What foods should I consume/avoid to raise my ferritin level?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 10, 2012 at 6:24 PM

After seeing the doctor last week, I apparently have an abysmally low ferritin level (12). It should be between 40 and 200 (according to my doctor; 100 is ideal.) My hemoglobin is fine.

So my question is what foods should I eat in order to raise that level? What foods should I combine, and which should I avoid for optimal iron absorption?

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on June 11, 2012
at 09:53 AM

Eating Paleo is a great way to improve your ferritin levels and iron-deficiency anemia!

increases the absorption of iron:

  • choosing the heme form, which is found in animal products
  • combining your iron with Vitamin C

decreases the absorption of iron:

  • taking tea of coffee 1 hour before and up to 2 hours after your meals to prevent inhibiting the absorption of iron-
  • calcium supplements and other minerals in large amounts-
  • phytates from grains and nuts

extra tip: try to eat liver (the best source of iron) 2-3 times a week to increase your ferritin levels!



on June 10, 2012
at 06:32 PM

Red meat has lots of heme iron, and from what I've read, taking Vitamin C with iron rich foods makes the iron more readily absorbed.



on June 11, 2012
at 02:11 PM

As some others have pointed out, coffee inhibits iron absorption and Vit C increases it. AFAIK, calcium doesn't inhibit it, but offsets it in a way. Controlling calcium and iron are major tenants of Peat. You might want to look into his thoughts on the subject. dannyroddy.com is a good starting place.


on June 11, 2012
at 09:59 AM

I started my Paleo journey with a Ferritin level of 7, have been eating strictly Paleo for 4 months and my count has more than tripled. Forget the supplements, eat more red meat and vegetables, lots of Green leafy veg.



on June 10, 2012
at 06:35 PM

I've heard calcium inhibits iron absorption and vitamin C helps it, so keep semi-kosher and separate dairy (if you consume) and meat (haha)?

Anyways... clams, oysters, liver/offal, meat, spinach, other dark leafy greens I'm assuming.

Watch out for super-powered iron supplements though. Most of them have waaay too much and lead to constipation and other less-than-pleasant side effects.

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