Thyroid UK

ferritin - iron?

I have been wondering something for years:

My doctor (a so called "Hertoghe doctor") only tests ferritine levels, never iron levels. I was diagnosed with iron deficiency in 2011, and put on prescription drug Losferron. I cannot say it has done much for me. Last year, my ferritin levels were 83 ug/L (ref range 18-170, 50-170 optimal according to lab sheet). In February of this year, my levels had decreased further, to 67. I was told to continue taking Losferron and eat more red meat.

My first question: is it enough to measure ferritin levels, not iron levels?

Second question: can someone recommend a really good iron supplement? There are literally thousands out there, but I have no idea which ones are working.

Please, just don't tell me to eat liver, because that will never, ever happen...!

One interesting thing is that, about six months ago, my periods stopped quite unexpectedly. I had them one month, then nothing the next. At 46, it was perhaps a bit unexpected, but not completely unheard of, and I just thought: "Good riddance". I also hoped it would bring my iron levels up, as I have always had heavy periods.

Then, in February, my FSH levels were 1.3 IU/L, and according to doctor, it should be >30 in menopausal women. According to her, nothing in my labs indicated I was menopausal, or even peri-menopausal. Yet, my periods just stopped. Since my gynecologist did not find anything unusual, I just decided to accept it and be happy my periods seemed to be a thing of the past.

A few months ago, I managed to wean off Medrol, after more than four years on it (diagnosed with adrenal fatigue in late 2011). After two months off Medrol, my periods came back, and are now regular once again. The other day, I read that long-term use of Medrol can cause cessation of menstruation...

So, now that my periods are back (at least for now), I feel I need to get my iron levels up. Strangely enough, they were even lower this year than last year, although I still had my periods last year, but had not had them for a few months when I had labs done in February...anyway, I know I need to get iron levels up, and Losferron does not seem to help.

1 Reply

Whether ferritin is sufficient to diagnose iron deficiency is debatable. If you are tending towards classical iron deficiency, then (usually) as long as ferritin is at a reasonable level then serum iron and other iron measures generally tend to be okay, and haemoglobin, haematocrit, red blood cell count and maybe a few other things are usually at a reasonable level too. But once ferritin drops very low then other things will start to be too low or too high as well.

But there are exceptions to everything. If you want a more complete set of things which can show different kinds of anaemia, see this link, read the whole page, and look at the table at the bottom :

Be aware that people can have more than one kind of anaemia. For example, if you have iron deficiency anaemia this would tend to show in low ferritin. If you also had anaemia of chronic disease this would show in raised ferritin. If you have both, then you could magically have normal ferritin disguising the fact that you are anaemic at all. So measuring some other things could give you more information and help you to decide what exactly is the problem (if there is one to find).


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