This blood test for post-menopausal women may be unfamiliar to you. Your doctor may have never have ordered it or probably ignored it.
Vital Blood Test for Post-Menopausal Women
Ferritin measures the amount of iron stored in the body outside of the red blood cells. Women with no menstrual cycles can accumulate iron in joints, veins, the heart, pancreas and liver. This can cause joint pain, diabetes, hypertension, strokes, hypothyroidism, hair loss, weight gain/weight loss, cardiovascular irregularities and much more.
Beginning 5 years after menopause, women should test Ferritin annually. I have seen Ferritin creep up 15 points a year until suddenly it’s over 300 or 500, especially by age 65.
Women who suppress their periods for years can also accumulate excess iron and should test Ferritin.
We evolved to store iron for future need but we live longer now and accumulate more than we’ll ever need
What About Heavy Periods?
If you have or had heavy periods, your Ferritin may show you have iron anemia. If you had a hysterectomy for heavy Fibroid bleeding, your Ferritin may stay in a safe range for a while. But it WILL accumulate once periods stop.
The Ideal Lab Range for Ferritin
I’m a Clinical Nutritionist. We specialize in the body’s chemistry, how systems work, communicate, detox and repair. I use narrow lab ranges, not “average” lab ranges that doctors usually use, as a guide to health status in my Consults.
This is especially true for the FERRITIN blood test
Most labs put Ferritin normal at 15 to 300. I feel 40 to 70 is ideal.
Your doctor may disagree with me but study this article on Iron Overload and make your own choice. It will not harm you to donate blood and reduce Ferritin to 70 or even 100.
Your doctor may say a lab result of 300, 400 or even 500 is acceptable. It’s not! Those of us with Hemochromatosis will confirm Iron can be fatal…
Ferritin Blood Test for Post-Menopausal Women
Ask your doctor to test Ferritin annually. Many will not, claiming it is not “medically necessary”.
But if you have joint pain, hypertension, pre-diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, cardiac irregularities (even mild ones), immune issues, abdominal pain or are over age 60, you should insist on testing it every year. It’s not expensive. Or, order it on your own (see next section)…
This website has much more on testing, and on donating blood to reduce iron stores. This important article tells how to distinguish high Ferritin from Iron Overload from Ferritin due to an inflammatory or autoimmune disorder. Very important!
Order Your Own Labs – It’s Easy
The faster and often cheaper way to get lab work you want is to order and pay for it yourself from Life Extension. These two tests are only $21 each: test for Ferritin and Iron Saturation %, another key number to keep under control by donating blood.
Order any labs you like from Life Extension. I’ve sent clients to them for decades and it’s faster than waiting for a doctor appointment. If you don’t have insurance, or it won’t pay for the tests you want, check prices on this and other consumer direct labs.
Should Men or Post-Menopausal Women Ever Take Iron?
No. Not unless anemic as a result of illness or accident. If anemia is diagnosed with no known cause, your doctor must test to find the cause. Ulcers, cancer, kidney or liver disease, autoimmune, malabsorption, heavy athletics and gene mutations can all cause anemia.
Men should never take iron unless they are elite athletes and are tracking their Ferritin.
What Foods Affect Iron Storage?
Most foods have iron. There are two types: heme and non-heme. Plants are non-heme (nuts, vegetables, fortified grains). Animals have both heme and non-heme. Many processed foods have non-heme iron added (breakfast cereals, etc.). Read labels!
Heme iron from animal sources is more bioavailable, especially in the presence of Vitamin C supplements or fruit juices. This website has more on heme vs. non-heme foods.
Phytates in grains and beans reduce absorption of many minerals, including iron, zinc and calcium. Vegetarians can get anemic and must guard against bone loss due to phytates.
Clams, oysters, chocolate, liver, tofu, spinach, beef, beans and lentils have abundant iron according to this article from the NIH. Cooking in an iron skillet is not recommended. You can’t avoid consuming iron, but you can donate blood!
Gastric surgery, antacids and proton pump inhibitors can prevent absorption of many minerals, including iron. Ferritin is a good test for this population too!
Summary: Ferritin Testing and Treatment
- This article is not about Hereditary Hemochromatosis but about age-related Iron Overload. They are different, but the solution is the same.
- Test Ferritin annually after age 60
- Order your own Ferritin and Iron Saturation
- Donate blood to get Ferritin down to 50 – 75. Note that each blood donation can reduce Ferritin as much as 100 points.
- This potent Curcumin/Turmeric helps block Iron absorption
- Post-menopausal women and all adult males except elite athletes should avoid Iron supplements in vitamins and fortified foods unless prescribed by their doctor
- Avoid iron cookware. Don’t take Vitamin C foods or supplements with food