What is a ferritin test?

A ferritin test measures blood levels of ferritin, a protein that stores iron inside your cells. This test is an indirect way to measure iron levels in your blood.

Why would a doctor order a ferritin test?

A ferritin test is performed if your doctor suspects your iron levels are abnormal. Iron is essential to your body’s normal functioning.

Your body uses iron in metabolic processes (processes that help your body make and use energy). These processes include:

  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis (creating material for new cells in your body)
  • Carrying oxygen in your red blood cells, from your lungs to your body tissues
  • Electron transport within cells (helping cells manage energy)

What symptoms might lead to ferritin testing?

Your doctor is likely to recommend this test if you have symptoms of iron deficiency anemia (low blood iron levels) or even too much iron. Symptoms of having too little iron include:

Symptoms of having too much iron include:

  • Painful joints
  • Heart issues
  • Weight loss
  • Pain in the stomach area
  • Body hair loss
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Tiredness or loss of energy

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/14/2018.


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