Iron and Total Iron-Binding Capacity
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This panel contains the following tests:
Iron plays a principle role in the synthesis of red blood cells. It is necessary for proliferation of red cells and is required for hemoglobin production. Of the body’s normal 4 grams of iron, approximately 65% resides in red blood cells with a small amount also being found in muscle and in cellular enzymes throughout the body’s tissues. Any remaining iron is stored mostly in the liver as ferritin.
Iron is transported in the blood as transferrin, a major transport protein. Transferrin carries 60-70% of the body’s iron. The total amount of iron bound to transferrin is referred to as total iron-binding capacity (TIBC). TIBC will help your doctor differentiate between different types of anemia. TIBC is high in iron deficiency anemia and low/normal with anemia of chronic disease. TIBC is also used to help doctors diagnose iron overload, which is called hemochromatosis.
Low levels of iron are associated with iron deficiency anemia. Anemia is associated with fatigue, low energy, and in some cases, can manifest as muscle aches and headaches. High levels of iron are associated with liver disease, kidney disease and vitamin B6 deficiency.
This test may be done fasting or 2-6 hours after eating. Both ways provide valuable information, though 2-6 hours after a meal provides a more realistic assessment of the state of your blood in everyday life. Stay hydrated and take your medications as prescribed. Iron measurements following blood donations or transfusions should be delayed for one week.
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