Serum Ferritin & GGT: What You Need to Know
In the land of “blood tests” there are only a few markers that can directly tell you about your overall health. Vitamin D is by far one of the most important and well-known indicators, with a direct correlation to elevated levels (i.e. elevated vitamin D = elevated health). Two lesser known, yet equally important markers, are Serum Ferritin & GGT – both of which are indicators not only of your current state of health but also likelihood to developing heavy hitting diseases (cancer, diabetes, heart disease etc.).
Iron is a necessary nutrient and one of the primary building blocks of hemoglobin – the molecule that carries oxygen from your lungs to the cells of your body. If iron levels drop too low, oxygen levels can diminish and anemia becomes present (temporary fatigue, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, difficult concentrating, dizziness, leg cramps etc.). If iron levels are too high, signs of iron toxicity begin to present (chronic fatigue, join pains, abdominal pain, liver disease, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, heart failure etc.).
Ferritin is a protein produced by ever cell in the body to help regulate iron concentration at the perfect amount acting as a buffer against iron deficiency and iron overload. Ferritin levels elevate during states of iron overload (excess iron via diet or supplementation), alcohol consumption and as a result of chronic inflammation.
Elevations in blood ferritin levels can be an indicator that your body is heading towards, or is currently in a chronic diseased state. Elevated ferritin is causative in diabetes (5x increase in men and 4x increase in women), obesity, cancer and neurological diseases (Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Stroke, etc.)
Normal Serum Ferritin Value via Blood Examination:
Adult Men: <150 ng / ml Adult Women: <100 ng / ml Children: <80 ng / ml
*Note: Most medical labs will allow ferritin to be 300-500 ng/ml before they flag it as elevated. Its important you analyze your blood results yourself rather than relying on your MD to tell you about subclinical elevations
In my opinion adults and teens should have their serum ferritin levels tested annually for monitoring and maintenance. Elevated serum ferritin can only corrected via oral zeolite chelation (iron is a metal), therapeutic phlebotomy (bloodletting) and with dietary changes if necessary.
GGT is a liver enzyme involved in glutathione metabolism and the transport of amino acids and peptides. Not only will the GGT test tell you if you have liver damage, it can also be used as a screening marker for excess free iron and is a great better indicator of your sudden cardiac death risk than cholesterol.
Recently, research is now suggesting if both GGT and serum ferritin are high then you are at significantly increased risk for almost all chronic health problems (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, thyroid, kidney liver disease etc.) due to the combination of both freely floating toxic iron, iron storage and its associated liver toxicity, which only perpetuates the cycle.
GGT levels have also directly been used as a predictor of mortality – many insurance companies who ask their members to have an annual physical as part of the application process will look solely at GGT as an indicator of death risk – thus helping them to calculate your insurance premiums (Higher GGT, higher death risk, higher premiums).
Normal GGT Value via Blood Examination:
Men: Ideal: <16 U/L Good: <25 U/L Concern: 26-70 U/L Abnormal: >70 U/L
Women: Ideal: <9 U/L Good: <18 U/L Concern: 19-45 U/L Abnormal: >45 U/L
GGT is inversely related to the amount Glutathione (a master antioxidant and detoxification aid) present in the body. As GGT level rises, your glutathione goes down. This is yet another of the equation in explaining how elevated GGT harms your overall health – as diminished glutathione has been associated with inflammation, increased toxicity and deficiency in anti-oxidation. As glutathione levels increase, GGT will decrease. Glutathione can be taken as a direct supplement, in liposomal form, or via consumption the pre-cursor amino acids that make up glutathione (cysteine, glutamine and glycine) or by consuming foods high in natural glutathione (eggs, whey protein, turkey, chicken and duck).
GGT and Ferritin Interaction
Ferritin and GGT are interactive, and low GGT tends to be protective against higher ferritin. So, if your GGT is low, you’re largely protected even if your ferritin is a bit higher than ideal. On the other hand, even if your ferritin is low, elevated GGT levels is cause for concern and needs to be addressed with an emphasis on liver detoxification, glutathione supplementation and dietary changes.