Iron Level and Total Iron-Binding Capacity
(Iron Tests)

Alternate Names

  • Fe and TIBC
  • Transferrin Saturation
  • Transferrin

Iron is obtained from the diet and is necessary for the normal formation of red blood cells. Three-quarters of the total iron level in the body is found in hemoglobin, the part of RBCs that carry oxygen to all the tissues of the body. Low blood levels of iron may be caused by decreased absorption in the intestines, a higher need, or blood loss; which leads to decreased levels of hemoglobin. High levels of iron (hemochromatosis) are due to toxicity or poisoning that will result in the formation of iron deposits in the heart, liver, or brain that causes abnormal functioning of these organs. High levels can be due to a large number of blood transfusions, but only for a short period of time.

Total Iron-Binding Capacity (TIBC) is an indirect measurement of the amount of transferring, a protein produced by the liver that is necessary for iron transport. Levels are an indication of how well the liver is working. Increased levels are seen during iron deficiency and during acute inflammations, chronic diseases, liver disease, or cancer. Low TIBC blood levels are seen in people with high protein blood levels, as well as in people receiving estrogen replacement therapy.


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