Doctors advise an iron profile test to evaluate underlying medical conditions due to the deficiency or excess of iron in the body.
Role of Iron in Health
Iron is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in the body. It helps in the formation of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron also plays a role in energy production, immune function, and cognitive development.
Iron Profile Test
This is a combination of tests that provide a doctor information on the iron balance in the body. The iron profile test consists of serum iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), transferrin saturation and ferritin.
Iron Profile Test- Serum Iron
The serum iron test measures the amount of iron in the part of the blood called serum.
Normal Levels of Serum Iron
Normal iron levels in the blood can vary depending on age, gender, and other factors. Generally, for adult men, the normal range of serum iron is 65 to 175 mcg/dL (11.6 to 31.3 µmol/L), while for adult women, it is 50 to 150 mcg/dL (8.9 to 26.8 µmol/L).
Abnormal levels of serum Iron
Low iron levels in the blood can lead to anemia, a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Symptoms of anemia can include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
High iron levels in the blood can be a sign of hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes the body to absorb too much iron. This can lead to damage to the liver, heart, and other organs. Symptoms of hemochromatosis can include fatigue, joint pain, and abdominal pain.
Iron profile test- Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)
TIBC is a part of the iron profile test and measures the total capacity of proteins in the blood to bind with iron. It reflects the body’s iron-carrying capacity and helps healthcare professionals assess iron-related disorders.
Normal levels of TIBC
The normal range for TIBC typically falls between 250 and 460 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL), although slight variations may exist depending on the laboratory.
Abnormal values of TIBC
Elevated TIBC can indicate conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, chronic blood loss, pregnancy, or liver disease. Iron deficiency affects both males and females, potentially leading to fatigue, weakness, and impaired cognitive function.
Decreased TIBC values may be associated with hemochromatosis, a disorder characterized by excessive iron absorption.
Iron Profile Test- Transferrin Saturation
Transferrin saturation indicates the percentage of transferrin molecules in the blood that are saturated with iron. It helps doctors evaluate iron status and related disorders. It is a part of the iron profile test.
Normal Values for Transferrin Saturation
Typically, the normal range for transferrin saturation falls between 20% and 50%, although slight variations may occur depending on the laboratory.
Abnormal Transferrin Saturation
Elevated transferrin saturation levels may suggest iron overload conditions like hereditary hemochromatosis or chronic liver disease.
Decreased transferrin saturation values can be associated with iron deficiency anemia or chronic inflammation.
Iron Profile Test- Ferritin
Ferritin is a protein that serves as the primary intracellular iron storage molecule. It reflects the body’s iron stores and helps doctors assess iron-related disorders. It is a part of the iron profile test.
Normal Values of Ferritin
The normal range for ferritin levels typically varies based on age, gender, and other factors. In general, normal ferritin values range between 12 and 300 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
Abnormal Ferritin Levels
Elevated ferritin levels can indicate conditions such as iron overload disorders (e.g., hemochromatosis), chronic liver disease, or inflammation.
Decreased ferritin levels may suggest iron deficiency anemia or insufficient iron stores.
Iron profile test and infertility
Iron levels can play a role in fertility, and low iron levels have been associated with infertility in both men and women.
In women, iron deficiency anemia can disrupt the menstrual cycle and impair ovulation, which can make it harder to conceive. Iron deficiency can also cause irregular periods. Studies have found that women with low iron levels are at increased risk of infertility. Iron supplementation can improve fertility outcomes.
In men, low iron levels can also have a negative impact on fertility. Iron is important for the production of healthy sperm, and low iron levels have been linked to reduced sperm motility and abnormal sperm morphology. One study found that men with iron deficiency anemia had a significantly higher rate of infertility compared to men without anemia.