Iron Levels verses Iron Stores

Iron levels and Iron “Stores” are often confused.  Often a source of repeated questions on our associated Social Media membership.

We are going to summarize 4 iron associations you may hear thrown around, see on Blood Test results, or referred to by your Doctor.  Realize this information is very abbreviated.  You can search and seek out way more detail if you are so inclined.

In all cases, do not attempt to dose yourself with OTC supplements.  Often this Iron subject is misunderstood.   Only take these types of supplements under the direction of your Dr.  All CAD’s are different, with possibly unknown secondary issues.  You can not judge yourself based on someone else, or what their doctor may have prescribed them.  There could be negative consequences should you over shoot normal levels by taking products blindly.

Iron (Iron blood level)
Iron “Stores”
Iron carrier
Total Iron Binding Capacity

Iron,  is involved in the formation and functioning of hemoglobin found in red blood cells. Most iron is found in hemoglobin.  Blood Iron levels represent the balance between dietary intake and iron losses.  Excessive Iron loss can be from bleeding, excessive Hemolysis, or other causes.

Ferritin is a blood protein.  Ferritin is the main storage protein for iron.  Ferritin levels are a good indicator of how much iron is stored within your body.  Ferritin levels are used to assess the body’s Iron “Stores”.

Both Iron and Ferritin tests may go by various names depending on the lab?

Plus there are also two other, less commonly known tests, you and your Hematologist might be interested in knowing the results of?

Iron needs a protein, called Transferrin, to travel in the blood.

Iron binding capacity is the body’s capacity to bind Iron to Transferrin.

Your body creates Transferrin via the liver, in a relationship to your body’s need for Iron.  When your Iron “Stores” are low, Transferrin levels increase.  If your Iron “Stores” are high, Transferrin will decrease.  This test result will be a percentage.

Based on the results of that test.  If abnormal, it can be used to help differentiate which type of anemia may exist.

As with many tests.  Information from any of these tests may only be a small piece of making a diagnosis.

The four most frequent iron-related tests are::

Serum iron – measures iron levels in serum; represents iron that is almost completely bound to Transferrin.

Serum Ferritin – measures the body’s ability to store iron.

Transferrin – measures levels of the iron carrier.

Total iron binding capacity (TIBC) – measures the Transferrin Capacity to Bind Iron.

Supplements/Meds/Diet source, often used to treat low Iron Blood Levels and low Iron Stores are:
Folic Acid
Some of this can be OTC Supplements.  Or diet change.  But some can range through prescription oral meds, to IV Infusion Therapy.

You may also want to use this link to:   Review the Retic connection to Iron.