This panel contains the following tests:
- Iron, Serum
- Iron Saturation
- Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)
- Unsaturated Iron Binding Capacity (UIBC)
Iron plays a principle role in the formation and maturation of red blood cells. Of the body’s normal 4-5 grams of iron, approximately 65% resides in hemoglobin with a small amount also being found in muscle and in cellular enzymes throughout the body’s tissues. Any remaining iron is stored mostly in the liver bound to a protein called ferritin. The amount of ferritin found in blood shows how much iron is stored in body. Transferrin is a protein that transports iron from intestines to cells throughout body. Normally, about 1/3 of the transferrin in body is being used to transport iron. The percent of transferrin that has iron bound to it is called iron saturation.
Serum iron is a measure of the total circulating iron in blood and total iron binding capacity (TIBC) is an indirect measure of the amount of transferrin you have. On average about one third of the transferrin in body is being used to transport iron. The remaining transferrin, not being used to transport iron is called the Unsaturated Iron Binding Capacity (UIBC).
These tests define a variety of iron problems and differentiate between different types of anemia. TIBC is high in iron deficiency anemia and low/normal with anemia of chronic disease. TIBC diagnoses iron overload, which is called hemochromatosis.
Low levels of iron are associated with iron deficiency anemia. Anemia is associated with fatigue, low energy, and in some cases, can manifest as muscle aches and headaches. High levels of iron are associated with liver disease, kidney disease and vitamin B6 deficiency.
An 8 to 12-hour fast is required for this blood test. However, drink plenty of water and take medications as prescribed. Iron measurements following blood donations or transfusions should be delayed for one week.