One of the blood tests that you should run when you’re thinking of getting pregnant is ferritin.
What is ferritin?
Ferritin is a reflection of the iron levels that you have stored in your body.
What does having low ferritin mean?
If you have low ferritin levels, it can indicate that you have an iron deficiency. This can become a problem when your iron levels are TOO low and it will eventually cause you to have iron deficiency anemia.
What causes low ferritin levels?
- Inadequate iron intake from your diet due to eating a poor diet or having a super restrictive diet that contains minimal dietary iron sources
- Inflammatory bowel disease ie. Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- During pregnancy
- Internal bleeding
What happens when your ferritin levels are too low?
Hemoglobin (Hb) is a protein in your red blood cells that work to carry oxygen from your lungs to every cell in your body and exchanges for carbon dioxide from your cells to bring back to your lungs to get rid of it. Hb needs iron in order to do its job properly. If you have low iron levels, every cell in your body doesn’t have enough Hb to meet its demands for oxygen!
How does your body tell you that something’s wrong with your iron levels?
Here are the most common symptoms of low iron/ferritin levels:
- You’re unusually tired
- You’re more anxious
- You may experience pica, which are strange cravings for ice, dirt, chalk or paper
- You may be more prone to getting sick because a healthy immune system needs iron
- You’re light-headed or dizzy
- You may experience headaches
- You may become swollen and sore
- You’re more pale than normal
- Your hair is dry and damaged, and falling out more than normal
- You may have brittle or spoon-shaped fingernails
- You experience heart palpitations where you feel like your heart is racing
- You experience shortness of breath
- You have cold hands and feet
- You have restless legs that are worse at night and negatively impact your ability to have a good night’s sleep
What should you do if you have low ferritin levels?
Talk to your MD or ND to discuss your options
Additional Blood Work
If you have low ferritin levels, you should ask your MD or ND to run a CBC and a full iron panel to see if you also have low iron levels and if it’s affecting your hemoglobin.
Incorporate more foods that contain higher amounts of iron into your diet
Meat: red meat, chicken, fish, pork, sardines, shellfish and turkey
Vegetables: beans, broccoli, dark leafy greens, kale, legumes, peas and spinach
Nuts & Seeds: cashews, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
Grains: quinoa and wheat germ
Other Foods: dark chocolate and tofu
Eat more foods that contain vitamin C because it increases your absorption of iron. These foods include: black currants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, guava, kale, kiwi, lemons, lychee, oranges, papaya, parsley, persimmons, potatoes, red peppers, strawberries, thyme, tomatoes and yellow peppers
Iron Supplement IF Recommended by your MD or ND
Make sure that you know exactly what your ferritin and iron levels are BEFORE you start taking a supplement. And always re-test your blood levels periodically in order to determine when you can come off the supplement.
Why is ferritin important when trying to get pregnant?
Here’s a fun biology fact for you! Did you know that the average non-pregnant woman has about 2.6 L of blood in her body at any given moment in time? If this woman were to get pregnant and have normal sized fetus, she would need to increase her blood volume by 1.25 L!
That’s a whole lot of extra blood that a pregnant woman has in her body! The reason for this big jump in blood volume is to provide more nutrients and oxygen to the fetus through the placenta.
For this reason, pregnant women are very prone to becoming or being iron deficient. The best thing to do is to make sure that your iron levels are up to snuff and well into the normal range in order to prevent iron deficiency during your pregnancy as much as possible. The last thing you want to do when you’re pregnant is to be even more tired than you’re going to be because of low iron levels.
If you’d like to sit down with me to discuss all of the blood tests that you should ask for when you’re preparing to get pregnant, CONTACT ME HERE to set up a complimentary 15 min discovery call/meeting and we can get started.
What’s a discovery call/meeting? It’s where we get to know each other better to ensure that I’m the right practitioner for you and that you have the opportunity to ask your questions about Naturopathic Medicine before we move forward with an initial Naturopathic consultation.
Here are a few more posts on pregnancy or kids’ health that you might also be interested in:
- Pregnancy Care
- BPA & Children
- What Can or Can’t You Eat When You’re Pregnant?
- Change the Way You Talk to Little Girls
- Informative Website for Breastfeeding Moms
- Weight Gain During Pregnancy
- Trying to get pregnant? Test your ferritin levels!
- Top 10 Things to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
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