Iron symbolizes strength. Your body uses this essential nutrient for a variety of functions, such as powering your muscles and carrying life-sustaining oxygen to your organs and tissues. Testing for a normal iron level is important because too much or too little can lead to serious health problems. Several laboratory tests are used to determine whether you have a normal level of iron in your body.
Serum Iron Level
A serum iron test determines how much iron is in your blood. The medical text "Wintrobe's Clinical Hematology" states that a normal level is approximately 70 to 200 micrograms per deciliter, noted as mcg/dL. However, the normal range for serum iron often differs from one laboratory to another and may vary according to your age and sex. Additionally, your serum iron level fluctuates throughout the day and can be affected by supplements and other factors. Therefore, other tests are often used in conjunction with your serum iron level to determine whether your body's iron level is normal.
Other Iron Tests
Maintaining normal iron balance in your body involves a complicated system of absorption, transport and storage. So a serum iron measurement alone isn't usually enough to determine whether your iron level is normal. Other tests your doctor may order include a ferritin, complete blood count, transferrin receptors and total iron binding capacity, or TIBC. The results of these tests along with your serum iron level will help your doctor determine whether you have too much or too little iron in your body -- and what the problem might be if the results are abnormal.
Is This an Emergency?
- Wintrobe's Clinical Hematology, 13th Edition; John P. Greer, M.D., et al.
- Merck Manual Professional Edition: Overview of Iron Overload (Hemosiderosis; Hemochromatosis)
- Merck Manual Professional Edition: Decreased Erythropoiesis
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: How Is Iron-Deficiency Anemia Diagnosed?