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why would I have a low ferritin level and a high iron binding capacity leval?

Posted by firenumone

Answers (1)
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The simple answer is that you might be iron deficient. However, lab tests should not be interpreted in a vacuum.  They need to be evaluated in context of individual differences in what might be normal, clinical examination by your health care practitioner, and your history, signs and symptoms. Without knowing more, I can only advise that you discuss these results with your physician or nurse practitioner who know more about you.

However, here is some general info about ferritin and TIBC excerpted from

"Serum ferritin level - Ferritin is an indicator of stored iron in the body. Ferritin is the main protein that stores iron for areas that need it, especially the liver and the bone marrow where red blood cells are made. The iron ferritin level is the first in line to drop if the individual suffers any iron insufficiency from diet, malabsorption or loss during heavy or menstruation lasting more than 5 days. A drop in the iron ferritin level occurs before any depletion in serum iron (as seen in iron-deficient anemia) and may decrease significantly without any obvious symptoms whatsoever. While the serum ferritin level at which a deficiency can be claimed is hotly argued by different schools of doctors, an excess of serum ferritin is generally agreed to be a bad thing. Iron stored at high levels is toxic. The body can only metabolize so much iron in a day. If it receives too much, the body is overwhelmed and toxic effects develop. It is possible to overdose on iron supplements. For this reason, taking large supplement doses of iron is not recommended. If, in response to a low iron and ferritin test result, you start to take iron supplements and feel ill, it probably means you are taking to much for your body to cope with. Take a lower dose.
Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC) - TIBC measures the amount of transferrin you have. Transferrin is a blood protein that transports iron from the gut, where the iron is absorbed from food, to the cells that use it. When iron stores are low, the body will make more transferrin so that it can collect more iron absorbed from food and make more efficient use of it. If there is too much iron coming from the gut, the body will reduce production of transferrin so that less of the iron is taken up and transported around the body. On average about one third of the transferrin in the body is being used to transport iron. Because of this, the blood serum of healthy individuals has an excess iron-binding capacity. This is called the Unsaturated Iron Biding Capacity (UIBC). The TIBC equals UIBC plus the serum iron measurement. Some laboratories measure UIBC, some measure TIBC, and some measure transferrin. These tests are usually done together and analyzed in relation to each other. On their own the values do not mean much, but together the test results are helpful in defining several iron problems." 

Hope this helps - let us know what you find out and how you are doing.

Lynette Sheppard RN



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