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069: In hemochromatosis, why would ferritin be low but transferrin saturation high?

Masterjohn Q&A Files Episode 69


Ferritin is your long-term iron storage. Transferrin is your short-term iron storage. The problem with hemochromatosis is that usually in a normal functioning system, there is a hormonal regulatory system that prevents you from absorbing iron from food when you have enough iron that when you have too much iron, shuttle the iron into ferritin which is protective both against pathogens eating the iron to grow and against oxidative stress, which free iron causes, which if you don't know the details about can be thought of as wear and tear on your tissues over time.

In hemochromatosis, normally the way you judge how much iron you have is in the circulating transferrin pool, which is your short-term storage. How full is it? The defect in hemochromatosis is that when the short-term storage, transferrin, starts getting fuller than usual, you don't notice it, so you don't stop absorbing iron from food that makes the transferrin saturation go up even further. But you don't shuttle the iron into ferritin. That makes ferritin lower.

This Q&A can also be found as part of a much longer episode, here:

Harnessing the Power of Nutrients
Recording and Transcript of Ask Me Anything About Nutrition | March 4, 2019
Watch now (157 min) | On March 4, you joined me in a live Zoom meeting to ask me anything about nutrition, and here’s the full recording! We talk about things like: How much spinach, broccoli, and kale is too much? Can frozen vegetables be trusted for their folate? Do cooked legumes lose folate when frozen…
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The Masterjohn Q&A Files
We use Zoom, a video chatting software, in webinar mode. You can ask your question anonymously in text, but you can also ask it publicly, and you can even get "on stage" and share your mic, web cam, or screen with everyone.
Chris Masterjohn, PhD