At a Glance
Why Get Tested?
To learn about the levels of iron stored in your body
When to Get Tested?
When your doctor suspects you may not have enough iron (leading to anaemia) or too much iron in your system (leading to organ damage)
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm
The Test Sample
What is being tested?
Iron is an integral part of haemoglobin, the red protein that carries oxygen in the blood. An inadequate supply of iron is one cause of a fall in haemoglobin or anaemia. This test measures the amount of ferritin in the blood. Ferritin is an iron-containing protein that is the primary form of iron stored inside of cells. The small quantity of ferritin that is released into the blood is a reflection of the amount of total iron stored in the body.
Iron is mainly stored in the protein ferritin, but also in another protein called haemosiderin. Ferritin and haemosiderin are present mostly in the liver, but also in the bone marrow, spleen and muscles. Small amounts of ferritin also circulate in the blood. In healthy people, most iron is stored in ferritin (an estimated 70% in men and 80% in women) and smaller amounts are stored in haemosiderin. Inadequate dietary iron or increased demand as in pregnancy or malabsorption or blood loss over a long period (e.g. excessive menses or with haemorrhoids) may lead to depletion of iron stores and anaemia.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is drawn by needle from a vein in your arm.
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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.