in the process.

    I haven't helped much but am also interested in any ideas to help understand what may be going on. Thank you :)

  • Please start a new thread as per the rules.

  • oops sorry :)

  • It's only so your post can get the attention it deserves.

  • Hello jennygrigg, do you think that since dried aricots and spinach interfere with the body's ability to absorb iron maybe eating plenty might help your daughter?

    Just a thought, a natural idea, but I know little about this and perhaps you need to know why, rather than try this?

  • Hi. Any updates on this? I have the same problem... awaiting some test results...which seem to be taking forever. But in the meantime, I feel so horrible.

  • I also have this combination (Ferritin 45, up from 5 two years ago, and transferrin saturation 56%). I was very hypothyroid when my ferritin was so low, and am thankful to have it increasing since being on natural dessicated thyroid. This combination seems to be more common with untreated or incorrectly treated thyroid issues. I can say from experience, please be careful about supplementing. Everything except my ferritin was in the normal range two years ago before my doctor told me to double my iron supplementation. Now I'm facing iron overload because of it, even though I haven't taken any iron for 5 months. And I'm not allowed to give blood in the United States, where I live, because I grew up in Europe where there is mad cow disease! I'm desperately trying to find a way to get iron out of my system. How to do that without compromising my ferritin level is a mystery to me. Turmeric cream may be something to look into.

  • Wow, when I first read this thread, I was like Oh that sounds just like me. Then I realized, that was my post! LOL Update on that, is that my iron went down, so did ferritin and all the other tests involved. I was told by someone that it's because of smoking. She said smokers have high saturation of iron in the blood. Questionable because I can't find much info on that either.

    But it cannot be the case since I still smoke and the iron dropped. I was told to take Iron Biglycinate (sp?) but it gave me terrible headaches and the Ferritin tabs gave me constipation even though the brand it said it wouldn't. I'd describe it as trying to poop thick mixed concrete on the verge of hardening! Sorry for that description! But I got to feeling like I'm not taking this. So I looked up foods high in iron. (Better than nothing) and the highest was clams. So I started eating clams like twice a week. Spaghetti and clams. Everybody thinks spinach when you think of iron, but it clams by a long shot. Ever notice the content of iron on clams? I was shocked. 35 or 45%. I've never seen that on any food. So I buy frozen and the ingredients: Clams. Not in the can w/all kinds of preservatives. Anyway, I couldn't take the iron and I don't even know what my iron level currently is, but it's been on my mind.

    I also came to find out I have "black urine" disease, Alkaptonuria. This explains years of feeling strangely while trying to eat a "caveman' diet. Too much protein for me. Low and behold, the clams I can eat till the cows come home because they're lowest in tyrosine and phenylalanine. I've had this since I was born yet no doctor ever knew, even though I asked curious questions about dark urine or a dark spot on my eye. How'd I find out? Funny story, but a fox attacked my chicken coop this summer. So I started to pee in a cup and fill a spray bottle to spray human urine around the coop. One days pee would fill the bottle, by night I could spray. Well low and behold, the contents had turned black!! I thought maybe I left chemicals in the spray bottle. Nope. Same thing every time. It was Alkaptonuria. Explained everything once I looked it up. Dark spot on my eye, back, hip, knee pain, and blue/green spots in my ears that every doctor said "that's nothing" The eye doctor said I probably had genetic traces of African American in me even though I'm white. So this just shows how much doctors know. They don't know signs. Rare to find that one doctor that goes "Hmmmm......." and uses intuition and knowledge to dig deeper. Sad.

    And yes, sadly most doctors don't know the hows and whys on iron levels. Just take iron if it's low. Or B12 and Folic Acid. Yep, they're doctors and all they seem to know is the surface of things. So much for 8-12 years of specialty edu.

    Anyway, I eat things higher in iron and that's about it. Unless there's an iron out there that I don't know about and have to find myself because doctors don't know. Something tells me, it's caused by a cycle of something. Who knows. It's not a normal combination or one that doctors can explain, otherwise, if they did, we wouldn't be having this discussion! I thought to see a hematologist until the next test (a year later) showed low everything. Maybe the test was wrong!!!

  • What about Vitamin C? Are you taking that? or eating foods high in it? It can cause iron to go higher. That's why you see it in combination in some tablets, like Fero-Grad C. C helps the absorption. I'd say if you take something w/high Vitamin C, then cut that one out and cut down citrus or other Vit C foods.

  • Haha! Your stories are very entertaining! We have chickens too--perhaps my solution includes peeing in a bottle?! Yes, I'm looking into all my foods and supplements to see how I can lower my iron. I have bad symptoms, including shakiness, sweating, tingling, brain fog, headaches, insomnia, which I had wrongly been attributing to my thyroid. I do believe the combination of these two problems makes my symptoms worse, but I'm now thinking the high iron is the root culprit. Yes, I've been taking 500 mg Vit C every day, and I recently stopped taking calcium, which would have driven my iron up. I also eat fresh ginger every day, which turns out to increase iron absorption. So I'll have to stop that and take some calcium with my iron-containing meals. Thank you for your input.

  • That's it right there. Drop the Vit C completely. You don't need it. It's working 'too good'. Best way to take Calcium is as Cal/Mag in HCL. It's calming. I don't/didn't know calcium increases iron? Tingling and all your symptoms sound like under-medicated thyroid. Do you ever test RT3? Shakiness sounds like blood sugar. I think if you cut the Vit C, you'll feel better. But maybe get a thyroid panel that includes Rt3.

  • Yes, I'm getting the RT3 next week. Had to wait for a script. I order all my other blood work on my own. Calcium lowers iron/interferes with absorption. I meant that stopping the calcium would have driven my iron up. Thank you for your input!

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