Ferritin, Iron & Total Iron Binding Capacity -TIBC

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.


Ferritin is a protein found inside cells that stores iron so your body can use it later. A ferritin test indirectly measures the amount of iron in your blood. The amount of ferritin in your blood (serum ferritin level) is directly related to the amount of iron stored in your body.

Also known as: Iron and TIBC, Iron and Total Iron Binding Capacity TIBC, TIBC

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Iron Binding Capacity

Total iron binding capacity (TIBC) is a blood test to see if you may have too much or too little iron in the blood. Iron moves through the blood attached to a protein called transferrin. This test helps your doctor know how well that protein can carry iron in the blood.

Iron, Total

Iron is a mineral that our bodies need for many functions. For example, iron is part of hemoglobin, a protein which carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies. It helps our muscles store and use oxygen. Iron is also part of many other proteins and enzymes. Your body needs the right amount of iron. If you have too little iron, you may develop iron deficiency anemia. Causes of low iron levels include blood loss, poor diet, or an inability to absorb enough iron from foods. People at higher risk of having too little iron are young children and women who are pregnant or have periods.
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The Ferritin, Iron & Total Iron Binding Capacity -TIBC panel contains 2 tests with 4 biomarkers.

Brief Description: The Ferritin, Iron, & Total Iron Binding Capacity panel is a specific collection of blood tests aimed at evaluating the body's iron status and storage. As essential components in the diagnosis and monitoring of various iron disorders, these tests provide healthcare professionals with valuable insights into the body's ability to transport, store, and utilize iron – a vital mineral integral to numerous physiological processes, including the synthesis of hemoglobin, a molecule within red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen.

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: Patient should be fasting 9-12 hours prior to collection and collection should be done in the morning.

When and Why the Ferritin, Iron, & Total Iron Binding Capacity Panel May Be Ordered

This panel is frequently ordered when a patient presents symptoms indicative of iron deficiency or overload. Symptoms of iron deficiency can range from fatigue, weakness, pale skin, to more severe signs such as difficulty concentrating or shortness of breath. Conversely, symptoms of iron overload might include joint pain, fatigue, and abdominal pain. Moreover, in cases where patients are undergoing treatment for iron-related disorders, the panel can be utilized to monitor the effectiveness of interventions.

It's also common for this panel to be ordered as part of routine health screenings, especially in populations vulnerable to iron abnormalities, such as pregnant individuals, frequent blood donors, or those with a history of anemia.

What the Ferritin, Iron, & Total Iron Binding Capacity Panel Checks For

Ferritin: This test measures the amount of ferritin in the blood, which reflects the quantity of iron stored in the body. Ferritin levels can provide insights into the body's iron reserves.

Iron: This evaluates the amount of circulating iron in the blood. It gives an immediate snapshot of iron levels, indicating how much is available to be utilized by the body.

Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC): TIBC quantifies the maximum amount of iron that proteins in the blood, particularly transferrin, can carry. A higher TIBC typically suggests that the body's iron stores are low and vice versa.

Other Lab Tests Often Ordered Alongside the Ferritin, Iron & Total Iron Binding Capacity Panel:

When a Ferritin, Iron, and Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC) Panel is ordered, it is typically done to evaluate iron status in the body, diagnose iron deficiency anemia, or assess iron overload conditions such as hemochromatosis. To gain a comprehensive understanding of a patient's iron metabolism and related health conditions, additional tests are often included. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside this panel:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC):

    • Purpose: To evaluate overall blood health, including red and white blood cells and platelets.
    • Why Is It Ordered: A CBC can indicate anemia, with specific changes in red blood cells (like low mean corpuscular volume, MCV) suggesting iron deficiency anemia.
  2. Serum Transferrin:

    • Purpose: To measure the level of transferrin in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To further assess iron transport capacity, as transferrin levels increase in iron deficiency and decrease in iron overload.
  3. Hemoglobin and Hematocrit:

    • Purpose: To measure the amount of hemoglobin in the blood and the proportion of blood made up of red blood cells.
    • Why Is It Ordered: These are key indicators of anemia. Low levels can be a result of chronic iron deficiency.
  4. Reticulocyte Count:

    • Purpose: To measure the number of reticulocytes (immature red blood cells) in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess bone marrow response to anemia. In iron deficiency anemia, the count may be lower than expected.
  5. Vitamin B12 and Folate Tests:

    • Purpose: To measure levels of these vitamins.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Deficiencies in vitamin B12 or folate can also cause anemia, sometimes with a presentation similar to iron deficiency anemia.
  6. C-Reactive Protein (CRP) or Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR):

    • Purpose: To measure markers of inflammation.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Inflammation can affect iron levels and erythropoiesis (red blood cell production), so these tests can help distinguish between anemia of chronic disease and iron deficiency anemia.
  7. Liver Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess liver health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: The liver plays a role in iron metabolism, and liver diseases can affect iron storage and transport.

These tests, when ordered alongside a Ferritin, Iron, and TIBC Panel, provide a comprehensive evaluation of iron metabolism, anemia, and related health conditions. They are crucial for diagnosing the cause of anemia, assessing the risk of iron overload, and guiding treatment decisions. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual's symptoms, clinical history, and the results of initial tests.

Conditions or Diseases the Ferritin, Iron, & Total Iron Binding Capacity Panel Checks For

The Ferritin, Iron, & Total Iron Binding Capacity panel is instrumental in diagnosing and differentiating between:

  • Iron Deficiency Anemia: Lower than normal iron and ferritin levels alongside an elevated TIBC suggests a deficiency in iron.

  • Iron Overload or Hemochromatosis: Elevated iron and ferritin levels can indicate excessive iron in the body.

  • Chronic Illness or Inflammation: High ferritin levels, despite normal or low iron levels, can indicate anemia of chronic disease.

  • Liver Disease: Elevated ferritin can also suggest liver damage.

The Ferritin, Iron, & Total Iron Binding Capacity panel is a fundamental tool for assessing the body's iron balance. Its ability to capture both the immediate status and storage of iron ensures a comprehensive understanding, allowing for timely diagnosis, informed interventions, and effective monitoring of iron-related conditions. For anyone facing symptoms of iron imbalance or simply aiming for a thorough health check-up, this panel is indispensable.

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