Iron is one of the most essential minerals in the body since it is needed to make red blood cells or RBCs. These RBCs are responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the entire body. Too little or too much iron can cause various health problems. While having too much iron can cause toxicity and organ damage, iron deficiency can lead to anemia which pushes the heart to pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood.
An Iron Profile Test is a simple blood test that evaluates different parameters related to iron metabolism in the body. It finds out the levels of various iron-related markers, including serum iron, total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), transferrin saturation, and ferritin. These markers tell about iron deficiency or excess, as well as the body's ability to store and utilize iron efficiently.
What is measured in this test?
Serum Iron: This parameter evaluates the quantity of iron in the blood. It can reveal abnormally low or high blood iron levels. Its low levels could indicate that a person is not consuming enough iron in their diet. On the other hand, high serum iron level could indicate that a person is consuming too much iron.
Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC): It gauges how well iron moves through the body. Iron in the body is carried, or bound, mainly through a protein called transferrin. The test measures how much iron the blood proteins can bind. High TIBC shows an iron deficiency, as the body tries to compensate by increasing its capacity to bind more iron.
Unsaturated iron-binding capacity (UIBC): It measures the amount of transferrin that remains unattached to iron. It helps healthcare professionals determine the status of iron levels in the bloodstream.
Transferrin saturation (TS): Transferrin saturation is the ratio of serum iron and TIBC. TS is an important indicator of iron status than just iron or TIBC alone. In the case of iron deficiency, the iron level is low, but the TIBC gets higher, thus transferrin saturation becomes very low.
Ferritin: Ferritin test finds out the amount of a blood protein called ferritin, which stores iron. If your blood ferritin level is too low, it shows that your body’s iron stores are low and you have iron deficiency. This could indicate you are anemic. On the other hand, a higher than normal range you have a condition that causes your body to store too much iron.
Benefits of the Iron Profile Test
Early detection of iron deficiency: Iron deficiency is a prevalent nutritional deficiency that affects many individuals, especially women of reproductive age and children. The test can measure iron deficiency at an early stage, allowing for timely intervention to prevent the progression to anemia and associated complications.
Monitoring iron therapy: The test is an important tool for monitoring treatment response for individuals undergoing iron supplementation or treatment for iron-related disorders.
Assessment of iron overload disorders: Conditions like hemochromatosis, where the body absorbs and stores excessive iron, can lead to organ damage over time. The test helps in the diagnosis and monitoring of such disorders, enabling early intervention and appropriate management.
Evaluation of chronic diseases: Some chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney disease, and certain cancers, can disrupt iron metabolism and lead to iron deficiency or anemia. Through this test, an individual can monitor their iron levels and manage the condition effectively.