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Can anyone help me with these iron results?

(35 Posts)
turtlepie Mon 21-Jan-13 14:08:31

iron 18.7 (range 10.5-28)
ferritin 38 (range 30-400)
transferrin saturation 21% (range 20%-55%)

Symptoms are brain fog, very easily tired, worn out, needing more sleep than others. Told all within normal range.

From what I could discover on the net the iron is great, ferritin fine (?) and transferrin saturation, although at the bottom of the range is apparently only significant if iron is also low, in which case it would indicate iron deficiency? But iron is not low.

Would an iron supplement be of any benefit with these figures? And what (if any) is the significance of the apparently low transferrin saturation? (maybe it is good for it to be low like cholesterol for all I know??!)

Thanks
Turtle

RooneyMara Mon 21-Jan-13 14:18:24

I think an iron supplement wouldn't make you feel better as your iron is already pretty high imo - I'm not a doctor though so I'm only going on what I've read.

I think the average is around 14 - in pregnancy a lot of women go down to 11ish, mine went down to 7/8 and I needed supplements or I'd have needed a transfusion.

Your ferritin is the stored iron in your body. It looks a bit on the low side of normal to me, but then your HB is super normal so probably not an issue - sorry, I don't know.

I have read that overdosing on iron can cause some issues though so don't take any unless your Dr advises it.

sunnyday123 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:29:17

Hi when I had similar symptoms I had blood tests showing my ferritin was 10. (Not sure what other things she tested but she did refer to this as my iron level) As the normal range is up to 300 ish (level doctor told me so maybe for women's its lower?) she said she wanted it to be increased to the top of that range and I was put on daily supplements. It took 18 months to get my levels to 80 so its not a short term fix! I stopped in the end as they made me feel sick.

Don't think over the counter iron is enough as I think that's only giving you your daily recommended amount- not enough to replenish low stores too.

turtlepie Mon 21-Jan-13 14:39:56

So if iron level is good but ferritin very low end of range, could this make you feel rubbish or not?

sunnyday123 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:45:28

Not sure tbh? Did gp not offer iron then?

Was wondering if they've ever considered the thyroid gland being the root cause of your current problems. Have you had your thyroid levels properly tested?.

sunnyday123 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:55:38

Yes that's def worth getting tested, I had that diagnosed at age 23! My main symptoms were dry brittle hair and difficulty losing weight.

Thumbwitch Mon 21-Jan-13 14:56:14

Normal ranges vary from country to country and lab to lab.

Low ferritin means that you have low iron stores, which could mean a high turnover of blood (loss from periods etc.). It's important to raise your ferritin levels so that you have enough to make new blood cells or you may run the risk of becoming iron-deficient anaemic in the future.

You apparently have enough iron (although not sure how that was measured, it's not a measure we did in our haematology labs in the UK hospital I worked in). I'd be more interested in your full blood count results, tbh - the size of your blood cells and haemoglobin levels would be useful.

Transferrin saturation refers to how much iron is being carried around on the transferrin (a transport protein for iron) and is a ratio of serum iron and total ironbinding capacity (TIBC), not a direct measurement. Do you have your TIBC measurement?

Your GP (or whoever did the tests) should have told you if you needed iron supplementation and should have explained to you what the results meant. Did they not do this?

turtlepie Mon 21-Jan-13 15:05:12

Still waiting for tibc results and so no full answer from gp yet except that results so far all within the normal range.

Thyroid normal (around 2)

I have called it iron, it probably has a "lab" name as well!

Does the transferrin saturation result in my op mean anything? I mean, is there any significance if it is low end of normal range and other figures within range?

Thumbwitch Mon 21-Jan-13 15:12:25

It's not a measurement I'm familiar with, I'm sorry. I think it must be a biochemistry test! We used to measure haemoglobin, size of blood cells, number of blood cells, ferritin and B12, to give indications of whether an anaemia was iron deficient or B12 deficient (or something else).
At a guess though (and that's all it is), I would say that a low end transferrin saturation is related to your low-end ferritin result - if you haven't got that much stored iron, then there won't be that much available to cart around on transport proteins.

What I don't quite understand is how you have the transferrin saturation figure if you don't have the TIBC - as I understood it, you would need that result to get the ratio that is the transferrin saturation. How odd!

mercibucket Mon 21-Jan-13 17:50:51

Lots of people apparently feel crap until their ferritin is up towards 100. Buy some spatone and see how you go

Did you also get b12 tested?

turtlepie Mon 21-Jan-13 18:53:11

waiting for B12
Vit D about 75 in uk figures

I wonder if it is safe to take spatone if iron is already 18 though? I dont really understand how it works, how does the body choose whether to use an iron supplement to boost the iron or the ferritin levels?

mercibucket Mon 21-Jan-13 19:17:28

I have no clue what the transferritin figures mean, but in general, yes it is absolutely fine if ferritin is low to boost iron levels with something like spatone. Your ferritin (the iron stores) is low but not at a level you will get treatment for in the uk. Which is a good thing as iron tablets are disgusting! Spatone is just iron enriched water, so you can take it as a normal daily supplement regardless of iron levels really. It's also safe for toddlers upwards so it isn't anything dangerous. Alternatively, you could try floradix. Both are supposed to be v gentle.
When the b12 levels come in, our range in the uk for normal is apparently on the low side so you want your b12 to be well within normal limits not dragging along the bottom

RockinD Mon 21-Jan-13 20:21:19

iron 18.7 (range 10.5-28)
ferritin 38 (range 30-400)
transferrin saturation 21% (range 20%-55%)

Your serum iron is just under mid-range, your ferritin is much lower than it should be (needs to be at least 70 and preferably 90 to avoid symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness and hair loss) and your t/s is right at the bottom of the range.

Do not confuse serum iron with haemoglobin - that's a different test.

You would not just benefit from a supplement - you need a supplement! You may also need a GP that understands this stuff!

lazydog Mon 21-Jan-13 21:36:45

RockinD - Surely that "iron" figure the OP quotes is not the right range to indicate that they mean serum iron? Looks like a result more consistent with it actually being her HgB measurement...? (If it was serum iron then the normal range wouldn't start at 10.5!)

turtlepie Mon 21-Jan-13 21:37:11

oh! is serum iron not the one that is fine if it's 11 or more? Was I thinking of haemoglobin for which 18 would be great???

lazydog Mon 21-Jan-13 21:49:33

Hold, on, sorry. blush I was looking at serum iron ranges for the USA and different places use different units.

Yes, sorry, that could be iron if, where ever you are, they're measuring μmol/L.

(I should have known that because here in Canada serum iron should be 11 – 32 μmol/L, which kind of matches up with the range you stated.)

lazydog Mon 21-Jan-13 21:53:32

Grrrr... Units should say micromoles/L

Thumbwitch Mon 21-Jan-13 22:48:45

Let me just reassure you that your first measurement is definitely NOT haemoglobin - normal UK range for Hb is 12.5-17.5 for women (iirc), 18.5 for men. 28 would be unfeasible for a Hb measurement!

Reenypip Tue 22-Jan-13 22:25:12

If I had these results my GP / hospital doctor would be pleased and happy with them as they are in normal range.
Doctor only concerned if iron (or hb) starts to go 10 below and will suggest increasing iron in diet and then tablets. Similar with ferritin (iron stores level )

mercibucket Wed 23-Jan-13 08:33:41

Sadly true, reenypip, despite many people finding their symptoms of tirednesss etc disappear once ferritin is higher

mercibucket Wed 23-Jan-13 08:33:42

Sadly true, reenypip, despite many people finding their symptoms of tirednesss etc disappear once ferritin is higher

lazydog Wed 23-Jan-13 18:34:33

Yes, sorry for confusing things.

I wish different labs and countries would standardise on their units. For example, I've just been told that my haemoglobin is 123 but that's a factor of 10 out for how my results were quoted in the UK. That one's obviously easy enough to translate, but my serum iron (7 as I've been forgetting to take my tablets for months blush and should be between 11 and 32 micro-moles/L) is a bad enough result looking at the correct (Canadian) range, but I was initially pretty freaked out when I was initially comparing to the USA's normal ranges (i.e. 60-170 mcg/dl).

And yes, even though I'm barely anaemic now (based on my haemoglobin result) my low ferritin (17) is apparently enough on its own to make me feel like absolute shit until I get it above 50, according to my GP.

You do need to supplement, for sure.

TataClaire Fri 25-Jan-13 00:30:43

My doc just precribed me 200mg iron tabs as my ferritin was 9 amd she said you start to feel rubbish anywhere under 50. Though will take a long time to fix.

lazydog Fri 25-Jan-13 07:30:35

TataClaire - How often are you meant to take them? Mine, that I've been taking (nowhere near regularly enough) for years, are 300mg ferrous fumarate, which is 100mg of elemental iron.

Whenever I let my levels creep back down, after taking these 2x a day for a few weeks I'm like a different person again. smile

I have my bloods taken every 6 weeks or when I remember and you're right, it'll take a long time to get ferritin >50, (that's my aim too, and I've never yet achieved it, lol) but you will still feel a noticeable benefit of the additional iron much sooner than that.

turtlepie Fri 25-Jan-13 15:12:51

I have now got results of

serum iron 15.4 (10.5-28)
tibc 74 (41-77)
transferrin saturation 21% (20-55%)
ferritin 38 (30-400)

Does this lot together look like iron insufficiency?

lazydog Fri 25-Jan-13 19:20:03

Yes, sure does to me. Your TIBC is at the very high end of normal. That's a measure of how much transferrin in your blood isn't carrying iron, so if you have iron-deficiency anemia you have a high result for that test. Also your ferritin (iron stores) is considerably lower than I've been told is the low point I should be aiming for (should try to get it >50, according to my dr).

lazydog Fri 25-Jan-13 19:30:16

Did you ever get a hemoglobin result?

turtlepie Fri 25-Jan-13 19:57:49

I wasn't told one - is it important or do these results tell me enough? How long might it take for these figures (except ferritin) to get nearer to mid range if I get iron tablets or a couple of spatone a day or something?

turtlepie Fri 25-Jan-13 20:15:00

Because like you said the gp has said they are in normal range

Thumbwitch Fri 25-Jan-13 22:22:22

Well they might be in normal range but they're at the ends of normal range so if I were the GP, I would have wanted to see a full blood count result - as I said, haemoglobin content and red blood cell size are also indicative of anaemia, so I'd like to know what they were. And then, if I were your GP, I'd be doing something about your situation before it worsens to actually make you fall out of normal range. Good primary care is about prevention (something that gets lost so often) - your GP has the chance to sort this before it gets clinically worse, you're obviously already feeling the effects of it!
Normal ranges are bloody irritating anyway. Because it might be that you would normally, healthily be at the opposite ends of the "normal range", so actually your results are way out of whack for you. But for someone else, they might be their "normal". If that was the case though, then they wouldn't be feeling the symptoms that you are.

So - symptomatic + results at ends of normal range --> DO something, GP! IMO.

But you can do it yourself, as has been suggested, with Floradix or Spatone - or you can get a multimineral and vitamin supplement because although we know your iron levels aren't perfect, we don't know why and unless you know the answer (heavy periods, for e.g.) then just taking iron on its own could be counterproductive, as a balance is needed between mineral intake. Other minerals/vitamins are required for blood cell/Hb production as well as iron, could be one of those that's low as well.

I'd still want to know why though...

And if you do take iron tablets, try to get something like ferrous citrate, not ferric sulphate (really inefficient absorption + can give black poo, constipation and gut pain but is the cheapest option)

turtlepie Sat 26-Jan-13 08:56:34

I think it is diet - I am not vegetarian but never cook red meat. No idea what else iron comes in but I dont eat many vegetables either and lentils maybe once in 2 months? Plus I dont eat fortified cereals. I think I need to have a look into dietary sources of iron as well as supplements.

turtlepie Sat 26-Jan-13 09:00:48

and only eat chicken maybe once a week if that

Thumbwitch Sat 26-Jan-13 09:38:17

Crikey - what do you eat? [no imagination here]
Non-meat sources of iron are mostly green leafy veg, especially dark green ones. But they are not as effective as meat, because the iron is in a different form - the iron in meat is from the blood content, and as such is more easily absorbed. You can still get a decent iron intake from green leafy veg but need to ensure that you are also getting a decent vitamin C intake, as it helps with iron absorption. If your vit C intake is very low this can inhibit iron absorption so make sure you're getting enough of that as well.
Do you eat fish and eggs?

here is a list of foods that contain iron

turtlepie Sat 26-Jan-13 10:03:11

fish yuk, eggs yum! It's a bad diet for iron isnt it.

I can introduce more red meat but its hard to find anything that the whole family is going to eat. And I cant stand the idea of the sausages full of rubbish.
I think I'm going to have to reinvent my menu planner.

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