Our bodies require iron to make haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen through our body. If we don’t have the right iron level in our blood cells, our bodies cannot get the oxygen they need.
Too little iron in our bodies can also lead us to become anaemic or tire easily. At the same time, too much iron can damage our internal organs and increase the risk of other serious illnesses such as diabetes.
What are healthy iron levels?
Healthy iron levels differ for men and women.
For women to have a healthy iron level, their haemoglobin range should be between 12 to 15 grams of haemoglobin per deciliter of blood.
For men to have a healthy iron level, their haemoglobin range should be between 13.5 to 17.5 grams of haemoglobin per deciliter of blood. These numbers are higher for women, as men tend to store more iron in their bodies than women.
How can I check the level of iron in my body?
You can use iron tests, such as Test2Go’s Iron Status Test, to measure different substances in the blood to check your body’s iron levels.
The testing biomarkers in our Iron Status test include:
- Ferritin – a protein that stores iron inside your blood cells
- Iron – a mineral that your body needs for growth
- Total Iron Binding Concentration – the blood’s ability to attach itself to iron and transport it around the body
- Transferrin – a protein which binds and transports iron in blood serum
- Unsaturated Iron
- Unsaturated Iron Binding Concentration – measures how much transferring is not yet attached to iron.
Iron status tests can be used to:
- check if your iron levels are too low, which is a sign of anaemia
- check if your iron levels are too high, which could be a sign of hemochromatosis
Why might I want to take an iron test?
Taking an iron test might be a good idea if you have symptoms that indicate your iron levels are too high or too low.
Symptoms of low iron levels include:
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- Pale skin
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
- Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritious substances
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children
Symptoms of high iron levels include:
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- Weight loss
- Joint Pain
- Erectile Dysfunction – an inability to get or maintain an erection
- Irregular or absent periods
What happens when I take an iron status test?
Our home iron status test contains the kit you need to take a finger-prick blood sample following the enclosed instructions and return it to our accredited labs for testing.
Once we have received your blood sample at our labs, we aim to have the results back to you within two working days.
What do the test results mean?
If the test results indicate that your iron levels are too low, you may have either iron deficiency anaemia or thalassemia.
If the test results indicate that your iron levels are too high, you may have hemochromatosis or liver disease.
However, it is essential to remember that if your test results indicate your iron level is not normal, it does not necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Some medicines, including birth control pills, can affect iron levels, and women may find their iron levels are lower during their period.
NB. It is important to note that our tests are not a substitute for seeing a doctor, particularly if you have symptoms. You should not make a diagnosis or start any treatment without a consultation with a doctor or a suitably trained health professional.