blood and iron: how to optimize iron levels

This article adds to the discussion of my previous articles on iron and how its accumulation drives aging and disease. Please see them for fuller explanations of the physiology of iron and the implications of iron overload. The articles so far have been:

Iron accelerates aging

Iron the primary driver of aging?

Eugene D. Weinberg on iron toxicity

Excess iron promotes obesity?

Iron and the brain: iron’s crucial role in aging

This article shows how blood donation, phytochemicals, and diet affect iron levels. Please be aware that this article is for informational purposes only, and is not medical advice. If you have concerns about your iron levels, see your doctor. Please read our disclaimer.

1. Ferritin and hemoglobin tests

Ferritin is a protein that cells make in order to sequester and store iron.

Free iron, that is, iron that is unattached to any other chemical moiety, can catalyze dangerous chemical reactions that damage cell structures. The body therefore strives to keep free iron under control by attaching it to ferritin. While the correlation between excess body stores of iron and ferritin levels is not perfect, in most cases the result is close.

The major storage site of iron in the human body is not ferritin, however, it is hemoglobin, which is the oxygen-transporting molecule of red blood cells. Around 80% or so of total body iron is found in hemoglobin.

The difference between hemoglobin and ferritin when it comes to iron storage is that hemoglobin levels are, in most cases, kept within a narrow range. Exceptions: in anemia, not enough hemoglobin is made, iron deficiency anemia being the most common form. In polycythemia, too many red cells are made and thus there’s too much hemoglobin. Therefore, for anyone without these conditions, the amount of iron stored in hemoglobin is roughly the same for everyone, the main variations depending on male vs female (male hemoglobin levels are higher) and body size.

In contrast, ferritin levels can rise without limit.

Unless a doctor suspects either hemochromatosis (hereditary iron overload) or iron deficiency anemia, he or she is unlikely to order a ferritin test, so one would have to ask for it.

The result of a ferritin test will be accompanied by a laboratory normal range, also called reference range or normal values. This is the range of values for a test that the laboratory has determined that 95% of all apparently healthy people will have. For example, the Mayo Clinic has determined that, for men, the ferritin reference range is 24 to 336 ng/ml, and for women, 11 to 307.   Values below that level are deemed iron deficient, above it, iron overload.

There’s considerable evidence that there can be adverse effects of high ferritin even within the reference range. If a ferritin is, say, 250, a doctor will most likely do nothing, since it’s within the reference range. Evidence shows, however, that 250 may be too high; ferritin above a minimum amount causes damage, and the relation is linear with no threshold. In other words, any level of ferritin above what is necessary to prevent iron deficiency appears to be enough to cause damage and accelerate aging. (1.)

These results suggest no threshold and are consistent with a study of vascular function where when two groups, both with low ferritin levels (52 vs. 17), were compared, flow mediated vascular dilation was significantly greater in the very low ferritin group. It is also consistent with the study described above where ferritin levels correlated with oxidative stress and insulin resistance with no apparent threshold.

So, the published reference ranges for ferritin appear to be wanting, with the upper range of normal possibly too high. It appears that getting ferritin as low as possible without causing iron deficiency may be beneficial for health.

The reference cited above argues for a reference range of 50 to 70 for men, and 20 to 40 for women.

There are a few reports of iron deficiency without anemia at a ferritin of about 50. (2) What happens is that iron stores are not low enough to cause anemia, but low enough to interfere with other physiological processes, causing fatigue and exercise intolerance. Most commentators on this topic do not appear to consider a ferritin of 50 to be a sign of iron deficiency, however.


In most cases, apparently healthy people have a normal hemoglobin level, but sometimes people have low hemoglobin without knowing it, and this indicates anemia.

Before a blood donation, the blood bank tests for hemoglobin, and will not allow a donation if it’s too low.

In the course of an annual physical or checkup, doctors often order a CBC (complete blood count), and hemoglobin is part of this test.

While the blood bank will prevent people from donating if their hemoglobin is low, many supplements (discussed below) are iron chelators, so knowledge of the hemoglobin level can be useful even putting blood donation to the side.


2. Blood donation

Blood donation is the quickest and surest method of lowering ferritin levels, since 80% or so of body iron stores are found in red blood cells.

Total body iron for an adult man is about 3 to 4 grams, and one blood donation of 450 ml (may be 500 ml outside the U.S.) represents 200 to 250 milligrams of iron.

After the blood donation, red blood cell production in the body ramps up from baseline in order to make up for the lost cells. To do this, more hemoglobin needs to be made, and the iron which goes into hemoglobin is taken from body iron stores. Hence, donating blood lowers iron.

After a donation, it may take several weeks to up to two months for the body to manufacture enough red cells to bring their level back to normal. Recovery of blood volume, however, is much faster, perhaps as little as 24 hours.

The American Red Cross recommends avoiding heavy lifting or vigorous exercise on the day of the donation, and avoiding alcohol for 24 hours. One shouldn’t expect to be setting any personal records in the gym in the days following a blood donation.

A rule of thumb for ferritin lowering via blood donation is that each donation lowers ferritin by 30 points. If someone has a high ferritin level, say over 200, it will take several donations to get down to a level below 100.

ferritin blood donors

The table above was taken from reference 1, and shows average ferritin levels in men in blood donors vs non-donors. It can be seen that even two donations a year causes a large decline in ferritin, and that there are diminishing returns to more donations. The reason for the diminishing returns is that, once ferritin levels decline, the body decreases the level of the hormone hepcidin, which causes an increase in iron absorption from food. In effect, one must pedal faster to stay in the same place.

Fertile (pre-menopausal) women have average ferritin levels of around 35 ng/ml, and they have far lower rates of disease than men the same age. Their blood loss from the menstrual cycle is on average 35 ml a month, or 420 ml a year.

Therefore, one blood donation is about the equivalent of a fertile woman’s annual menstrual blood loss. Once ferritin levels are in the lower end of the range, one donation a year may be enough to keep them there.

3. Iron chelation

The American Red Cross estimates that only 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood. (3) While that figure is probably concentrated among the very young and the elderly, plenty of young or middle-aged men are probably unable to donate blood.

Iron chelators, which are natural or synthetic chemicals that are ingested orally or given intravenously, attach to free iron in the body and remove it.

Prescription chelators are out, since they have side effects, and unless someone has demonstrated iron overload, meaning a ferritin well above the upper limit of the normal range, a doctor is unlikely to prescribe them.

A number of non-prescription chelators exist however. As noted in some of the previous articles in this series, many of the polyphenols and other phytochemicals that have been shown to have health benefits also chelate iron. This is not a coincidence.

The following supplements chelate iron:

  • curcumin
  • quercetin
  • green tea polyphenols
  • IP6 (inositol hexaphosphate)

It’s difficult to get quality data as to how effective these chelators are, since in most cases no controlled human studies have been done. Nor are they ever likely to be done, since no one stands to make money off of these, as they’re all relatively cheap OTC supplements.

One study (cited in reference 1) found that in diabetics, “a polyphenol–enriched, low-iron carbohydrate-restricted diet over 4 years” dropped average ferritin levels from 325 to 53. So it certainly appears that polyphenols, along with a low-iron diet, can lower ferritin. I’ve seen anecdotal reports on the web of people claiming that they dropped their ferritin 100 points using chelators such as IP6, but as I said, I haven’t seen any controlled studies, so take that with a grain of salt.

As for dosages, there are none other than the label recommendations. My bottle of curcumin, for instance, states that one can take up to 1500 mg, or three capsules, daily, in divided doses.

It’s possible to attain a state of iron deficiency with the use of chelators, and iron deficiency is very much to be avoided. Children and adolescents should avoid chelators unless under a doctor’s advice, since growing bodies need iron and iron deficiency can literally stunt their growth, and cause a host of other problems.

Some iron chelators have the ability to chelate other metals besides iron. Generally one would not want to chelate zinc or magnesium and probably others, and iron chelators may have the ability to cause deficiencies in these other metals.

4. Hindering iron absorption from food

Iron absorption from food can be hindered by the use of various chelators or by the choice of low-iron foods.

Here we should note the difference between free iron and heme iron in food. Free iron is found in plant foods as well as foods that are fortified with iron. Unfortunately, in the U.S., all flour, corn meal, and rice is required by law to have added iron.

Heme iron is that which is found in meat. Red meat (beef and pork) has more iron than chicken or fish.

Heme iron is very readily absorbed from the intestinal tract. The absorption of free iron can be lowered through the use of coffee, tea, red wine, or any of the iron-chelating supplements listed above.

Coffee and tea (black or green) greatly hinder free iron absorption, and red wine does as well, although perhaps less so. The key here is that they must be drunk with the meal.

Avoiding iron-fortified flour, corn meal, and rice would mean less (free) iron in the diet, hence less absorbed.

As for hindering the absorption of heme iron, the only choice that exists is avoiding foods that contain it, mainly red meat.


Published reference ranges for ferritin may have upper limits that are too high for optimal health. Even within the reference range, lower ferritin values generally associate with better markers of health than higher.

Unfortunately, mainstream medicine isn’t going to tell you this. There’s no money to be made by pharmaceutical companies in it, and most doctors are too constrained by the reality of acute care medicine to either know or care much about it.




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  1. John Morris says:

    Hi P.D,

    I recently read that resveratrol also chelates iron. Do you know if this correct and do you have a view on it’s efficacy compared to Curcumin or Quercetin?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      I haven’t seen that resveratrol chelates iron. What I have read is that by up-regulating levels of the Nrf2 system, ferritin is increased. This means that free iron, the really nasty kind, is brought under control. This seems to be a feature of almost any hormetic agent: increased Nrf2 with increased so-called acute phase enzymes, of which ferritin is one. As for quercetin vs curcumin, I’ve seen the word “potent” applied to quercetin, not a very scientific term, but it’s all I’ve got. Curcumin on the other hand got mice into complete iron deficiency after several months when they were given a continuous supply in their food.

  2. Philomathean says:

    Giving blood twice a year seems like the best way to lower iron. Do you agree?

  3. ck says:

    Do you deem cast-iron cookware safe? If not, what type of cookware would you recommend?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Apparently the amount of iron added to food from a cast-iron pan isn’t negligible, it’s around a couple milligrams. So while not exactly toxic, it might be worthwhile to avoid these if you’re trying to minimize iron. As for alternatives, I believe Teflon is fine if the surface is in good condition.

  4. Shaq says:

    So, theoretically, a “traditional” Japanese diet that included fish, vegetables, and green tea (among other items) would be a low iron diet, hence longer life expectancy, lower rates of diabetes, etc. Which I believe is the empirical evidence, although I haven’t looked at the data in a long time.

  5. Rob H says:

    I sprinkle some curcumin on my lunch most days (even works with oat bran, berries, cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin seeds with breakfast!). Not sure how much of an effect this would have on reducing my iron levels though.. I was recently told that the most concentrated source of quercetin is capers, so I might try adding in some of those to my lunch. Anyone else know a good source of quercetin? Hopefully the daily curcumin + quercetin will have some sort of low-level ‘chronic’ effect..

  6. Alec says:

    In 2012 I had ferritin levels of 1500 ng/ml. I was negative for the hemochromatosis genes, and the doctors dithered. I started giving blood almost every two months. About a year and a have later ferritin was down to 388, and by last April it was down to 186. I initially went to the doctor to get my T levels checked because I was having a terrible time recovering from moderate weight training. Thanks to your weight lifting book I just started going back to the gym and recovery has been much, much better.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Alec, that’s very interesting. I wonder how you got such high ferritin levels, especially without the hemochromatosis gene. My understanding is that doctors will initiate therapeutic phlebotomy at a ferritin above 1,000. I guess your ferritin level is something you’ll need to watch for the rest of your life. It makes sense that your recovery would be better after getting your iron down. Glad to hear of your success.

    • Alec says:

      This might be an interesting area to study: back then, dentist complained about the state of my gums. Now, dentist complains that he has nothing to do.

      • P. D. Mangan says:

        Yes, very interesting, not surprising either. You may have had massive oxidative stress and inflammation in your gums from all that iron.

    • Alec says:

      Just to follow up, ferritin is now at 105. Making progress at the gym. Gave blood today and they were very appreciative ahead of New Year’s Eve.

      • P. D. Mangan says:

        That’s good to hear, you’ve come a long way haven’t you? Is your doctor just observing as you continue to donate and satisfied with your progress?

        One of the things that advocates of low carb / ketogenic diets for athletes say is that these diets result in less oxidation than high carb while working out, hence they may aid recovery better. Since your story came up, I wonder whether iron wouldn’t be a lot more important in that regard, since it’s a very active metal causing formation of free radicals.

        • Alec says:

          The last decent doctor I had went concierge several years ago. Since then I haven’t found one who was any better than a pharmaceutical rep. I got the most recent labs ordered through DirectLabs.

          I eat fairly primal/paleo, but low carb hasn’t done me much good in a while (possibly confounded by the iron). I’ll probably try it again soon.

  7. Daniel F says:

    “After a donation, it may take several weeks to up to two months for the body to manufacture enough red cells to bring their level back to normal.”

    Dennis, great posts on iron. Thank you.

    Am I reading this post, and the above quote in particular, to imply that a serum ferritin test result will “lag” if one has recently given blood? I.e. The iron test is for ferritin but the effect of a phlebotomy will not pick up the relevant decrease until the red blood cells have used up some of the iron. In other words, say yesterday I gave blood, and a day later my test says 150 nl. Should I infer an actual 120 level?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Daniel, glad you like this series.

      Yes, ferritin levels will lag somewhat, but at what length of delay is hard to know. Probably short. In a week or two, most of the red cells donated will probably be replenished, so that’s the length of time a ferritin test will lag. I’d say your inference as to your ferritin values is likely right.

      If you started with a hemoglobin value of, say, 15, within a few hours after a donation it might be about 13.5, since you’ve donated about 10% of your entire blood supply. (450 ml donation vs about 5 liters total). Once the body starts replacing the lost blood volume, hemoglobin becomes diluted and drops, and this takes place relatively quickly. Building up the lost red cells with their hemoglobin takes longer and that is the pace that ferritin (and free iron) will be used up.

      Also, you learn something new every day. Older men have substantially lower blood volume that younger men: Total blood volume in healthy young and older men. 6.2 liters in 24 year olds vs 4.7 liters in 66 year olds, due to 21% lower plasma volume and 28% lower red cell volume in the older men. First I’ve heard this and seems highly significant to me, I’m going to have to look into this. It could account for a lot of older people’s lower exercise capacity.

      • Daniel F says:

        Thank you, Dennis. That’s clear and helpful.

        The difference in blood volume cetainly does seem significant. The decrease in red cell volume would imply that iron is getting pushed into ferritin over time and these is a decreasing need for new dietary iron over time.

  8. Mark B says:

    Hi PD,

    At the moment I typically consume, in a week, about 500g of beef or pig liver, and maybe 300 or 400g of beef or pork steak. The rest of the time it’s chicken, salmon or eggs. My overall diet is whole foods, paleo-ish, though with a fair amount of dairy and moderate potatoes / sweet potatoes. Decent amounts of fresh fruits & vegetables. Pumpkin seeds & nuts in moderation (maybe 30 grams a day). Green tea & redbush tea. No grains or sugar. I fast most days, usually 18+ hours. Supplementing with Vit D3, Vit K, Zinc, Copper, Magnesium. Planning to incorporate Hydroxycitrate, Nicotinamide, Resveratrol etc. Thinking about starting to take a small dose of aspirin.

    I’m 35 years old. 5’8” 130 lbs. Skinny-fat. Very small frame (exceptionally tiny hands). Exercise-wise, limited by circumstances to calisthenics, and some outdoor stuff (i.e. hill sprints). Not much strength but have done 100 push-ups / 10 pull ups in the past thanks to low body weight. Any fitness and strength gains acquired tend to evaporate with return to sedentary ways. Would love to get lean and build at least a little strength and mass.

    Sorry for the autobiography! All of the above is just a little background. My actual questions are:

    Since making your iron discoveries, have you reduced your consumption of red meat in order to absorb less heme iron?

    Would you consider my red meat consumption as outlined above to be reasonable — and do you have any views, positive or negative, on liver and other organ meats?


    BTW … The message you are spreading through your books, website and podcasts is invaluable, particularly for people like me who, alas, are ignoramuses when it comes to the science — the page that summarizes your current anti-aging interventions is a very welcome resource — keep up the excellent work.

    Mark B

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Mark, I have cut down somewhat on red meat, but it’s been gradual, since someone else in my household (girlfriend to be precise) does the shopping and cooking, although she’s definitely on board with all this. I have increased my curcumin dose (to one daily) and just ordered some IP6, which I’m going to take daily for awhile. I’ve done some further reading on IP6 and it appears to be quite effective for lowering iron levels.

      At your age, I’m not sure that taking aspirin is optimal; your risk/benefit ratio may be more skewed toward risk, if for no other reason that you stand to benefit less. (Assuming otherwise good health, etc.)

      As for your red meat consumption, that’s a fair amount, and heme iron (found in meat) is easily absorbed. You might consider taking some form of chelator when you eat red meat, or chase your meals with coffee, tea, or red wine. Liver is the meat that’s highest in iron.

      Probably worth emphasizing that if you keep your iron under control, at a safe, low normal level, I consider red meat to be a healthy option.

      Really glad to hear you think my message is important. That feedback is in turn important to me. I wish I could get that message out there a bit more and I’m of course always exploring ways to do so. A friend, 60ish woman, told me last night that she found my book Muscle Up “very convincing” and she started lifting weights!

  9. Mark B says:

    Many thanks for that response, PD. Curcumin is another supplement that I have been thinking about incorporating into my routine. Coffee, tea or red wine are all good options for me.

    I dearly wish I could get my 76 year old father to consider seriously things like intermittent fasting, low carb diet, and strength training. He’s in good-ish general health, but has been on statins for a while to control his cholesterol levels. Despite my lack of science knowledge (which I’m thinking about tackling through a return to higher education) I’ve got enough common sense and insight to see that most of what we’ve been told by health experts about animal fat, cholesterol and cardiovascular health is completely wrong. When I eat salmon, steak, eggs etc I can almost ‘feel’ nutrition going into my body. Same goes for fruits and vegetables. Conversely, if I were to eat a bowl of sugary breakfast cereal I would simply ‘know’, on some intuitive level, that what I’m eating is going to end up around my waistline.

    I’m more concerned about what the statins are doing to my Dad’s Co-Enzyme Q10 levels, than I am about his cholesterol. He was a decent athlete in his youth (middle distance running) and did physical labour for much of his working life, but I’m afraid he would look on lifting weights as some sort of new-fangled nonsense, and probably considers himself completely ‘past-it’ anyway. He’s also very resistant to the idea of supplements, as he has swallowed the widely-promoted idea that food can supply everything.

    Anyway — thanks again, and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. As part of my Christmas family visit, I’ll be trying to get Dad to consider a Q10 supplement!

    Mark B

  10. Rob H says:

    Hi Dennis, I heard recently that consumption of orange juice, lemon juice and vinegar (I’m guessing any acid) increase iron absorption, not sure if you aware of that? I don’t remember seeing that explicitly mentioned in your posts on iron. May be something to touch on in future, ie avoiding consuming substances which increase iron absorption when one is indulging in high iron foods such as red meat/ spinach etc?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Rob, yes, that’s correct, and not mentioning it was an oversight on my part. Probably writing from a very subjective POV, since I don’t consume any of those myself. Also alcohol increases iron absorption, though red wine polyphenols hinder it.

  11. Barrington says:

    P.d. I gave blood about a week ago to get the ball rolling, they said my hemoglobin was a 17.5 and that that was high, not too high to donate but high, there was not a ferritin reading, does the hemoglobin number by itself tell me anything?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Barrington, that hemoglobin is at about the top of the normal range for men. The only thing it tells you about your iron levels is that they are adequate, but not if they’re high. Blood banks only test hemoglobin, not ferritin; unfortunately, it’s common parlance among blood bank personnel to say “iron” when they mean hemoglobin, and that’s completely wrong and confuses most people.

      As for the cause of your relatively high hemoglobin, could be genetic or high testosterone. A high protein diet increases hemoglobin (though not abnormally).

  12. jackg says:

    Dennis, do you know what types of blood donation are best for getting rid of iron?

    When I went they were pushing hard for me to give the “double red” donation, so I did. I don’t know how its different though.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Jack, you’ve come to the right place, as I’ve spent 11 years of my adult life working in blood banks. Red cell (RBC) or whole blood donations are the only way to get rid of substantial amounts of iron. Platelet and plasma donations don’t count. Your double red cell donation was exactly what it sounds like: they took twice as many red cells as a normal donation. I presume you were hooked up to an apheresis machine and they return the plasma to you. (That’s the only way they can do a double red cell donation, otherwise too much blood volume is lost; since RBCs are only about half of the blood volume, they can take more of these so long as plasma is returned to you.) You’re probably not eligible to donate again for 4 months, twice the deferral period of a regular donation. But as far as getting rid of iron, you did double duty and may have lowered your ferritin by 60 points.

  13. spoonman says:

    v/v donating blood — any recommendations for getting over a reaction to needles? I donated blood several times while I was in college with no problems. However, I went to donate several years ago and about midway through I began hyperventilating. I don’t know why. Since then I have tried to donate a couple times and each time I have a bad reaction (i.e. racing heart, feel faint, hyperventilate). At this point I’m know it’s psychological, but feels involuntary. Any ideas on how to get over this? Just keep trying? It seems that trying to donate and failing just reinforces the negative feedback.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Afraid I coudn’y say, spoonman. Most donor reactions occur on the first donation, then they get over it. In your case that’s not happening. Maybe have a drink first?

    • Aidan says:

      Hey spoonman,

      Like you, I used to have a reaction to blood draws of any type. I’ve passed out cold in the chair in the past, and had all the other symptoms you describe on other occasions.

      I came across an article somewhere a few years ago that recommended flexing your stomach muscles before the needle goes in (I keep it like that for short blood draws). Guess what, it worked perfectly. I went from fainting from small blood draws to being able to do a 30 minute phlebotomy session laughing and joking with the staff the entire time.

  14. Waldo says:

    Don’t you still lose iron when donating platelets? I believe you lose 100ml of blood from that, which means you lose about 40-50mg of iron, and if you donate blood and then do 7 platelet donations in 7 weeks after that and repeat that cycle, you will lose around 500mg-600mg of iron every 8 weeks, which helps lower iron more quickly.

    Another option is to donate blood with 2 different blood donation centers, so you could donate at one place, and then 4 weeks later, go donate somewhere else and alternate every 4 weeks. That way you could lose 400-500mg of iron every 8 weeks instead of just 200-250mg.

  15. Waldo says:

    Also, could it be that iron may not even truly be a required nutrient, but just pure poison?

    • joel says:

      Waldo, I read the article, and the author does an excellent job at exposing how iron is bad and how copper is deficient in humans BUT he does not offer a solution, meaning how to get rid of iron and how to replenish copper. Very frustrating.

  16. Lisa says:

    105 lb female 5’3″. I have several symptoms of inflammation including insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, joint pain and most significantly – high markers for atherosclerosis. My blood tests have come back with very high ( overloaded) iron serum but very low ferratin (15). What does this mean? I feel that if I donate blood my ferratin will drop too low, but does that even matter considering my free iron is so insanely high? Thoughts and musings would be very welcome!

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Lisa, it seems doubtful that you have iron overload with a ferritin that low. If you have high serum iron, it could mean a number of things, and you may need other tests like a TIBC, and very likely a doctor’s guidance in the matter.

  17. tj says:

    i scored a 42. so thats too low? im fine with it. keep drinkin my green tea and eatin dark chocolate.

  18. Lucas says:

    Cilantro works!! Finally reduced my ferritin, serum iron and transferrin saturation!!
    My ferritin was 231 in the end of august, and now is 169 ng/ml!!
    Serum iron was 110 ug/dl, and now is 60 ug/dl!! It is close to deficiency, since the reference range is 59 – 159 ug/dl.
    Transferrin Saturation was 40%, and now is 20,7 % !! Whooo!!
    What I did? Simple. 1 teaspoon of powdered Cilantro on breakfast, and 1 tablespoon at lunch and dinner, this added to the food, since I like the taste of it.
    Now I will keep doing it until I reach a ferritin of 50 ng/ml. My only concern is the lower serum iron, don’t know what this mean.
    So, this is my testimonial, I hope this is informative for people that have high iron to try Cilantro.
    I starting chelating iron after founding this site and buying your book.
    Thank you very much.

    • joel says:

      did you notice any side effect, healing reactions from eating that much cilantro? some say that cilantro can mobilize large amounts of heavy metals on the body(including iron) and relocate it somewhere else in the body, creating lots of damage while doing this relocation process…

      • Lucas says:

        No side effect or healing reactions. I became to think that my high ferritin is because of inflammation from hypothyroidism that I have, this maybe explain the low serum iron and transferrin saturation.

  19. Jeff Daniels says:

    Your article may be a life saver for me. My ferritin is 1032 from transfusions 2 yrs ago,My he,matologist says it’s already done its damage, but I just found out i am apoe3/4 so I was
    chastened to do something with your analogy to dynamite. I heard 3 months of lactoferri helps a lot????? what do you think? thanks

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Jeff – lactoferrin can help, but at a ferritin as high as yours, I’m surprised your doctor hasn’t offered you therapeutic phlebotomy, the most effective way to lower ferritin. Or maybe because of your transfusions, you’re not eligible for it? I discuss a lot of ways to lower iron in my book, Dumping Iron.

      • jeff daniels says:

        Thanks for the response. I hestitate to donate cause my hemo hovers around 13(which is what red cross wants).. Besides nettles, do you know of ways to raise rbc besides epigen? I fear getting anemic, but I’ve had 11 and felt o.k. Can you say with accuracy, how many points lost in a session? tjhanks, jeff

        • P. D. Mangan says:

          You ferritin will drop from 30 to 50 points with 1 blood donation. I suspect you may be ineligible to donate anyway, if you have a low hemoglobin and required transfusions in the past. You have thalassemia?

          • Conduit_Cut says:

            Greetings from England! First time poster here.

            First, I’d like to thank you for drawing my attention to Iron levels. It’s not something I would ever have thought about otherwise. I have since bought your book and made my first ever blood donation.

            I have two questions:

            1) I got my Serum Ferritin measured last year and was shocked to see it reported as 319. People usually say that I look younger than I am, so I wasn’t expecting it to be that high. Is it possible that I got a falsely high reading? A week earlier I had a virus that made me take two days off work, as I was exhausted. Could that have affected the reading?

            2) I went to Whole Foods in London to get some turmeric and was astonished to see that it said “Naturally high in Iron” on the packet. That put me off buying it, as the whole aim was to reduce Iron. Is there something I’m misunderstanding here?

            I apologise if the answers are in the book, as I left it at my parents house and don’t have it to hand.

          • P. D. Mangan says:

            It’s possible that you had a spuriously high ferritin test, but I think it’s unlikely. High inflammation can cause high ferritin that isn’t closely related to iron, but that’s usually due to serious illness. But, a virus infection strong enough to keep you from work might do it. As for turmeric, I wouldn’t worry about iron in it. All plant foods have some amount of iron but it isn’t necessarily well-absorbed; plus food companies say things like that because they think it’s a selling point. Curcumin, which comes from turmeric, can cause iron deficiency in rats if given long enough.

          • Conduit_Cut says:

            Thank you very much for your swift response! Your good work is very much appreciated.


          • jeff daniels says:

            Thanks for the reply. No, I don’t have thassa? @ yrs ago an antibiotic went nuts and my system started after my red bl cells. They gave me 30-40 transfusions. Your analogy to dynamite scared me, I am going to try blood letting. They kicked me out of the hospital when my blood hit 11. Its 13 now.I didn’t feel weak at 11. Do you have a rough rule- How many rbc/ donation are lost. thanks

  20. Conduit_Cut says:

    Just for information, concerning the situation regarding blood donation in the United Kingdom:

    – The amount taken when I did it was 470ml. It took just over nine minutes.

    – Men have to wait 12 weeks before donating again. Women must wait 16 weeks.

    If you want to donate in Britain, you join up here:

    Thanks again to Mr Mangan for prompting me to do something!


  21. Victor says:

    Amazing article with lots of good details. I found out this about 8 months ago but never really got the proof to show it. Very few articles back this theory so I just followed my instincts and body when I felt that my high ferritin is the cause of my misery. It wasnt too high but definitely at higher end (200+). I managed to take it down to 120 without donation (cant donate for several reasons). Now when I go for a blood test I ask the lab lady to take extra amount of blood (about 100ml each time) and this also helps a lot. You could probably mention milk thistle which is an amazing iron chelator as well. It helps your liver to produce essential proteins that will use up iron in the body to reproduce red blood cells. It is a complicated process, but milk thistle was my greatest help in lowering ferritin. (I drink a lot of coffee and moderate amount of red wine as well with meals…). Turmeric and green tea also helped a lot of direct iron chelation as you also mentioned in your article.

    thanks a lot for the great article an figures it is a great help (e.g.:didnt know how much ferritin you loose by giving away blood…etc.)

  22. Dani says:

    Hi I’m having MS symptoms and I ended hear , because I had high Iron in my test result , it’s 191 from where normal is 17-160 , what is the right iron I gotta lose ??


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