Iron tests are groups of clinical chemistry laboratory blood tests that are used to evaluate body iron stores or the iron level in blood serum

The tests performed tends to identify various causes, they include:

  • Serum iron – This test helps to know the level of iron in blood
  • Total-iron binding capacity (TIBC) – This test helps to measure the proteins in the blood that are available to bind with iron, including transferrin. They help to transport iron in the body. A rise in transferrin levels are seen when there are low levels of iron in the body.
  • Unsaturated iron-binding capacity (UIBC) – This test helps to measure the reserve capacity of transferrin, the portion of transferrin that has not yet been saturated.
  • Transferrin saturation – In this test the percentage of the transferrin that is saturated with iron is calculated.
  • Serum ferritin – This test presents the amount of stored iron in the body; ferritin is the main storage protein for iron.

Note: A low iron with a high transferrin or TIBC is usually due to iron deficiency. In chronic diseases, both iron and transferrin or TIBC are typically low.

When are these tests performed?

  • Chronic fatigue/tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin (pallor)
  • Ferritin, transferrin saturation, and a TIBC or UIBC may be ordered when a doctor suspects that a person may have a chronic iron overload.