Everyone knows what iron is but what does it do in your blood? It is a component of hemoglobin, an important tool for red blood cells to bind oxygen. We get it through our food. It is absorbed into the body and distributed by transferrin, a protein from the liver.
About 70% of the iron in our bodies is linked to hemoglobin in red blood cells, the rest is linked to ferritin and stored in tissues. If there is not enough iron absorbed through food, the stores in the body will shrink. This can lead to anemia because not enough red blood cells can be formed.
A surplus (hemochromatosis) is also not good and can lead to problems with the liver, heart or pancreas.
For example, in complaints of fatigue. In cases of anemia, this determination can help identify the cause of the anemia.
The iron level in the blood varies greatly throughout the day, which is why the binding capacity (transferrin) is often measured in addition to iron. This often says more about the iron balance than the level alone.
What do the results mean?
Iron is (much) higher than 20 µmol/l and the transferrin saturation higher than 50%. In that case there may be iron accumulation, a disease in which the body constantly takes in too much iron from the food in the intestine because the intestinal cells think that the body has too little iron. Ferritin is therefore usually greatly elevated (above 500 micrograms/L) may also occur in patients who have just started taking iron tablets.
This is very common. For example, during menstruation, women may lose "too much" blood causing iron deficiency, and this can lead to anemia (anemia). This form of anemia is called iron deficiency anemia. In this case, transferrin saturation is often below 10%. Ferritin is then usually < 20 micrograms/L.