Iron plays the important role of carrying oxygen in a molecule called hemoglobin. There are millions of hemoglobin molecules in each red blood cell. Without enough iron, you can end up with too few red blood cells or not enough hemoglobin in each red cell, which can cause you to become anemic. This can cause tiredness, chest pain, abnormal heart beats, and other heart problems.
How are iron levels measured?
Iron levels are measured in blood drawn from a vein in the arm.
What are normal values for an iron panel?
- Iron: 60 to 170 micrograms per deciliter, or mcg/dL
- Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC): 240 to 450 mcg/dL
- Transferrin: 204 to 360 mg/dL
- Ferritin: 11 to 336 mcg/L
What are transferrin and ferritin?
- Transferrin is a protein that carries iron through your body. When iron in the blood is low, the liver produces more transferrin. When iron levels go down and transferrin levels go up, it is a definite sign that iron deficiency is present.
- Ferritin is a protein that stores iron. Ferritin levels go down before iron levels, so it is an early sign of iron deficiency.
What causes iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency is commonly caused by dietary deficiency, chronic bleeding, pregnancy, or poor absorption in the intestines.
How can I naturally get more iron?
Eating plenty of legumes, such as peas, and green leafy veggies, such as spinach, will help supply iron. Vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron you take in. Foods high in vitamin C include tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, and cantaloupe.
Can I order my own iron panel test?
Many patients can have problems getting timely appointments with doctors. QuickMD lets you order your own iron labs online. The test can be collected at any LabCorp near you. One of the QuickMD physicians will contact you with the results. If the results are abnormal, he or she will discuss the next steps with you.