Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional problem in the UK. It slows your body’s production of haemoglobin, which your red blood cells need to pick up oxygen from your lungs and carry it to every cell in your body. If you have a shortage of iron you experience symptoms of anaemia, which include feeling breathless after little exercise, feeling tired, heart palpitations and looking pale.
Athletes are typically at a higher risk of iron depletion due to increased red blood cell mass and higher iron needs, loss of iron in the sweat, trauma such as footstrike haemolysis (repeated pounding of the feet on hard surfaces) which can destroy red blood cells, and because iron intake is often sub-optimal in athletes on restricted diets.
The good news is that treating iron deficiency is relatively simple by making some adjustments to your diet. Iron-rich food sources include meats, eggs, green leafy vegetables, (such as spinach, collard greens and kale), wheat germ, whole grain breads, cereals and raisins. If you have low iron test results or have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anaemia or you are pregnant or breastfeeding, supplements may be needed to provide extra iron. It is not advisable to take iron supplements unless you are iron deficient, as excess iron can cause chronic iron overload.
This simple iron test measures how much iron you have in your blood, as well as the amount of iron you have stored in your body. This iron test can be used to diagnose anaemia or monitor an existing iron deficiency. This iron test can also be used to investigate iron overload syndrome (haemochromatosis) which is an inherited condition where your body cannot remove excess iron.
An essential trace element is necessary for forming healthy red blood cells and for some enzymes.
A protein that binds iron and transports it around the body (also known as TIBC). High levels indicate iron deficiency.
Low levels typically indicate iron deficiency, and high levels can indicate iron overload.
The ferritin concentration within the blood stream reflects the amount of iron stored in your body and is reduced in anaemia.
Your finger prick test kit and all instructions are posted directly to you, and there is no need to visit a collection centre.
You do not need to fast for this blood test.