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Iron Levels Test £29.95
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Iron including Total Iron-Binding Capacity Test

What is Iron and TIBC?

Iron is a mineral that is needed to produce red blood cells and is an essential component of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein found inside red blood cells. Its role is to carry oxygen to cells of the body. If the body lacks iron, there may be insufficient haemoglobin.

Other body tissues also need iron to work properly, such as the bone marrow and muscles, or for normal development, such as the brain and immune system.

Another protein called transferrin is made by the liver. Transferrin controls the amount of iron in the blood. Iron is carried around the body bound to transferrin. The total iron binding capacity (TIBC) corresponds to the amount of the transferrin in your blood that is available to bind to iron.

Get an Iron and TIBC test?

Click on the link below to get this test.

Iron Levels Test £29.95

The test kit is specially designed to be easy for patients to use at home. Samples are returned to our laboratory in a reply-paid RM24 Tracked envelope that is included with the kit.

Results take 1 day to process from the time the sample is received back at the laboratory.

What is an Iron and TIBC test?

There are several kinds of iron tests, including the iron test, TIBC, transferrin test, and ferritin test. Here, we discuss the iron test including TIBC.

The iron test evaluates the amount of iron in the blood. As part of the iron test, the TIBC test measures the total ability of transferrin (and other proteins) in the blood to bind to iron and transport it around the body. The TIBC test reflects a body's iron stores.

Why is an Iron and TICB test important?

An iron test and TIBC are ways to monitor the body's iron levels and see if they are too low or too high, or can adequately maintain good health and normal functioning.

These tests may be carried out:

  • when screening for or diagnosing too low or too high iron levels, including iron-deficient anaemia, other types of anaemia, haemochromatosis (iron-overload), and liver disease
  • when following up on a long-term medical condition, including inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal bleeding, autoimmune disease, kidney disease, and cancer
  • if a routine blood test shows that your haemoglobin level or haematocrit value is low
  • if a woman has heavy menstrual bleeds or is pregnant or breast feeding
  • if a person is underweight, to check if sufficient iron is being consumed in the diet
  • to determine whether a treatment for an iron level that is low or high is working

Who should have their Iron level and TICB tested?

An iron test and/or TIBC may be suggested by your doctor if you have signs and symptoms indicating that your iron level is either too low or too high.

If you have an iron deficiency, then signs and symptoms may include tiredness, loss of energy, weakness, dizziness, increased heartbeat, breathlessness, frequent infections, and pale skin. On the other hand, if you have too much iron, then signs and symptoms may include loss of energy, tiredness, weakness, pain in the joints and/or the abdomen, irregular heartbeat, liver problems, and problems with libido, infertility and menstruation. The signs and symptoms of abnormalities in TIBC are similar to those of iron.

How to test for Iron and TICB?

An easy-to-use test kit provided by your doctor can enable you to collect a small sample of your blood at home. Basically, you clean the tip of your little finger and prick that area of skin using the lancet. A collection tube is provided to collect blood drops up to the top line marked on this tube. Any extra blood needed to reach that top line is collected the same way from the other little finger tip. After closing the collection tube (cap provided), the tube is gently inverted 5-10 times. There is a label that must be completed and stuck on the collection tube before the tube is put inside the packing wallet and posted. Full instructions come with the kit.

The iron and/or TICB test results will be sent to your doctor by the laboratory analysing your blood sample. You can find out your test results from your doctor at The Online Clinic via your patient dashboard, who will determine whether more tests are needed.

What are normal Iron and TICB test results?

Test results are assessed against values considered to be 'normal'. These so-called reference ranges tend to vary among the different laboratories, and therefore are used as a guide only. A value that is not within the normal range could be considered normal for that individual person. Your doctor will tell you what your test results mean.

There is an interesting relationship between iron and TIBC. As an iron deficiency gets worse, the amount of iron stored gets progressively lower, and the body starts to increase transferrin production to increase the transport of iron. This means that the level of serum iron is low, while the transferrin level and TIBC are both high. In reverse, when the amount of iron stored gets too high, the level of serum iron is high, while the TIBC is low.

A low iron level may indicate:

  • Iron-deficiency anaemia (e.g., from infections and chronic diseases, a poor diet, surgery, heavy menstrual periods, during pregnancy or breast feeding when women supply their baby with iron, and in children who are rapidly growing)
  • Other types of anaemia (e.g., 'functional iron deficiency' due to an inflammatory disease where the body can't efficiently use iron to produce red blood cells)
  • Long-term blood loss (e.g., due to bleeding in the intestine or poor intestinal absorption).

A high iron level may indicate:

  • Iron overload, (e.g., from the genetic condition hemochromatosis)
  • Liver damage or disease
  • A condition known as haemolytic anaemia that causes early destruction of red blood cells
  • Frequent or recent blood transfusions
  • Iron or lead poisoning (e.g., from taking too many iron supplements)
  • Iron-replacement therapy.

How to maintain normal Iron levels and TICB

Foods high in iron are necessary to maintain healthy levels of iron and TIBC. Good animal food sources are meat and offal, salmon and shellfish; plant sources, which are more difficult to absorb than animal sources, include green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, cereals, and dried fruit. Vitamins A and C can increase iron absorption; calcium and tannins (found in tea) can reduce iron absorption; and too much alcohol can increase iron storage, especially in the liver.

Reviewed by: Dr Loraine Haslam MBBS, DRCOG, DFSRH, LoC SDI, LoC IUT, MRCGP
GMC registration number: 4524038
Date: 27 March 2023
Next review: 26 March 2025
All UK registered doctors can have their registration checked on
The Medical Register at the GMC website.
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